The Louisville Cardinals were one of the best stories in the FBS in 2019, as first-year head coach Scott Satterfield exceeded expectations and led them to a 7-5 record and a Music City Bowl berth.
After flipping their record from 2-10 to 7-5, the Cardinals will try to reverse their recent bowl history, as they were 1-3 in Bobby Petrino's final four postseason clashes. Mississippi State regressed by two wins in Joe Moorhead's second season and it is facing a familiar foe at Nissan Stadium.
Two years ago, the Bulldogs defeated the Cardinals in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The SEC West side is 6-3 in bowl games this decade.
Music City Bowl Information
Date: Monday, December 30
Start Time: 4 p.m. ET
Odds (via Caesars): Mississippi State (-4); Over/Under: 63
The biggest piece of news ahead of the Music City Bowl was Mississippi State's quarterback decision. Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens was confirmed as the starter with Garrett Shrader dealing with an injury, per ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg.
Stevens last played against Abilene Christian on November 23, when he threw for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Since the start of October, the senior has four scoring throws, three interceptions and 770 total yards in four appearances.
He will have support in the backfield from running back Kylin Hill, who opted to play in the Music City Bowl instead of focusing on the NFL draft, per Tyler Horka of the Clarion-Ledger: "I'm playing in the bowl game. The only way I'm not playing in the bowl game is if I can't play in the bowl game injury-wise. Other than that, I'm playing in the bowl game."
Hill could be the difference-maker Monday, as he has four 100-yard outings in his past five games and ran for 275 yards in the previous two.
Louisville allows 211 rushing yards per contest, which is the fifth-worst mark of any program participating in a bowl game. In their regular-season finale, the Cardinals gave up 517 rushing yards to the Kentucky Wildcats.
Hill has not fared well in bowl games, as he produced 29 yards versus the Cardinals two years ago and 43 against the Iowa Hawkeyes last season, but that may change when he takes on the 2019 version of Louisville.
Mississippi State concedes 63 fewer rushing yards per game than its ACC foe, but it could be put under duress by the combination of quarterback Micale Cunningham and running back Javian Hawkins.
Hawkins, a freshman, has 375 rushing yards in the past two contests and is one of the few players to rack up a triple-digit performance versus the Clemson Tigers' ninth-ranked rushing defense.
The reliance on the run and the poor numbers both squads have put up against it could make the Music City Bowl a close, entertaining affair. Since 2010, six of the nine Music City Bowls have been determined by one possession, and in the past five seasons, all but one participant in the event eclipsed 20 points.
In five of their wins, the Bulldogs have hit at least 28 points, while the Cardinals have put up over 30 in six of their seven triumphs. Those trends suggest the over of 63 could be the best bet for Monday's ACC-SEC clash in Nashville.