A largely unflattering season for the Mississippi State Bulldogs comes to an end on Monday. The Bulldogs, 6-6 on the year, face off with one of the nation’s biggest surprises in the form of the ACC’s Louisville Cardinals in the 2019 Music City Bowl.
Louisville was dreadful a season ago. In Bobby Petrino’s final season, the Cardinals finished the year with a 2-10 record and were not only one of the ACC’s worst teams, but one of the worst in the entire FBS. Scott Satterfield left the Appalachian State Mountaineers to coach the Cardinals, and all he did was help produce a whopper of a one year turnaround. The Cards finished the year at 7-5 and were second to the Clemson Tigers in the ACC with a 5-3 record. While there is obviously still a significant gap between them and the Fiesta Bowl, the turnaround is still rather impressive.
As far as this game goes, it could prove to be intriguing on some levels. For one, after a scuffle at practice, Tommy Stevens will replace Garrett Shrader at quarterback. Stevens was the starter for State at the beginning of the year and has since made eight appearances as a starter, going for 934 yards through the air and 310 on the ground. Also, Cameron Dantzler is sitting out the game because Dantzler wants to prepare for the NFL Draft. But State will be armed with Kylin Hill, the dynamic running back who’s made a habit of running over opposing defenses.
On a Louisville note, touted tackle Mekhi Becton is not playing. Becton is sitting the Music City Bowl out because he wants to prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft, much like State’s Cameron Dantzler. Louisville has one of the best rushing attacks in the entire nation, but how will they play without Becton? That’s a legit question worth asking. I’d still look for the likes of quarterback Malik Cunningham and running back Javian Hawkins, who ran for over 1,400 yards this season, to have good days at the office against a very skittish State defense. They have done well at corralling the run this year, but I do wonder about them against the Cards here.
This feels like a game that State should win on paper. The Cardinals been very impressive this year by their standards, but the Bulldogs are more talented in a lot of phases. But this has been such a disaster of a season in Starkville. This team probably has no business being 6-6, and I’m not certain that things will suddenly change in this bowl game. The line is at 4.5 for this game and I’d be very tempted to take the points in favor of the underdog Cardinals here.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Watch Online: WatchESPN
Spread: Mississippi State -4.5
Moneyline: Louisville +175 | Mississippi State -210