Music City Bowl: Louisville vs. Mississippi State – Preview & Prediction

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The Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-6) will face off against the Louisville Cardinals (7-5) in today’s Music City Bowl in Nashville.

Below you’ll find the for game time, television information, plus an in-depth preview and prediction.

Louisville vs. Mississippi State Preview, Prediction

December 30 | 3:00 p.m. CST | Nissan Stadium | Nashville, TN | ESPN

The last time these two teams met, the Bulldogs narrowly defeated the Cardinals, 31-27, in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl, extending their series lead to 3-2.

Although Mississippi State came away with the win two years ago, both teams have undergone a complete makeover since.

  • The Coaches

Mississippi State, who was led by Dan Mullen then, is now coached by Joe Moorhead, while Louisville, who was coached by the infamous Bobby Petrino then, is now under the reigns of first-year coach Scott Satterfield.

Satterfield’s first year has been more than any Cardinals fan could have imagined. He has led his team to a 7-5 record after a terrible 2-10 record in 2018, their first year without Lamar Jackson.

Moorhead, on the other hand, has yet to prove himself to Mississippi State fans. After a 3-1 start to the 2019 season, the Bulldogs dropped five of their next six before winning their last two to remain bowl-eligible for the tenth straight season, including a dramatic win in the Egg Bowl.

In his first season at the helm in 2018, Moorhead’s team only managed to go 8-5, despite having the second-best defense in the entire nation.

Moorhead will be looking for his first-ever bowl win as a head coach after falling 27-22 to unranked Iowa in last year’s Outback Bowl.

Satterfield, who previously led Appalachian State to four straight bowl games, is seeking the program’s first bowl win since they last appeared in the Music City Bowl in 2015.

  • The Quarterback Position

The best way to describe Mississippi State’s quarterback situation this season would be ‘mayhem’.

After picking up former Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens through the transfer portal, Moorhead named Stevens the team’s starter going into the season.

Stevens didn’t look bad.

In the season opener, Stevens went 20-of-30 for 236 yards and two touchdowns against Louisiana.

The next week, he was 9-of-10 for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against Southern Miss, but then, the injury bug crept in.

Stevens left the game with an injured shoulder, which gave the true freshman Garrett Shrader a chance.

Shrader came in and went an average 7-of-11 for 71 yards and no touchdowns.

Moorhead allowed the two quarterbacks to split time the next three games against Kansas State, Tennessee, and Auburn with Shrader proving himself this time around.

Shrader stepped up, accumulating 439 total yards with three touchdowns and one interception in those three games.

The stats were enough to win Shrader the starting job until he was held out of the week nine game versus Arkansas due to “general health issues.”

Stevens played well in the 54-24 win over the Razorbacks and earned back the starting role for contests against Alabama and Abilene Christian.

It seemed as if Stevens would once again get the start in the season finale against Ole Miss, but another injury would give Shrader the nod once again.

Shrader led the team to a 21-20 Egg Bowl victory, securing his starting role going into the postseason.

Well, until last Friday when Shrader and teammate Willie Gay, Jr. got into a post-practice altercation.

The fight resulted in Shrader suffering a broken orbital bone, which will give Stevens one more chance as a starting college quarterback. This will be the senior’s 9th start of the season.

Regarding Lousiville’s quarterback situation, it isn’t as much of a storyline in comparison to Mississippi State’s.

After splitting reps for a brief period of time with freshman Evan Conley early on in the season, redshirt sophomore Micale Cunningham took control of the offense, and the Cardinals never looked back.

For the season, Cunningham has accounted for 1,786 yards through the air and 401 yards on the ground. The Montgomery, AL native has also completed 61.5 percent of his passes and contributed 25 total touchdowns.

  • Head-to-Head Statistics

Both teams are able to put points on the board with Louisville averaging 32.7 ppg and Mississippi State averaging 27.8 ppg.

Neither the Cardinals nor the Bulldogs have great defenses. Louisville has given up 33.8 ppg and 446.1 ypg, while Mississippi State is allowing 28.1 ppg and 389.9 ypg.

At the wide receiver position, Louisville has much better options on the outside with Tutu Atwell (61 receptions, 1,129 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Dez Fitzpatrick (33 receptions, 598 yards, six touchdowns).

Mississippi State’s best wide receiver is Deddrick Thomas, who has 29 receptions, 390 yards, and two touchdowns on the season.

Both teams have stud running backs with SEC-leading rusher Kylin Hill (1,347 yards and 10 touchdowns) suiting up for one last game with the Bulldogs and Louisville’s Javian Hawkins (1,420 yards and eight touchdowns) continuing his big freshman season, so expect a big day on the ground.

  • Prediction

Mississippi State has gone 6-3 in their last nine bowl games, making it hard to go against the Bulldogs in December.

Yet, I’m going to.

Mississippi State may have arguably the best running back in the SEC, but with Shrader out, the team is as one-dimensional as ever.

  • Final Score: Louisville 27, Mississippi State 24

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