LSU vs. Florida score, takeaways: Tigers win fourth straight over Gators behind six Jayden Daniels TDs
Daniels turned in his best performance of the season to lead his team to a win over their cross-division rivals
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels turned in the game of his life against Florida in The Swamp. The senior signal-caller threw for 349 yards, rushed for 44 yards and accounted for six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing) in the 45-35 win over the home-standing Gators. Daniels had struggled in the passing game for the majority of the year, but the 349-yard performance was his best of the season and second-straight game with 300 or more yards through the air.
It wasn't without stress, though. Up 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 for roughing the passer after wrapping Daniels up just as he threw and landing on him with the full force of his body. LSU retained possession, Josh Williams converted a fourth-and-1 on the Florida 27-yard line and kicker Damian Ramos drilled a 47-yard field goal with 1:45 left to ice the game.
That field goal staved off a furious fourth-quarter charge by Florida. The Gators were down three touchdowns headed to the fourth quarter before quarterback Anthony Richardson took off for an 81-yard touchdown on the first play of the quarter. That was followed up by an 11-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a touchdown on the very next drive.
The Tigers scored touchdowns on their first six possessions -- all of which were on drives of 73 or more yards. They converted eight of 12 third downs and converted all five red-zone possessions into scores in what was an incredibly efficient offensive performance.
Jayden Daniels is a difference-maker
Daniels came to LSU as coach Brian Kelly's hand-picked signal-caller to stabilize the program, and Daniels showed why in the win. He is just the second quarterback in LSU history to account for six or more touchdowns in game. The other guy? Joe Burrow. Not bad company to keep. Daniels was 8 of 9 for 173 yards and six conversions on third downs alone, which is exactly why the Tigers were able to wear down a Gators defense that was gassed midway through the third quarter.
Daniels had quietly put together a solid season with 835 passing yards through four games in September but didn't show the game-breaking ability that is needed to make the Tigers contenders in the SEC West. But back-to-back 300-yard passing performances coupled with his ability to make plays on the ground has 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 flat-out embarrassing performance by a Gators defense that used to a point of pride for the program. It gave up 528 yards, yielded 7.5 yards per play and forced only one punt in the loss. That is an alarming stat in a season full of questionable defensive performances. It came into the game ranked 12th in the SEC in total defense at 412.8 yards per game and defensive yards per play (5.71).
This defense isn't good enough to shoulder the load; it needs heroic performances from quarterback Anthony Richardson to give the Gators chances to win. Richardson was solid on Saturday but had a hard time stretching the field deep save for a 51-yard touchdown toss to Justin Shorter on the first possession of the game.
LSU still in SEC West contention
Don't look now, but the Tigers control their own destiny in the SEC West. That's right, the team that lost on a blocked extra point in the opener vs. Florida State and was coming off of a home blowout loss to Tennessee the week before has plenty to play for moving forward.
The Volunteers topped SEC West behemoth Alabama on Saturday afternoon, which left Ole Miss as the only undefeated team left in what is commonly known as the nation's best division. The Tigers will host the Rebels next week in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week that could -- could -- serve as a de facto SEC West title game. Sure, that would take some chaos, specifically some more Alabama losses. But the LSU-Ole Miss Magnolia Bowl is suddenly one of the biggest SEC games of the year.
Victory Formation.— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 16, 2022
Florida isn't out of it yet
7:39 Q4: LSU 42, Florida 35
The Gators aren't backing down despite falling into a three-touchdown hole at the start of the fourth quarter. An 11-play, 80-yard drive was capped off by a 1-yard plunge by Trevor Etienne to make it a one-score game midway through the final frame. Florida's defense forced its first stop of the game earlier in the quarter, and has been lit up by LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels for the majority of the night. It needs to step up right here in a big, big way.
LSU 42, UF 35— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 16, 2022
7:39 | 4Q
Brian Thomas Jr. is a bad, bad man.— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) October 16, 2022
OH MY 11— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 16, 2022
Anthony Richardson does it with his legs
14:51 Q4: LSU 42, Florida 28
The Florida quarterback got the fourth quarter started out with a bang as Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson took it 81 yards to the house on one of the best runs by a quarterback this season. The Gators offense has struggled to get going for the last couple of quarters and is running out of time, but that's the kind of play that can spark a comeback as long as the defense does its part.
Let’s gooooooo🐅🐅🐅🐅— Blake Ferguson (@blakeferguson44) October 16, 2022
BROOOO— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 16, 2022
LSU's defense stands strong
6:58 Q3: LSU 35, Florida 21
Florida went for it on fourth-and-4 from the 12-yard line, but Anthony Richardson threw a fastball that Justin Shorter couldn't handle to hand the ball back to the Tigers. It was the right idea, but wrong play call/execution. This doesn't seem like a game that Florida can win with field goals since its defense is having a terrible time slowing down Jayden Daniels and the Tigers offense. Richardson just needed to take some heat off of that slant.
4TH DOWN STOP‼️— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 16, 2022
LSU's offense stays hot
13:17 Q3: LSU 35, Florida 21
LSU didn't cool off at all during the halftime intermission. In fact, its offense is smoking hot. Quarterback Jayden Daniels led his team on a four-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Daniels taking it in from 9 yards out. He has all five of LSU's touchdowns on the day (three passing, two running), and the Tigers have racked up 21 straight points in The Swamp.
Jayden. Daniels.— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) October 16, 2022