Daniels, Cain powers No. 6 LSU to 41-10 win over UAB

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – The roars of exuberant LSU players pierced the walls of their locker room and echoed in adjacent rooms and hallways beneath the north endzone bleachers at Tiger Stadium.

The hilarious celebration was more about the energy and determination the Tigers displayed in sixth place in a cold, wet, half-empty stadium against a strong underdog than the mere fact that they won a game that they should win.

Noah Cain scored in three short runs, Jayden Daniels had touchdowns in the rush and passing game, and LSU methodically pulled away from UAB on Saturday night for a 41-10 win.

“I’m so proud of our mental toughness and (the players’) ability to get it right against a team they’re supposed to beat,” said coach LSU Brian Kelly, who orchestrated a remarkable year-round turnaround in his first season at Baton Rouge.

Daniels completed 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and rushed for 111 yards on 12 carries. His primary target was receiver Malik Nabers, who caught seven passes for 129 yards, including a 47-yarder on LSU’s first touchdown drive. Brian Thomas also had a late TD catch for LSU (9-2).

Daniels was happy with how his unit played a week after largely stagnating in a tense 13-10 win in Arkansas the previous week.

“I saw the field. My feet and eyes were tied together,” Daniels said. “I feel like it was my most efficient game of the year. It was good for us to keep that rhythm and keep a good offensive flow.

The comfortable win meant LSU climbed higher in The AP’s Top 25 poll after No. 5 Tennessee’s 63-38 loss at South Carolina – depending on whether the Tigers are leapfrogged by No. 7 USC, who won at rivals UCLA 48-45.

LSU is already suspended in the December 3 Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 1 Georgia. But the Tigers can’t afford any more losses if they want to be considered a contender for the four-team college football playoffs.

Temperatures in the 40’s and a torrential downpour kept many fans away from Death Valley for LSU’s home finals – a non-conference matchup against a team listed by FanDuel SportsBook as a two-touchdown underdog.

But those who did show up saw a relatively competitive first half.

After LSU went for first possession of the game for John Emery Jr.’s short touchdown run, the Blazers (5-6) responded with the help of Jermaine Brown Jr.’s 66-yard kickoff return. That tied DeWayne McBride’s 5-yard TD run.

After LSU took a 14-7 lead on Cain’s 5-yard rush, UAB quarterback Dylan Hopkins completed passes from 20 and 27 yards to quickly put the Blazers in the Tigers’ 10 field goal for a 14-10 lead beginning of the second quarter.

That was all the Blazers would achieve.

“They’re a pretty good defense,” said UAB coach Bryant Vincent. “The strength of their defense was without a doubt their defensive line and centre-backs.”

LSU extended their lead to 21-10 on Cain’s second TD with 5:20 at halftime and Cain scored a third to make it 28-10 just before halftime.

“Coach Kelly has been talking about mental toughness all week and preaching about getting back on track and playing the kind of football we know we are capable of,” Cain said. “We just played very physically. Our offensive line played great and we dominated the players from the line of scrimmage. That will help us to start the next week with a lot of momentum.”

THE TAKE AWAY

UAB: The Blazers came in with one of the highest-ranked rushing plays in the country, averaging nearly 250 yards per game. They rallied just 48 yards and ran against LSU. McBride, who came in with a national-leading 156.3 rushing yards per game, finished the game with 34 yards on 13 carries.

LSU: Cain, a Penn State transfer, leads all LSU running backs with seven touchdowns. He trails Daniels, who posted his team-leading 11th TD rush this season. After Emery’s early TD, he fumbled in the Tigers’ next series in the UAB 10 and lost a second fumble in UAB territory early in the fourth quarter.

CRACKED OUT

LSU has had several prominent players, including running backs Armoni Goodwin and Josh Williams, as well as starting center Charles Turner and receiver Kayshon Boutte.

Kelly said Goodwin may not return this season but that Williams, who has a sore knee, will be rested for the Tigers’ SEC Finals next weekend. Kelly said Boutte had the flu this week and hinted Turner is close to returning. ___

NEXT

UAB: At Louisiana Tech on November 26th.

LSU: At Texas A&M on Nov. 26.

___

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