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Is LSU Getting Better, or is Ole Miss Overrated?

LSU’s second shot at a top-10 team on Saturday went much better than its first. Despite yet another slow start — as has been the Tigers’ MO this season — they took down No. 7 Ole Miss at Death Valley to earn an ultimately decisive 45-20 win.

Everything was going the previously unbeaten Rebels’ way early on. They scored points on their first three drives and led 17-3 early in the second quarter. But by halftime, Ole Miss led just 20-17, and it was blanked in the final 30 minutes as LSU could assert its will in the second half.

Quarterback Jayden Daniels continues to improve every week, and he had another fantastic outing in this one. He had 369 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns (two passing, three rushings). In the last two games, Daniels has scored 11 combined touchdowns.

Daniels led the team in rushing again, but Josh Williams had a solid day with 76 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. In his return from injury, Armoni Goodwin had eight carries for 55 yards. In total, LSU racked up 500 yards of offense.

On paper, it was a reasonably successful day offensively for the Rebels, who eclipsed the 400-yard mark. But against one of the most effective offenses in college football, LSU’s defense adjusted well to a bad start.

Quarterback Jaxson Dart threw for 284 yards, but he didn’t score a touchdown and threw a crucial interception in the end zone to safety Joe Foucha. Dart has made a lot of plays with his legs this season, but he had just six yards on 10 carries.

Freshman standout running back Quinshon Judkins had another impressive game, taking 25 carries for 111 yards and two scores, while receiver Malik Heath had a massive game through the air with eight catches for 145 yards. But it wasn’t enough against an LSU defense that held firm in the second half.

Linebacker Micah Baskerville led the team in tackles again with eight, while true freshman linebacker Harold Perkins notched another sack.

This quickly marked the biggest win of the Brian Kelly era so far, and — at least until the conclusion of Alabama’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday night — puts LSU atop the SEC West with a 4-1 record in conference play.

The Tigers control their fate in the division race, and they’ll enter the bye with a lot of momentum ahead of a matchup against the Crimson Tide on Nov. 5. Suddenly, that one looks like it could come with the division on the line.