Daniels Adds to Heisman Campaign; Football Beats Florida, 52-35
BATON ROUGE – Quarterback Jayden Daniels added to his Heisman campaign on Saturday night, accounting for 606 yards of total offense to lead the No. 19 LSU Tigers past the Florida Gators, 52-35 in Tiger Stadium.
With the win, LSU improves to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in conference play. Florida falls to 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the SEC. The Tigers return to action next Saturday against Georgia State in Death Valley for a 7 p.m. kickoff on ESPN2.
The best player in college football put on a show in front of 102,321 fans, finishing 17-of-26 passing for 372 yards and three touchdowns, along with 234 yards rushing on 12 carries with two scores on the ground. Daniels showcased once again on the national stage to be an electric force bound for New York.
“If he didn’t win (the Heisman) tonight, then he’s got to be the leading candidate,” said head coach Brian Kelly postgame. “He did something tonight that nobody has ever done. If that doesn’t make you the leading candidate, then maybe the Heisman isn’t for the best player.”
In the first quarter, Daniels took a quarterback keeper 85 yards to the house, putting the Tigers up 17-7 with 8:21 to play in the first half. It was the longest touchdown run by an LSU player since November 23, 2019 vs. Arkansas when Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for an 86-yard score. It was also the longest touchdown run by an LSU QB in program history.
Daniels then took a 51-yard keeper the distance to give LSU a 31-28 lead with 6:09 to play in the third quarter, increasing his total to 220 rush yards for the contest, making him the second player in SEC history with 200+ passing and rushing yards in the same game.
Daniels also moved past 12,000 career passing yards, while also surpassing 3,000 career rushing yards, making him the first NCAA FBS player to eclipse both marks in his career.
“He’s the best quarterback in the country,” Kelly said. “He’s the best playmaker in the country. I’ve watched them all. We’re 7-3. That doesn’t mean anything. It matters who the best player is and he’s the best player.”
Coach Kelly opened his postgame press conference by commending senior running backs Josh Williams and Noah Cain for their leadership and stepping up when needed. When you’re building a program, Kelly says, players who did the little things the right way are critical.
“All they’ve done is been great teammates,” Kelly said. “That gives me so much energy in this profession. “To have two guys like that in the locker room just gives you so much energy. Those are the kind of kids that you want to model.”
Williams earned his first start of the season and the seventh of his LSU career, scoring his 10th rushing touchdown as a Tiger on the opening possession.
Junior Brian Thomas led the team in receiving with 150 yards on six catches for two touchdowns. Junior Malik Nabers was second with six catches for 132 yards.
Defensively, senior linebacker Omar Speights led the team in tackles with 12, while freshman cornerback Javien Toviano posted 10 and sophomore linebacker Harold Perkins finished with eight with a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble.
Saturday marked the most points LSU has scored against Florida in the 70-game series. The Tigers have now won five straight and six of the last seven meetings with Gators.
“Great game,” Kelly said. “I thought Florida played great football tonight. They did some things defensively that caused some difficulty for us. I thought their quarterback was really good, our quarterback was just better.”