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Mississippi State 4-Point Favorites Over Louisville in the Music City Bowl

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Football

Dec 18, 2019 · 1:52 PM PST

Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN
Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN, will host the 2019 Music City Bowl. Photo by Paul Brennan.
  • Mississippi State is a four-point favorite over Louisville in the Music City Bowl on Monday, Dec. 30
  • The total opened at 63.5 and has stayed steady
  • The Cardinals improved from 2-10 to 7-5 in Scott Satterfield’s first season as head coach in Louisville

The Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-6, 3-5 SEC) are four-point favorites over the Louisville Cardinals (7-5, 5-3 ACC) in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30. The game is set for a 4:00 PM ET kickoff in Nashville.

The Cardinals are a surprising bowl entrant, managing to finish 7-5 in Scott Satterfield’s first season, just one year after going 2-10.

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs Louisville Cardinals odds

Team Moneyline Spread Over/Under
Mississippi State -180 -4.0 (-115) O 63.5 (-110)
Louisville +160 +4.0 (-105) U 63.5 (-110)

Odds taken Dec. 17.

After glancing at the Mississippi State vs Louisville odds to other bowl games, the total looks a bit high. Louisville has proven it can put up points (and allow them too!), but Mississippi State has been generally solid on defense — and should be even more stout on D at Nissan Stadium (more on that later).

Who will win this SEC-ACC matchup in Nashville? We analyze several factors and make a prediction, below.

UpHill Battle

The Bulldogs’ offense revolves around its junior running back, Kylin Hill, who led the conference most consider the best in the college game with 1,347 rushing yards. The junior has been nominated for the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.

While Hill has declared for the NFL Draft, he said he intends to play in the bowl game. This is a good thing for Bulldogs fans.

With the Music City Bowl being his last game in maroon and white, he’ll be looking to make history. He’s only 45 yards away from breaking Mississippi State’s single-season rushing record. There will surely be added emphasis on getting Hill the ball on Dec. 30. If SEC competition couldn’t slow him down, I don’t expect Louisville to do so.

Just Happy To Be Here

Louisville had a nice five-game improvement this season under first-year head coach Scott Satterfield. However, UL’s best win was probably more than two months ago, when the Cardinals beat then-No. 19 Wake Forest 62-59 in Winston-Salem in an absolute shootout during Week 7.

Since that epic victory, the team has gone 3-3, closing out the regular season with a 45-13 loss to Kentucky. About those Wildcats, UK lost to a certain Mississippi State squad, 28-13, in September.

Advantage Bulldogs in the common-opponent department.

The Cardinals have talent on offense. Tutu Atwell was the ACC’s leading receiver, putting up 1,129 yards and 12 touchdowns, and quarterback Micale Cunningham is a special athlete. But MSST shut down a similar dual-threat QB in John-Rhys Plumlee in the Egg Bowl. I see a similar scenario playing out here.

They’re Ba-ack

The true X-factor — or X-factors — for Mississippi State are senior defensive lineman Lee Autry, sophomore linebacker Willie Gay Jr., and sophomore safety Marcus Murphy. All three served eight-game suspensions this year for violating team rules. But all will be in the lineup — and hungry — for the bowl game.

Gay and Murphy both had pick-6s this season (and Murphy had another huge interception in the Egg Bowl), while Autry had 2.5 tackles for loss in the four games he played.  They’ll be extra motivated to end the season on a high note.

As noted above, the total seems a shade too high here. But the better play is giving the points and rolling with the Bulldogs.

Pick: Mississippi State -4 (-110)

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