LSU has its biggest win of the Brian Kelly era.
The Tiger defense stopped the Ole Miss offense during the second half in a 45-20 win over the No. 7 Rebels. It’s the first loss of the season for Ole Miss and, as LSU fans would like to point out, it wasn’t an upset either. LSU entered the game as a 2-point favorite.
Ole Miss jumped out to an early 17-3 lead and it briefly looked like it would be a cakewalk. That cakewalk instead was an LSU rout. Ole Miss failed to score a TD the rest of the way as LSU tied the game at 17-17 on the way to a 42-3 run to close the game.
LSU QB Jayden Daniels had five total TDs against Ole Miss a week after he had six touchdowns against Florida. Daniels threw for two scores and ran for three as Ole Miss’ defense was helpless to stop him on the ground in the second half. After putting LSU ahead for good with a pass to Mason Taylor for Taylor’s first collegiate TD, Daniels rushed for two scores in the fourth quarter.
The explosive Ole Miss offense couldn’t start any sort of comeback. Ole Miss entered the game heavily reliant on a rushing attack that featured Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans. With Evans out on Saturday, the rushing load fell to Judkins and LSU keyed in on him. Judkins did finish with over 100 yards and two scores but Ole Miss averaged less than four yards a carry as a team.
Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart threw more than 30 passes in a game for just the second time all season and wasn’t very efficient. Dart was 19-of-34 passing for 284 yards and an interception. After tallying nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half, the Rebels only broke the 100-yard mark in the second half in a garbage time drive.
Is LSU a contender in the SEC West?
It was hard to envision LSU as a team to be reckoned with in the SEC West in Kelly's first season after its self-inflicted 24-23 loss to Florida State in Week 1. And it’s also worth mentioning that this is the same Tigers team that was throttled 40-13 by Tennessee two weeks ago.
But at 6-2, LSU is set to be ranked in the AP Top 25 on Sunday and heads into its bye week with Alabama next up and dreams of a 10-win season.
While a 10-win season is a long shot — the Tide will be favored on Nov. 5 — a nine-win season is now a reasonable expectation with a finishing stretch of Arkansas, UAB and Texas A&M. And if LSU does beat Alabama, well, the SEC West would be the Tigers’ to lose over the final three weeks of the season as LSU would have tiebreakers over both the Crimson Tide and Ole Miss.
Daniels had his worst rushing game of the season in that Tennessee loss with 16 carries for 38 yards. Since then he’s scored six TDs on the ground among his 11 total touchdowns and now has 21 total TDs through eight games.
He’s also made strides as a passer. Daniels was just 8-of-20 in a 21-17 win over Auburn and has completed over 70% of his passes since then. If Daniels continues to be a threat to score on the ground and through the air and the LSU defense is as good as it was in the final three quarters on Saturday, then the rivalry game vs. Alabama in two weeks could be a lot spicier than many initially thought.