TaxSlayer Bowl preview: Louisville vs. Mississippi State

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

The Louisville Cardinals faces the No. 23 Mississippi State Bulldogs in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The game will kick off at noon on ESPN from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

Both teams have identical 8-4 records.

Mississippi State will have an interim head coach in this game, as a month ago Dan Mullen accepted the Florida Gators head coaching job. Greg Knox will serve as the interim head coach until Joe Moorhead takes over on a full-time basis after this game.

Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson celebrates a touchdown against the Kentucky Wildcats (Getty Images)

Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson celebrates a touchdown against the Kentucky Wildcats (Getty Images)

According to Consensus Analysis, the Cardinals have a 57% chance to win this game, according to their public poll. Their expert poll; however, gives the Cardinals a 59% chance to win this game.

This is the fifth meeting between these two teams all-time. However, this is their first meeting since 1976.

In their last meeting, the Bulldogs won 30-21 on September 18th, 1976. Mississippi State also won meetings in 1973, 1974, and 1975.

Mississippi State is 12-8 all-time in Bowl games. They have won their last two Bowl games over the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks.

The Bulldogs have not lost a Bowl game since December 31st, 2014 when they lost 49-34 to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Orange Bowl.

This is the first-time they are playing in the TaxSlayer Bowl. However, they are familiar with playing in Bowl games in the State of Florida.

This is their seventh Bowl game all-time in the State of Florida. They also appeared in a Florida Bowl game last year, as they won 17-16 over the Redhawks in the St. Petersburg Bowl.

The Cardinals are 10-10-1 in Bowl games all-time. They lost their last Bowl game, as they lost 29-9 to the LSU Tigers in the Citrus Bowl.

Louisville has not won a Bowl game since defeating the Texas A&M Aggies, 27-21, in the Music City Bowl on December 30th, 2015.

Like the Bulldogs, this will be their first appearance in the TaxSlayer Bowl. However, like Mississippi State, this is their second straight year playing in a Bowl game in the State of Florida.

This will be Louisville’s sixth Bowl game in the State of Florida.

The Cardinals played in the 2006 Gator Bowl when they lost 35-24 to the Virginia Tech Hokies at Alltell Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. EverBank Field was previously named Alltell Stadium.

Louisville has won their last three regular-season games, defeating the Virginia Cavaliers, Syracuse Orange and the Kentucky Wildcats. They have not lost a game since being defeated by the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 42-32, on October 28th, 2017.

Mississippi State lost their last regular-season game, as they were defeated 31-28 to the Ole Miss Rebels on Thanksgiving evening in the Egg Bowl. They last won a game when they defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks, 28-21, on November 18th, 2017.

Louisville is averaging 39 points per game. Mississippi State is averaging 32.1 points per game.

Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was one of three Heisman finalists this season, has gone 241 of 399 for 3,489 passing yards. He has 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Jackson also leads the running backs with 208 carries for 1,443 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Jaylen Smith leads the receivers with 53 receptions for 873 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who likely will not play in this game after suffering a scary injury on Thanksgiving night, has gone 159 of 286 for 1,782 passing yards. He also has 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Keytaon Thompson will get the start if Fitzgerald can’t play. Thompson went 21 of 46 for 261 passing yards, including two touchdowns and an interception.

Aeris Williams leads the running backs with 224 carries for 1,019 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Keith Mixon leads the receivers with 18 receptions for 275 receiving yards and a touchdown.

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