BATON ROUGE, La. — Jayden Daniels ran for three touchdowns and passed for two scores, and LSU roared back from an early two-touchdown deficit to hand No. 7 Ole Miss its first loss this season, 45-20 on Saturday.
The performance gave the dynamic Daniels the LSU record for touchdowns rushing in a season by a quarterback with nine. Daniels also has accounted for 11 TDs rushing or passing combined in the span of two games. He had three of each in a 45-35 victory at Florida last weekend.
Reveling in the resounding triumph over a historical and highly ranked rival, LSU fans stormed the field as the game ended. Now LSU (6-2, 4-1 SEC), in coach Brian Kelly’s first season, is back in the race to win the SEC West — if the Tigers can beat No. 6 Alabama.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, LSU became the first team since at least 2005 to defeat an AP Top-10 team by 25 or more points after trailing at halftime.
“Our guys wanted this opportunity,” Kelly said. “They saw this as a privilege to play in this stadium, and really wanted this opportunity. And obviously, the last three quarters, they played great football.”
After being outgained 200 to 80 in the first quarter and falling behind 17-3 on Jonathan Cruz’s field goal to start the second quarter, LSU outscored Ole Miss 42-3 the remainder of the game.
The Tigers finished with 500 total yards to 404 for coach Lane Kiffin’s vaunted Mississippi offense.
Daniels passed for 258 yards and ran for 121 without a turnover. His scoring passes went for 34 yards to Jaray Jenkins and 1 yard to tight end Mason Taylor. He ran for touchdowns of 3, 11 and 17 yards, the longest all but salting the game away in the fourth quarter.
Josh Williams ran 1 yard for the Tigers’ final TD late in the fourth quarter.
“At the end of the day, when you have a top team coming in, that’s why you come to LSU,” Kelly said. “And our best players played their best. And we needed that.”
Nearly everything went right for LSU in the second half. Even linebacker Harold Perkins Jr.’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a third-down stop at the Rebels’ 15-yard line early in the fourth quarter couldn’t turn the tide in the Rebels’ favor. Down 11 points at the time, Ole Miss (7-1, 3-1) wound up having to punt anyway minutes later.
“Missed tackles,” Kiffin said, summing up the collapse. “We got pushed around. Had some injuries up there during the game, obviously doesn’t help. We didn’t do a lot right defensively.”
Daniels then drove the Tigers 75 yards for a touchdown to make it 38-20.
After first-quarter touchdown runs of 3 and 6 yards by Judkins, Ole Miss was threatening to go ahead 21-3 when LSU’s defense finally got a stop on third-and-5 from the LSU 13, limiting the Rebels to a field goal.
The Tigers then scored two touchdowns to tie it. Daniels hit Jenkins with 34-yard scoring pass and Daniels capped the Tigers’ next possession by keeping the ball on a read-option run from the 3.
Cruz’s 48-yard field goal gave Mississippi a 20-17 lead that stood until halftime.
But LSU’s defense battered Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart in the second half. The Rebels QB finished 19 of 34 for 284 yards. He was intercepted in the LSU end zone by Joe Foucha in the third quarter on a pass thrown under pressure from linebacker Micah Baskerville.
Three weeks after a disheartening loss to Tennessee at home, Kelly has the Tigers playing their best football. LSU also again showed its resolve in winning for the third time this year after trailing by 13 or more in conference play.
The Tigers will take on the Crimson Tide on Nov. 5.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.