By the time he was done with Mississippi State on Saturday, handing over the offense to Garrett Nussmeier for the final 10 minutes of mop-up duty, that purple No. 5 on the middle of Jayden Daniels’ chest started to resemble an “S.”

Super was the only way to describe Daniels’ play, as his hand, feet and decision-making guided the now No. 12-ranked LSU Tigers to a 41-14 demolition of the Bulldogs.

What was supposed to be a showdown between two of the top veteran quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference?— Daniels and State’s Will Rogers?— turned into a showcase for the Tigers’ signal-caller from San Bernadino, California. Daniels completed his first 13 passes and went 30 of 34 for the game for 361 yards with two touchdowns to Malik Nabers.

It was the kind of glittering show that reminded one of the game Rohan Davey and Josh Reed had in 2001 at Alabama (528 yards for Davey, 293 for Reed). Nabers’ 13 catches for 239 yards was one of the best games for any LSU receiver ever. Both of them deservedly picked up SEC co-offensive player of the week honors Monday.

But if Nabers was the dynamite to the Tigers offense, it was Daniels who lit the fuse. After an easy dismantling of Grambling, it was a statement-making performance that did its best to push LSU’s 45-24 loss to Florida State into the shadows.

The only way to do that is to keep winning, starting with Saturday’s game in Tiger Stadium against Arkansas (6 p.m., ESPN). It will be another marquee matchup of seasoned SEC West quarterbacks?— Daniels vs. KJ Jefferson?— but Vegas likes what it has seen from the LSU side. The Tigers opened as a 17-point favorite Sunday over the Razorbacks and by Monday afternoon that line had moved to 17.5, per Caesars.

Daniels is a big reason why. Even LSU’s loss to FSU wasn’t something you could pin largely on Daniels. He threw for 346 yards and ran for 64 more, albeit with his only interception so far of the season.

On balance this season, Daniels has been stellar, emerging from a pack of crowded contenders to arguably be the top quarterback in a highly competitive, if slightly down, SEC. For the season, Daniels is 70 of 95 for 976 yards with eight touchdowns, his yardage seventh nationally and second in the SEC only to Vanderbilt’s AJ Swann. He’s third in the nation in total offense with 377.7 yards per game, third in the FBS behind only Washington’s Michael Penix and Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders. In passing efficiency, Daniels ranks a respectable 10th in the FBS at 185.7.

Little wonder then that Daniels is creeping back into Heisman Trophy contention ( ranked him eighth after Saturday’s action). Little wonder, also, that Daniels has earned the glowing admiration of his coach, who recently spoke on his radio show of arriving at the LSU football complex at 7 a.m. only to run into Daniels just leaving.

The quarterback had been there since 5:30 a.m. watching film.

“The play of the two of them was certainly elite,” Brian Kelly said at his Monday news conference to kick off Arkansas week, making reference to Daniels and Nabers.

Then the coach drilled down on Daniels’ performance, saying: “If you really look at it closely, some of the things that maybe don't get the attention was his presence in the pocket and how many times he got hit after delivering a great throw. Sometimes we cut it off and see the ball in the air, but you don't see the play all the way through, and he made some great throws under duress.

“Those are NFL throws, some of the ones that he made. Not backing down, staying in the pocket knowing that he was going to get hit and still delivering the ball with great accuracy.”

Perhaps there were times Saturday that Daniels really did start to believe he was Superman, taking on and even leaping through State defenders. On his final big run of the day, Daniels finally got the hint and slid to avoid taking a hit.

Is Daniels going to make anyone forget Joe Burrow, who unfortunately is off to a forgettable 0-2, injury-plagued start with the Cincinnati Bengals? No, but he may make a Burrow-like streak across the sky of the LSU program. After throwing for 2,913 yards last season, Daniels is well on pace for another season that pushes 3,000 yards. If he does that, he may well wind up among the top-five passers in program history, and the only one besides Burrow with two seasons of 2,800 yards or more passing.

“He’s been outstanding,” Kelly said. “His ability to win the game with his feet — or in this instance, throwing the football and running the ball — he was as good as anybody in the country.

“It’s fun to watch the development of a quarterback in that respect.”

The fun times for LSU, because of its quarterback, may be just beginning.

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