Mississippi State vs. Louisville: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl fearless prediction and game preview.
Mississippi State vs. Louisville: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Broadcast
Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Louisville (7-5) Game Preview
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Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
– It’s been an interesting bowl over the years. It’s an SEC bowl with the Big Ten and ACC being a part of it, and there have been some whoppers. Since 2004 – when Minnesota beat Alabama; that was a LONG time ago – 12 of the 15 games were decided by eight points or fewer, and then …
Auburn 63, Purdue 14.
This year it’s a bit different. Mississippi State is coming off a disappointing season after making a bit of a splash in the first season under Joe Moorhead in 2018. Louisville is on the flip side with a great first year under Scott Satterfield, who pulled the program out of a nosedive.
– Satterfield is perfect in bowls. He was 3-0 in bowls at Appalachian State, and his team – even though he was off to Louisville – blew out Middle Tennessee in last year’s New Orleans.
Now his magic needs to rub off on a program that struggled in the extra games over the last several seasons, losing three of its last four since beating Miami in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl – that was before Louisville was in the ACC. Win, and an eight-win campaign would be a brilliant finish to a wonderful season.
The last bowl game was a 31-27 loss to Mississippi State in the 2017 TaxSlayer.
– Moorhead could use a bowl win. It took a bad touchdown celebration and a missed extra point by Ole Miss just to get bowl eligible, and that all comes after dropping the Outback Bowl to Iowa to close out last season.
Mississippi State has been a wonderful bowl team over the last two decades, winning nine of 11 after dropping the Cotton Bowl to Texas in the 1998 season.
Dan Mullen lost just two bowl games at MSU in seven tries. It wouldn’t be a great look for Moorhead to be 0-2.
CFN Podcast: Music City Bowl discussion, picks
Why Mississippi State Will Win
– Kylin Hill has one more game left with the Bulldogs before taking off for the next level. The junior ran for 1,347 yards and ten scores as one of the team’s few big bright spots, but he’s leaving early after he gets a shot to up his stock with one more massive game. He hit the 100-yard mark eight times on the season with two three-touchdown games, and now he gets to rumble against the light Louisville defensive front.
For all of the good things the Cardinals did this year, stopping the run wasn’t among them. It had problems against everyone and anyone who could run even a little bit, and now it’s about to get hammered on.
Kentucky rumbled for 517 yards in the regular season finale. Miss State will bring a mix of Hill, the mobile quarterbacks, and everyone else who wants to carry the load.
– The Mississippi State pass rush is nowhere near the killer it was last season, but it catches a break going against an offensive front that’s a disaster in pass protection, but is good for the ground game. Gone, though, is star OT Mekhi Becton, the 6-7, 368-pound all-star who’ll be in the mix for the late first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
He’s leaving early and won’t play in the bowl. The Cardinal O that allows close to three sacks per game – and is the second-worst in the nation in tackles for loss allowed – needed him.
– 360 yards. That’s been the big number for Mississippi State this season, going 5-1 when coming up with 360 – only losing in a shootout against Texas A&M – and 1-5 when failing to hit the mark. Louisville allowed more than 360 yards nine times this season and gives up an average of 446 yards per game.
Why Louisville Will Win
– And here comes the Louisville passing attack. Micale Cunningham grew into the job despite a few bangs and bruises along the way. He’s not all that big, but he runs well and he throws a terrific deep ball, averaging a whopping 11.4 yards per pass with 20 touchdowns and just five picks on the season.
He could stand to be a bit more consistent and accurate on his short-to-midrange throws, but he can take over a game – and make up for a slew of problems on the defensive side – with the deep ball.
– Louisville might not have a big-time D, but it’s good enough at taking the ball away from time to time. Turnovers are a really, really big deal for the Cardinals, surviving tight battles with Boston College, Wake Forest and Virginia by forcing mistakes. The team is 5-1 when coming up with two takeaways or more – with four of those wins over bowl teams – and only beating Eastern Kentucky and and Syracuse when it didn’t generate two turnovers.
Mississippi State has turned the ball over 21 times on the season, going 0-4 when giving it away three times, and 1-4 when losing the turnover battle. Louisville needs to win that.
– A whole lot is made out of Cunningham and the passing game, but UofL has a wonderful freshman in Javian Hawkins who can rip off yards in chunks. Cunningham ran for six scores, and slasher Hassan Hall had a few nice games, but it was the speedy Hawkins who took over the ground game with 1,420 yards and eight touchdowns, coming up with well over 100 yards seven times. Mississippi State can survive if the Cardinals run well, but it’s in trouble if that’s working and Cunningham is going off, too.