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Brenden Welper | | December 30, 2019

Louisville vs. Mississippi State: Music City Bowl prediction, time, TV channel, preview

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Louisville (7-5) and Mississippi State (6-6) will meet today, Dec. 30, in the 2019 Music City Bowl. Find the game time, television info, preview and score prediction below.

Kickoff is at 4 p.m. ET at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. The broadcast will be on ESPN and the game can be streamed on WatchESPN.

Louisville vs. Mississippi State: Music City Bowl preview, prediction

This year's Music City Bowl will be the sixth all-time meeting between Louisville and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs lead the series 3-2 and won the most recent matchup 31-27 in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl. This game will mark the 23rd bowl appearance for both programs.

After finishing with a 2-10 record last year, the Cardinals responded with a 7-5 regular season under first-year head coach Scott Satterfield. They went 1-1 against ranked opponents, dropping their opener to then-No. 9 Notre Dame and upsetting then-No. 19 Wake Forest on Oct. 12. 

Mississippi State began the season 3-1, but lost five of its next six (including four straight). Two of those losses came against top-10 teams: then-No. 7 Auburn on Sept. 28 and then-No. 2 LSU on Oct. 19. The Bulldogs won their final two games to remain bowl eligible for the 10th-consecutive season.

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The Cardinals are averaging 32.7 points per game and they're led by sophomore quarterback Micale Cunningham, who has thrown for 1,786 yards and 20 touchdown passes in 2019. Cunningham has completed 61.5 percent of his passes and has only thrown five interceptions. He also ran for 401 yards and six touchdowns on 106 attempts (3.8 yards per carry).

His favorite target is fellow sophomore Tutu Atwell, whose 12 receiving touchdowns are tied for the 10th-most in the nation. Atwell caught 61 passes for 1,129 yards in the regular season. Wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick (33 receptions, 598 yards, six touchdowns) and tight end Marshon Ford (17 receptions, 239 yards, five touchdowns) are additional options for Cunningham if Atwell faces double coverage.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs' offense enters the Music City Bowl with a scoring average of 27.8 points per game. Mississippi State has alternated between Garrett Shrader and Tommy Stevens at quarterback this season. But Shrader, the planned starter for this game, is likely out.

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Stevens will start in his place. The senior has thrown for 934 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions this season. Those numbers are similar to Shrader, who finished with 1,170 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

A late change under center means that Mississippi State could rely more on running back Kylin Hill than originally intended. After declaring for the NFL draft, the junior will play in the Music City Bowl. Hill ran for 1,347 yards on 235 attempts (5.7 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns in the regular season. 

Louisville vs. Mississippi State: Music City Bowl prediction

How much of an impact will Garrett Shrader's absence have on this game? That's the burning question for the Bulldogs. They'll have to put up some points to keep pace with Louisville's offense.

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But with the passing game in question, Mississippi State will likely need one more dominant performance from Kylin Hill. That's asking a lot of one player. And it might be too much.

The prediction: Louisville 24, Mississippi State 10

louisville   mississippi state
7-5 (5-3 ACC) Record (conference) 6-6 (3-5 SEC)
32.7 Points per game 27.8
33.8 Points allowed 28.1
442.1 Yards per game 402.9
228.0 Passing YPG 176.0
214.1 Rushing YPG 226.9
446.1 Yards allowed per game 389.9
235.3 Passing yards allowed 241.3
210.8 Rushing yards allowed 148.6
Micale Cunningham
1,786 yards yards (20 TD, 5 INT)
Passing  Garrett Shrader
1,170 yards (8 TD, 5 INT) 
Javian Hawkins
1,420 yards (5.9 per att.), 8 TD
Rushing  Kylin Hill
1,347 yards  (5.7 per att.), 10 TD
Tut Atwell
1,129 yards, 12 TD
Receiving   Deddrick Thomas
390 yards, 2 TD
Monty Montgomery
20 tackles, 5 sacks, 3 FF, 1 FR
Defensive leader Cameron Dantzler
31 tackles, 2 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR

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