2019 Music City Bowl
After trailing 14-0 early, The Louisville Cardinals scored 31 unanswered points to defeat Mississippi State 38-28 in the 2019 Music City Bowl. Quarterback Micale Cunningham led the way for the Cardinals by passing for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Cunningham also added 81 yards on the ground. The performance by Cunningham earned him the MVP for The Music City Bowl. Louisville gained 510 yards and the defense held the Bulldogs to 366 yards. This was the final game for SEC leading rusher Kylin Hill. Hill totaled just three yards on seven carries and injured his ankle early in the game.
Good Start For Mississippi State
The Bulldogs got off to a 14-0 early lead and had control of the game early. On the first Louisville drive the Cardinals drove the ball 96 yards after starting on their own three-yard line. The possession ended when receiver Dez Fitzpatrick fumbled at the Bulldog one. The Bulldogs took that possession 99 yards for the score to go up 7-0.
Two key plays were runs of 16 and 24 yards by quarterback Tommy Stevens. Stevens capped off the drive with another run of three yards to made it to the endzone. Stevens started due to injury to freshman Garrett Shrader. Stevens ended the game as the leading rusher for the Bulldogs with 71 yards on 17 carries. The two teams would then exchange three punts before the scoring got going again. The Bulldogs had a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a Nick Gibson run with 10:19 left in the first half. Then the game flipped.
31 Unanswered Points For The Cardinals
On the following Louisville possession, the Cardinals moved the ball down the field quickly to get in Bulldog territory. The drive was capped off by a double pass that saw star receiver Tuta Atwell connect with Marshon Ford on a 33-yard passing touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff Bulldog returner JaVonta Payton fumbled, but the Cardinals were unable to convert. The half ended with a Ryan Chalifoux 31-yard field goal as time expired and Louisville trailed 14-10.
The running game was a big part of the success for Louisville in Nashville. The Cardinals ran for a total of 198, and star running back Javian Hawkins added 105 and a score. The offense kept having their way with the Mississippi State defense and added two more touchdowns after halftime. Between those scores was another by defense on a fumble recovery Khane Pass on a Tommy Stevens scramble.
Mississippi State was able to end to the unanswered streak early in the fourth when Stevens connected with Stephen Guidry for a 18-yard score. The Bulldogs forced a punt on the next series but were unable to move the ball and turned it over on downs. Hawkins scored his lone touchdown for the Cardinals with under two minutes to seal the victory for Louisville. Stevens threw his second passing score with 27 seconds remaining when he connected with Osirus Mitchell for 24 yards.
For Mississippi State they will need to figure some things out after a disappointing second season under head coach Joe Moorhead. Following the successful tenure of Dan Mullen should make the fans in Starkville wanting and expecting better than 6-7. The Bulldogs will open the 2020 season against New Mexico at home.
For Louisville finishing 8-5 in the first year of Scott Satterfield is going to add excitement around the program. Especially with the growth of the offense he is first year at the helm. Key players in Micale Cunningham, Javian Hawkins, and Tutu Atwell do return, and improvement on defense could make for a difficult team to deal with in the ACC.