With the exception of last season, the Music City Bowl has given us plenty of competitive matchups over the years, and the 2019 version figures to be no different with the Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-6, 3-5 SEC) taking on the Louisville Cardinals (7-5, 5-3 ACC).
It was a disappointing season for Mississippi State, who expected much better than a .500 record in head coach Joe Moorhead’s second season. The Bulldogs needed a narrow, controversial one-point victory over rival Ole Miss just to secure bowl eligibility in the final week of the season and were not at all competitive in blowout losses to Auburn, LSU, Alabama, and Texas A&M. One bright spot this season for MSU was the play of star running back Kylin Hill, who rushed for 1,347 yards in his junior year.
On the flip side, Louisville had as good of a year as you could ask for with first-year head coach Scott Satterfield after the debacle that was the 2018 season under Bobby Petrino. The Cardinals pulled off upsets of Wake Forest and Virginia and won most of the games that they were heavily favored in, which could not be said of the previous staff. A victory over an SEC opponent would be the perfect capper to a successful season for Louisville.
Numbers aside, you have a team in Mississippi State that did not meet expectations this season, while Louisville surpassed expectations in 2019. That could signal motivation being a major factor in this matchup, which is not uncommon for bowl games. The Bulldogs probably have more talent on both sides of the football, but the Cardinals are the team entering Monday’s matchup with far more inspiration, as many did not expect them to be playing in a bowl game so soon.