CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score, and No. 1 Florida State stormed into the BCS national championship game with a 45-7 victory over 20th-ranked Duke on Saturday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
The victory likely will set up a national championship matchup between Florida State and Auburn, pending the final BCS poll released Sunday.
Winston, the Heisman Trophy favorite, was 19 of 32 for 330 yards and set FBS freshman records for TD passes and yards passing in a season two days after prosecutors decided not to press charges against him in a sexual assault case.
Winston threw two TD passes to 6-foot-5-inch, 234-pound receiver Kelvin Benjamin and ran for a 17-yard score to overcome two interceptions.
‘‘I love my team,’’ Winston told Seminoles fans. ‘‘It means we’re going to the next level.’’
As Queen’s ‘‘We Are the Champions’’ played as a backdrop on the celebration, coach Jimbo Fisher said: ‘‘We’re not champs yet.’’
Florida State’s defense was dominant, holding Duke (10-3) to 239 total yards and forcing three turnovers to help the Seminoles (13-0) win their second straight ACC title.
‘‘Offensively we were out of synch early,’’ Fisher said. ‘‘Our defense was the key tonight and they were absolutely outstanding.’’
It was Florida State’s 12th win by at least 27 points. The Seminoles entered as 29-point favorites after outscoring their opponents by an average of 43 points.
Florida State outgained Duke, 569-239.
Winston struggled early with overthrowing receivers and the Seminoles failed to score in the first quarter for the first time this season.
Florida State’s first scoring opportunity ended when Devonta Freeman coughed up the ball at the Duke 3 following a 22-yard run.
But it wouldn’t matter.
Florida State slowly took charge in the second quarter and built a 17-0 halftime lead behind a stifling defense that forced Duke to go three-and-out on seven of its eight first-half possessions.
Winston got the Seminoles on the board early in the second quarter when he found Benjamin for a 14-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone. Karlos Williams bowled over two defenders on a 12-yard inside run to make it 14-0 after Lamarcus Joyner intercepted Duke quarterback Anthony Boone’s pass.
The onslaught continued in the second half with Winston hooking up on a 54-yard touchdown reception with Benjamin, who showed he’s not only big but can move too after blowing by defenders. He finished with 119 yards receiving.