BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Jayden Daniels delivered the kind of decisive downfield throws and dazzling quarterback runs that Auburn coach Hugh Freeze feared he would.
And when it was over, Freeze sought out Daniels on the field to commend his latest prolific performance.
“He told me that I’m a hell of player and much respect,” Daniels said. “Coming from a coach like that with that stature, that means a lot.”
Daniels accounted for 418 yards and passed for three touchdowns, and No. 22 LSU raced to an early double-digit lead that it never relinquished in a 48-18 victory over Auburn on Saturday night.
“It’s just incredible offensive production — throwing it, catching it, running it and the offensive line; pretty impressive stuff,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “We need to continue to improve on the defensive side of the ball and continue the consistency from the offensive standpoint. But, I’ll put this team up against anybody in the league right now.”
LSU receiver Kyren Lacy had the most productive game of his career, catching four passes for 111 yards and touchdown.
“It’s very fun having weapons like that,” said Daniels, who also threw touchdown passes to receiver Malik Nabers and running back Josh Williams. “Kyren can win his one-on-one match-ups and that’s what he did tonight.”
John Emery Jr., Logan Diggs and Williams each rushed for short touchdowns as LSU (5-2, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) scored at least 48 points for a third straight week.
Daniels — whom Freeze declared should be a Heisman Trophy candidate — completed 20 of 27 passes for 325 yards and rushed for 93 yards.
“They beat us in every way that you could,” Freeze said. “We had no answers defensively for them and offensively just not consistent enough to stay in a scoring match with them.”
Meanwhile, LSU’s defense turned in one of its better performances this season, highlighted by drive-stalling sacks by Mekhi Wingo and Harold Perkins.
“I feel like we’re all in synch now; we’re all playing together as one,” Perkins said. “We’re just trying to come out and beat our opponents — beat them in the ground every time.”
Auburn (3-3, 0-3) finished with 293 total yards, the second fewest allowed this season by an LSU defense that was urgently looking to improve after giving up a whopping 1,233 yards and 104 points in its previous two games.
But Auburn hasn’t had much scoring punch in its three SEC games, during which it has averaged 16 points.
Payton Thorne completed 12 of 23 passes for 102 yards and change-of-pace QB Robby Ashford passed for 52 yards, highlighted by his 3-yard scoring pass to Brandon Frazier.
Nabers’ 29-yard touchdown on a swing pass to the left side gave LSU a 7-0 lead on the game’s opening drive.
When Emery dove across the goal line to make it 17-0 late in the opening quarter, LSU had 216 total yards to Auburn’s minus-3.
Auburn finally put a drive together after that, going 75 yards in eight plays for Jarquez Hunter’s 2-yard touchdown run.
Damian Ramos’ second field goal of the night gave LSU a 20-7 halftime lead.
Auburn: Freeze’s team remains a work in progress but looks competitive in stretches during the coach’s first year leading the proud program from Alabama’s plains. When kicker Alex McPherson hit a 38-yard field goal, Auburn’s deficit was a seemingly surmountable 10 points in the third quarter before the home-side Tigers pulled away again.
LSU: The offense remains on pace to rank among the most prolific in program history. LSU has now scored more than 40 points in five of its seven games this season, with a high of 70 against Grambling State.
LSU could move up a few spots after losses by a couple teams ranked fewer than 10 spots ahead in the AP Top 25 Poll.
Auburn: Hosts Ole Miss on Saturday
LSU: Hosts Army on Saturday.