LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels played the game of his life against Florida at The Swamp. The senior signal-caller threw for 349 yards, rushed for 44 yards and accounted for six touchdowns (three passes, three rushes) in the 45-35 win over the homebound Gators. Daniels had struggled in the passing game for most of the year, but the 349-yard performance was his best of the season and the second game in a row with 300 or more yards through the air.
However, it was not without stress. After a touchdown with 5:32 left in the game, Daniels appeared to throw an interception to Jason Marshall Jr.; however, Florida defensive lineman Gervon Dexter was called up for roughing the passer after bagging Daniels just as he threw and landed on him with the full force of his body. LSU held onto possession, Josh Williams converted a fourth and 1 on the 27-yard line in Florida and kicker Damian Ramos drilled a 47-yard field goal with 1:45 left to freeze the game.
That field goal stopped a furious attack from Florida in the fourth quarter. The Gators trailed three touchdowns en route to the fourth quarter before quarterback Anthony Richardson took off for an 81-yard touchdown in the first game of the quarter. That was followed by an 11-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a touchdown on the next drive.
The Tigers scored touchdowns on their first six possessions — all of which were on 73 yards or more. They converted eight of the twelve third downs and converted all five red zone possessions into scores in an incredibly efficient offensive performance.
Jayden Daniels is a difference maker
Daniels came to LSU as Coach Brian Kelly’s signal-caller to stabilize the program, and Daniels showed why in the win. He is only the second quarterback in LSU history to account for six or more touchdowns in the game. The other guy? Joe Burrow. Not bad company to keep. Daniels was 8 of 9 for 173 yards and six conversions on the third downs alone, which is exactly why the Tigers were able to wear out a Gators defense that was gassed in the middle of the third quarter.
Daniels had quietly put in a solid season with 835 passes over four games in September, but failed to show the groundbreaking ability needed to make the Tigers contenders in the SEC West. But back-to-back 300-yard passing performance coupled with his ability to make plays on the ground will keep this LSU offense cooking as they head into the second half of the season.
Florida’s defense leaves a lot to be desired
This was a downright embarrassing feat from a Gators defense who used to be a point of pride for the program. It gave up 528 yards, yielded 7.5 yards per game and forced just one punt in the loss. That’s an alarming statistic in a season of questionable defensive performance. It entered the game ranked 12th in the SEC in total defense with 412.8 yards per game and defensive yards per game (5.71).
This defense is not good enough to bear the burden; It takes heroic performances from quarterback Anthony Richardson to give the Gators any chance of winning. Richardson was solid on Saturday, but struggled to stretch the field deep except for a 51-yard touchdown toss to Justin Shorter on first possession.
LSU still in conflict with SEC West
Don’t look now, but the Tigers are deciding their own fate in the SEC West. That’s right, the team that lost on a blocked extra point in the opener vs. Florida State and came home the week before from a blowout loss to Tennessee has plenty to play to get ahead.
The Volunteers topped SEC West behemoth Alabama on Saturday afternoon, leaving Ole Miss the only undefeated team in what is widely known as the best division in the country. The Tigers will host the rebels in the SEC next week on CBS Game of the Week, which could be — could — serve as a de facto SEC West title game. Sure, that would take some chaos, especially losing some more in Alabama. But the LSU-Ole Miss Magnolia Bowl is suddenly one of the biggest SEC games of the year.
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