Miss. State Cowbells Will Be Ringing Loud And Proud In Music City Bowl vs Louisville

By: Tony Thomas  December 25, 2019

Mississippi State cowbells will be ringing loud and proud as fans descend on Music Row and Nashville to cheer on their Bulldogs, when they take on the Louisville Cardinals in the Franklin Mortgage Company Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium on Monday, December 30th. Kickoff is set for 3:00 pm.

The Bulldogs and Cardinals have each appeared in this game before, with Mississippi State beating Wake Forest 23-17 in 2011, and Louisville beating Texas A&M 27-21 in 2015.

Mississippi State leads the series with Louisville 3-2, the last meeting coming in 2017 in the Tax Slayer Bowl. Mississippi State won 31-27.

The 6-6 Bulldogs are 14-11 under second-year head coach Joe Moorhead. They faced three Top 10 teams this season in #7 Auburn, #2 LSU, and #4 Alabama. All three of those games were losses.

The Bulldogs are coming off a dramatic 21-10 win over in-state rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.

Runnin’ Wild

Mississippi State ranks #18 in the nation in rushing, averaging 227 yards per game. The ground game is led by junior running back Kylin Hill, who has rushed for 1347 yards and 10 touchdowns. He averages 5.73 yards per carry and 112 yards per game. As a team, they rank #3 in the SEC at 226 yards rushing per game.

In the quarterback department, it has been signal-caller by committee. Senior transfer Tommy Stevens has played in only eight games due to injury. The bulk of the starts have been with freshman Garrett Schrader, who has thrown for 1170 yards and 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Schrader has mainly targeted three receivers: Deddrick Thomas, Osirus Mitchell, Stephen Guidry have combined for 80 catches for 1084 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The defense is led by LB Erroll Thompson (84 tackles), DB Jaquarius Landrews (72 tackles), DB Brian Cole II (67 tackles, 7.5 TFL’s), LB Leo Lewis (63 tackles) and DL Chauncey Rivers (7.5 TFL’s and 5 sacks).

The Bulldogs recorded 2 interceptions against Southern Miss, Tennessee, and Abilene Christian; 10 tackles for loss against Abilene Christian and nine versus Ole Miss; and four sacks against both Ole Miss and Abilene Christian.

Balanced Offense

Louisville (7-5) is coming off a 45-13 loss at Kentucky. They went 1-2 versus Top 25 teams this season, with losses against #9 Notre Dame and #3 Clemson and a win against #19 Wake Forest.

The Cardinals are #23 in the nation in rushing offense at 214 yards per game, led by freshman RB Javian Hawkins. Hawkins has rushed for 1420 yards and 8 touchdowns, averaging 5.9 yards per game. He is averaging 118 yards per game on the ground, good enough for #7 in the FBS rankings. They rank #3 in the ACC in rushing offense.

Louisville is scoring 32 points per game and have scored 40 or more points 4 times this season. They are the #3 scoring offense in the ACC.

The offense is led by QB Malik Cunningham, who has thrown for 1782 yards and 20 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. He is completed 61% of his passes.

Cunningham’s favorite target is WR Chatarius Atwell. Atwell has 60 catches on the season for 1125 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Cardinals are averaging 442 yards per game in total offense.

Defense is Lacking

Louisville is allowing 446 yards per game, which ranks #107 in the FBS. They rank #111 in scoring defense, allowing 33 points per game, #115 in rushing defense and #82 in pass defense.

In their season finale loss against Kentucky, the Cardinals recorded zero sacks and only 2 tackles for loss while giving up 517 yards rushing.

Their leading tackler is LB C.J. Avery with 84 tackles. LB Rodney Burns leads with nine tackles for loss and LB Monty Montgomery has 5 sacks on the season.

Mississippi State is a 3.5 point favorite in this game.

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