The 2019 Music City Bowl is a interesting match-up between two schools that met just two years ago in the 2017 Gator Bowl. The Mississippi State Bulldogs come in at 6-6 out of the SEC and the Louisville Cardinals from the ACC hold a 7-5 record. In their last meeting the Bulldogs upset the Cardinals 31-27. That was the final collegiate game for Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. It is always a big deal in bragging rights when these two conferences collide. The SEC holds a 7-4 record over the ACC in the bowl. The Music City Bowl is played at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the same stadium that the Tennessee Titans from the NFL play in. The game will be played on December 30th and will kick-off at 3:00 PM Central time and will be televised by ESPN.
2019 Music City Bowl Preview
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Outside of an Egg Bowl victory over Ole Miss it has not been a great year for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs took a step backwards after going 8-5 in the first year under head coach Joe Moorhead. The best win of the season came in late September with a 28-13 victory over Kentucky. The offense did go from ranked 10th in the SEC in 2018 to ranked 7th. Obviously, that is improvement but not good enough to win in the always tough SEC West. The back and forth with quarterbacks Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader did not help with consistency on offense. Stevens will get the start in the Music City Bowl due to Shrader being out with an injury sustained in fight during practice. Stevens played in five games passing for 934 yards with nine touchdown passes. It will also be the final time Mississippi State fans will see running back Kylin Hill in the maroon and white. Hill led the SEC in rushing this season and looks to have a successful career at the next level.
On the defensive side the Bulldogs finished 10th in total defense in the SEC. Last season Mississippi State had the first ranked defense and only allowed 12 points per contest. The drop-off was to be expected with the departures of Jeffery Simmons, Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Abram to the NFL. All three mentioned were first round draft picks. This season’s team gave up 28.1 points per game and struggled against the run and pass giving up 389.9 yards per game. The team isn’t without talent though. A player to watch on defense will be junior linebacker Erroll Thompson. Thompson led the team in tackles with 84 and in the last game against Ole Miss collected 11 on the night.
The Cardinals were in rough shape after a 2018 season that saw the end of the second tenure of Bobby Petrino. The team went 2-10 and winless in the ACC. The program needed new life and then entered 2019 ACC Coach of the Year Scott Satterfield. Satterfield won three consecutive Sun Belt championships at Appalachian State and looked to reignite the Cardinal offense. The offense finished fifth in the ACC with the rushing attack ranked third. Running back Javian Hawkins finished third in the league with 1,420 yards and added in eight touchdowns. The passing game is good as well and showcases leading receiving Chatarius Atwell at 1,129 yards on the season.
While the offense showed great improvement this season, the defense is a work in progress. The Cardinals defensive unit gave up 33.8 points per game and allowed 446.3 yards. That total ranked 12th in the ACC. The Cardinals closed out the season giving up 45 points to Kentucky who had their struggles on offense throughout the season.
2019 Music City Bowl Prediction
This one should be good. With both defenses having issues throughout the season this should be a high scoring game that comes down to the final minutes. The big key in this game will be the turnover battle, and which offense makes the most mistakes. The Louisville offense seems to be the more trustworthy of the two and that will equal victory for the Cardinals. Louisville 45, Mississippi State 38.