NASHVILLE (AP) — Plenty of red and maroon will be on display on Lower Broadway in Nashville today as the annual Music City Bowl matches the Louisville Cardinals (7-5) against the Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-6).
The game kicks off at 3 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN. Mississippi State is a 3-1/2-point favorite.
MSU can finish with its first three-game winning streak to finish a season since 2013 and only the third since the end of World War II for a coach whose Egg Bowl win helped Joe Moorhead keep his job. Louisville can cap the Cardinals’ amazing turnaround in coach Scott Satterfield’s debut season by making him only the second coach to win his first bowl. A win also would be Louisville’s first on the field against Mississippi State.
The key matchup will feature Louisville’s run game — which is led by Javian Hawkins, who is averaging 118.3 yards a contest while piling up 1,420 yards, averaging 5.9 yards a carry — against Mississippi State’s defense. The Bulldogs rank 56th nationally defending the run, allowing only 148.6 yards a game.
Bulldogs running back Kylin Hill is a first-team All-Southeastern Conference pick as a junior. He’s playing his final game before entering the NFL draft. He led the SEC with 1,347 yards rushing and eight 100-yard rushing games.
Louisville QB Micale Cunningham leads a Cardinal offense that ranks 36th nationally in total offense, thanks to the redshirt sophomore providing some balance, averaging 162.4 yards passing a game. He has thrown 20 touchdowns with only five interceptions and is 6-4 as a starter.
Tommy Stevens will start at QB for Mississippi State with freshman Garrett Shrader likely out with an upper-body injury suffered during bowl practices.
Mississippi State is appearing in its 10th straight bowl game and is one of only five SEC programs — and one of 13 FBS programs — to go to a bowl each season between 2010-2019. The Bulldogs are 13-9 overall in bowls.
Mississippi State beat Louisville 31-27 in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl in the last meeting between the teams.
This is the second Music City Bowl berth for both teams. Mississippi State beat Wake Forest here in 2011, and Louisville beat Texas A&M in 2015.
Coach Joe Moorhead is just the second coach to lead MSU to bowl games in each of his first two seasons, joining Jackie Sherrill.
Louisville is 10-11-1 in bowls, winning three of its last six. This is the second bowl in three seasons for Louisville.
Louisville coach Scott Satterfield is the fourth U of L coach to reach a bowl game in his first season, trying to join Charlie Strong (2010) as only the second to win in his first bowl game appearance.
Louisville won five more games in 2019 than last season, tied for the second-best turnaround in school history.
Satterfield is 3-0 in bowl games as a head coach.
Louisville is 28-33 all-time in NFL stadiums, winning 7 of its last 12. The Cardinals are 3-0 at Nissan Stadium, including a win over Western Kentucky in September.
Louisville will be without left tackle Mekhi Becton, who is entering the NFL draft and not playing in the bowl. Becton started 33 straight games for the Cardinals.