Louisville vs. Mississippi State: TaxSlayer Bowl Prediction, Game Preview

Louisville vs. Mississippi State: TaxSlayer Bowl Prediction, Game Preview

ACC

Louisville vs. Mississippi State: TaxSlayer Bowl Prediction, Game Preview


Three reasons why you should watch the TaxSlayer Bowl, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.


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TaxSlayer Bowl
Louisville (8-4) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)

Broadcast

Date: Saturday, December 30th
Game Time: 12:00 pm
Venue: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Network: ESPN

Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak

The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness
(1 best-39 worst): 
20 out of 39

2017-2018 Bowl Central: Schedules, Picks, Love
CFN Expert Consensus Confidence Picks

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The TaxSlayer Bowl

It’s Lamar Jackson in his final collegiate game. At least it should be. One of the most electrifying quarterbacks to ever play the game is more than ready leave early and give it a shot at the next level. But first, he has to make amends for last year’s bowl clunker against LSU, needing to come up with a big performance as the marquee man on a light day of bowl games.

Okay Greg Knox, what have you got? The Joe Moorhead era at Mississippi State gets started soon, but first the program has to get through this and try to salvage something out of the season. After losing to Ole Miss, closing out with a bowl loss just won’t sit right. Knox, the running backs coach, will get a shot to show what he can do.

Show up, SEC. To close out the regular season, Clemson beat South Carolina, Florida State beat Florida, and Louisville beat Kentucky. Georgia took out Georgia Tech, but that was one of the few positives in the late season ACC vs. SEC matchups. After Georgia Tech took out Kentucky in last year’s TaxSlayer, the SEC needs the notch.

Here’s Why Louisville Will Win The TaxSlayer Bowl

You mean, besides Lamar Jackson? There is a running game besides the star under center. Senior Reggie Bonnafon was limited to just three games with double-digit carries, but he’s good for over five yards per carry with seven touchdowns – three in the final two games – and big Malik Williams can catch as well as count away when needed.

Mississippi State doesn’t have its guy. Granted, the Bulldogs have had a month to figure out how to get the offense going without QB Nick Fitzgerald, but he was the main man who ran everything. MSU has talented playmakers to help try to pick up the slack, but Fitzgerald isn’t playing after breaking his leg against Ole Miss, there’s a new coach with Dan Mullen gone, and this would be a problem even if everything was normal.

Okay, Lamar Jackson. One of the greatest players in college football history now gets to show what he can do after getting a few weeks off. He ran for 1,443 yards and 17 scores, he threw for 3,489 yards and 25 touchdowns with six picks, and he proved time and again that he’s able to carry the team when needed. He’s Lamar Jackson. Mississippi State doesn’t have one of those.

Here’s Why Mississippi State Will Win The TaxSlayer Bowl

The Mississippi State run defense has had a month to prepare for No. 8. The Bulldogs couldn’t stop Georgia or Auburn early on, and they got run over by Alabama. Those are the only three times all year they’ve allowed 200 yards or more on the ground, and no one else ran for more than 152. The secondary can tackle – that’s a must against Jackson once he gets rolling.

– Keytaon Thompson has had time to get ready. He was thrown to the wolves in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss, and he wasn’t ready for primetime  completing 13-of-27 passes for 195 yards and a score with a pick. However, the 6-4, 222-pounder can run – taking off for 121 yards and a score – and he gets to roll against a Cardinal run defense that’s okay, not amazing.

The MSU defense was No. 1 in the SEC in stopping third down plays. Not Alabama, not LSU, not Georgia, not Auburn. Mississippi State allowed offenses to convert just 31% of their third down tries and led the nation in the fewest first downs allowed. This defense just might be good enough to pick up the slack without Fitzgerald.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The TaxSlayer Bowl

The pressure is 100% on Louisville. Mississippi State’s new world starts in spring ball when Moorhead takes over and Fitzgerald gets back to normal – which will take a little longer. If the Bulldogs lose, whatever – it’s a transition game. If the Cardinals lose, then it’s another rough loss to an SEC team in a good bowl.

Aeris Williams needs to have a big game. The MSU offense needs its leading rusher to be a workhorse to take all the pressure off of Thompson. The veteran cranked up 1,019 yards and five touchdowns on the year, but he faced to average more than five yards per carry in any of the last nine games. Big runs don’t matter as much as being able to crank up at least 20 effective runs.

Watch out for Thompson to have to throw on third downs. Louisville is loaded with ball-hawking playmakers, coming up with 12 interceptions on the year. The Cardinals are 5-1 when picking off a pass, only losing to Boston College 45-42. Ball security is a must for MSU. But …

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The TaxSlayer Bowl?

Ball security is going to be a problem for MSU.

It’s not that the Cardinals are amazing at taking the ball away – they’re fine – but it’s that Thompson and the Bulldogs will have to press. Jackson has to be amazing for UofL to pull this off, and he will be.

The MSU defense will do just enough to keep this from getting out of hand, but Jackson will always have an answer whenever the Bulldog offense does something positive.

Final Score

Louisville 31, Mississippi State 24
More Bowl Info & Get Tickets

Line

Louisville -6.5, o/u: 63

ATS Confidence: 2
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar

Must See Rating: 3
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, Defected London NYE
0: New Year’s Eve with Maroon 5, Las Vegas

TaxSlayer Bowl History, Results

Dec. 31, 2016 Georgia Tech 33, Kentucky 18
Jan. 2, 2016 Georgia 24 Penn State 17
Jan. 2, 2015 Tennessee 45 Iowa 28
Jan. 1, 2014 Nebraska 24 Georgia 19
Jan. 1, 2013 Northwestern 34 Mississippi State 20
Jan. 2, 2012 Florida 24 Ohio State 17
Jan. 1, 2011 Mississippi State 52 Michigan 14
Jan. 1, 2010 Florida State 33 West Virginia 21
Jan. 1, 2009 Nebraska 26 Clemson 21
Jan. 1, 2008 Texas Tech 31 Virginia 28
Jan. 1, 2007 West Virginia 38 Georgia Tech 35
Jan. 2, 2006 Virginia Tech 35 Louisville 24
Jan. 1, 2005 Florida State 30 West Virginia 18
Jan. 1, 2004 Maryland 41 West Virginia 7
Jan. 1, 2003 N.C. State 28 Notre Dame 6
Jan. 1, 2002 Florida State 30 Virginia Tech 17
Jan. 1, 2001 Virginia Tech 41 Clemson 20
Jan. 1, 2000 Miami 28 Georgia Tech 13
Jan. 1, 1999 Georgia Tech 35 Notre Dame 28
Jan. 1, 1998 North Carolina 42 Virginia Tech 3
Jan. 1, 1997 North Carolina 20 West Virginia 13
Jan. 1, 1996 Syracuse 41 Clemson 0
Dec. 30, 1994 Tennessee 45 Virginia Tech 23
Dec. 31, 1993 Alabama 24 North Carolina 10
Dec. 31, 1992 Florida 27 N.C. State 10
Dec. 29, 1991 Oklahoma 48 Virginia 14
Jan. 1, 1991 Michigan 35 Mississippi 3
Dec. 30, 1989 Clemson 27 West Virginia 7
Jan. 1, 1989 Georgia 34 Michigan State 27
Dec. 31, 1987 LSU 30 South Carolina 13
Dec. 27, 1986 Clemson 27 Stanford 21
Dec. 30, 1985 Florida State 34 Oklahoma 23
Dec. 28, 1984 Oklahoma State 21 South Carolina 14
Dec. 30, 1983 Florida 14 Iowa 6
Dec. 30, 1982 Florida State 31 West Virginia 12
Dec. 28, 1981 North Carolina 31 Arkansas 27
Dec. 29, 1980 Pittsburgh 37 South Carolina 9
Dec. 28, 1979 North Carolina 17 Michigan 15
Dec. 29, 1978 Clemson 17 Ohio State 15
Dec. 30, 1977 Pittsburgh 34 Clemson 3
Dec. 27, 1976 Notre Dame 20 Penn State 9
Dec. 29, 1975 Maryland 13 Florida 0
Dec. 30, 1974 Auburn 27 Texas 3
Dec. 29, 1973 Texas Tech 28 Tennessee 19
Dec. 30, 1972 Auburn 24 Colorado 3
Dec. 31, 1971 Georgia 7 North Carolina 3
Jan. 2, 1971 Auburn 35 Mississippi 28
Dec. 27, 1969 Florida 14 Tennessee 13
Dec. 28, 1968 Missouri 35 Alabama 10
Dec. 30, 1967 Florida State 17 Penn State 17
Dec. 31, 1966 Tennessee 18 Syracuse 12
Dec. 31, 1965 Georgia Tech 31 Texas Tech 21
Jan. 2, 1965 Florida State 36 Oklahoma 19
Dec. 28, 1963 North Carolina 35 Air Force 0
Dec. 29, 1962 Florida 17 Penn State 7
Dec. 30, 1961 Penn State 30 Georgia Tech 15
Dec. 31, 1960 Florida 13 Baylor 12
Jan. 2, 1960 Arkansas 14 Georgia Tech 7
Dec. 27, 1958 Mississippi 7 Florida 3
Dec. 28, 1957 Tennessee 3 Texas A&M 0
Dec. 29, 1956 Georgia Tech 21 Pittsburgh 14
Dec. 31, 1955 Vanderbilt 25 Auburn 13
Dec. 31, 1954 Auburn 33 Baylor 13
Jan. 1, 1954 Texas Tech 35 Auburn 13
Jan. 1, 1953 Florida 14 Tulsa 13
Jan. 1, 1952 Miami 14 Clemson 0
Jan. 1, 1951 Wyoming 20 Washington & Lee 7
Jan. 2, 1950 Maryland 20 Missouri 7
Jan. 1, 1949 Clemson 24 Missouri 23
Jan. 1, 1948 Maryland 20 Georgia 20
Jan. 1, 1947 Oklahoma 34 N.C. State 13
Jan. 1, 1946 Wake Forest 26 South Carolina 14

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