Louisville & Mississippi State will square off in Nashville at Nissan Stadium for the Music City Bowl on 12/30. The Bulldogs finished the 2019 with a 6-6 record including a thrilling victory in the Egg Bowl vs. Ole Miss. MSU owns wins over Louisiana-Lafeyette, Southern Miss, Kentucky, Arkansas, Abilene Christian and Ole Miss. The losses for the Bulldogs came against Kansas State, Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama.

Mississippi State had a rough stretch from mid-September to the end of October where the only win was against UK. But the Bulldogs did play the 7th toughest schedule in America in 2019 according to Sagarin.

Mississippi State was led by junior Running Back Kylin Hill with 1347 yards and 10 TDs. The Bulldogs rushed Hill nearly 20x per game for 112.25 yards per game on an average of 5.73 yards per rush. Hill has declared for the NFL Draft but is going to play in the Music City Bowl vs. Louisville. Hill has cited his main motivation for playing in the bowl is breaking Mississippi State’s single season rushing record of 1391 yards. Currently Kylin Hill has 1347 yards and is just 44 yards away from the record.

Obviously Louisville is going to have to work diligently to stop Hill, but the Bulldog rushing attack also extends to the Quarterback position as QB Garrett Shrader rushed for 587 yards on the season (11x per game). Mississippi State is a run the damn ball offense and that’s been a sore subject for Louisville lately having given up 261 yards rushing to Syracuse and 517 yards to Kentucky in the final two games of the season. Miss State’s run offense vs. Louisville’s run defense is a huge advantage for the Bulldogs coming into this game.

Does the nearly 4 week break help UofL get healthy for one last ride in 2019? We’ll see, but the Cards will be playing without Russ Yeast in the bowl game (he’ll be ready for Spring).

Offensively Louisville will be without Mekhi Becton at Left Tackle who has declared for the 2020 NFL Draft and is going to begin his preparations for the NFL Draft process by noting playing in the Music City Bowl. Becton’s absence is not at all unexpected but it is a gigantic loss for the Louisville offense. Much of the run concepts were centered around Becton’s dominating presence…. BUT! the Cards did beat NC State without Mekhi in the lineup as he was nursing an ankle injury suffered versus Miami.

Speaking of NC State Mississippi State’s defense on paper compares very closely to the Wolfpack in terms of rushing and passing yardage allowed, but Mississippi State’s strength of schedule gives the Bulldogs an edge in Bill Connelly’s SP+ ranking for Mississippi State. Connelly ranks the Bulldogs defensively between WKU and NC State and the Cards were able to move the ball versus both of those teams. I expect UofL will be able to have some success offensively even without Mekhi Becton.

Overall the Cards are better on 3rd down offensively and nearly on par with the Bulldogs defensively on 3rd down. Mississippi State is a few notches better than the Cards in the Red Zone. It’s also interesting that both teams average and give up 6+ yards per play highlighting ‘shoot out’ potential.

Louisville Mississippi State
Strength of Schedule (Sagarin)41st7th
Scoring Offense (ppg)32.7 (40th)27.6 (75th)
Total Offense (ypg)442.1 (36th)402.9 (65th)
Passing Offense (ypg)228.0 (70th)176.0 (112th)
Rushing Offense (ypg)214.08 (23rd)226.92 (18th)
Scoring Defense (ppg)33.8 (111th)28.1 (68th)
Total Defense (ypg)446.1 (107th)389.9 (68th)
Passing Defense (ypg)235.3 (84th)241.3 (92nd)
Rushing Defense (ypg)210.83 (115th)148.58 (56th)
Punt Returns (ypr)12.47 (21st)4.36 (112th)
Kickoff Returns (ypr)27.97 (4th)17.55 (112th)
Opponent Punt Returns (ypr)4.89 (26th)9.39 (91st)
Opponent Kickoff Return (ypr)22.3 (96th)19.53 (41st)
Punting (ypp)42.13 (60th)42.52 (50th)
Field Goal %66.67% (91st)75.0% (62nd)
Opponent FG %69.2% (48th)76.9% (78th)
First Downs (per game)20.0 (84th)21.3 (62nd)
Opponent First Downs (per game)21.8 (83rd)20.1 (55th)
Penalties (ypg)60.8 (97th)46.5 (31st)
Turnover Margin (season)-2 (81st)2 (52nd)
Time of Possession31:26.67 (34th)31:55.42 (26th)
Sacks (Per Game)1.92 (79th)1.83 (83rd)
Tackles for Loss (Per Game)5.75 (73rd)5.17 (96th)
Sacks Allowed (Per Game)3.00 (116th)2.25 (78th)
Tackles for Loss Allowed (Per Game)9.75 (130th)5.42 (45th)
Interceptions Gained (season)7 (97th)10 (55th)
Passes Defended (per game)4.33 (56th)4.5 (49th)
Fumbles Recovered (season)9 (34th)13 (3rd)
Fumbles Forced (season)12 (23rd)17 (5th)
Fumbles Lost (season)9 (77th)11 (107th)
Interceptions Lost (Season)9 (55th)10 (70th)
Kick/Punts Blocked (season)0 (130th)0 (130th)
3rd Down Conversion %42.94% (35th)39.13% (74th)
4th Down Conversion %61.9% (23rd)41.18% (106th)
Opponent 3rd Down Conversion %38.27% (55th)37.41% (49th)
Opponent 4th Down Conversion %45.45% (41st)56.25% (85th)
Red Zone Conversion %82.5% (74th)85.37% (54th)
Red Zone TD Conversion %70.0% (25th)73.17% (15th)
Red Zone Trips40 (87th)41 (82nd)
Opponent Red Zone Conversion %83.33% (63rd)79.59% (38th)
Opponent Red Zone TD Conversion %72.92% (123rd)65.31% (94th)
Opponent Red Zone Trips48 (92nd)49 (100th)
Kickoffs (ypk)59.67 (85th)58.48 (106th)
Plays801 (96th)782 (109th)
Yards Per Play6.62 (14th)6.18 (38th)
Yads Per Play Allowed6.37 (111th)6.2 (101st)
Plays +10 Yards177 (58th)191 (35th)
Plays +20 Yards74 (15th)57 (64th)
Plays +30 Yards38 (13th)22 (92nd)
Plays +40 Yards28 (2nd)8 (113th)
Opponent Plays +10 Yards187 (104th)179 (88th)
Opponent Plays +20 Yards61 (85th)64 (102nd)
Opponent Plays +30 Yards32 (101st)28 (82nd)
Opponent Plays +40 Yards20 (116th)8 (14th)
Rushing Plays +10 Yards83 (18th)100 (7th)
Rushing Plays +20 Yards31 (8th)27 (16th)
Rushing Plays +30 Yards15 (14th)11 (26th)
Passing Plays +10 Yards94 (94th)91 (100th)
Passing Plays +20 Yards43 (53rd)30 (107th)
Passing Plays +30 Yards23 (25th)11 (113th)
Passing Plays +40 Yards17 (6th)3 (123rd)
Opp Rushing Plays +10 Yards79 (119th)65 (77th)
Opp Rushing Plays +20 Yards24 (115th)15 (58th)
Opp Rushing Plays +30 Yards15 (123rd)4 (19th)
Opp Passing Plays +10 Yards108 (71st)114 (86th)
Opp Passing Plays +20 Yards37 (44th)49 (115th)
Opp Passing Plays +30 Yards17 (51st)24 (115th)
Opp Passing Plays +40 Yards11 (96th)7 (34th)
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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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