Louisville Cardinals vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Taxslayer Bowl Pick - Betting Odds
In an early 12 p.m. start on ESPN from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, the ACC’s Louisville Cardinals and the SEC’s Mississippi Bulldogs clash in this season’s Taxslayer Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 30.
Louisville vs. Mississippi State Game Overview
Louisville opened this season ranked No. 16 in the initial AP Top 25 with high expectations in the ACC, but they never really materialized with early losses to North Carolina State and Boston College as part of a straight-up 8-4 run through its 12-game schedule. The Cardinals did finish the season 4-1 both SU and against the spread to earn a spot in this bowl. They were just 3-6-1 ATS this season when closing as favorites and the total stayed UNDER in their last three games.
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Lamar Jackson followed up his Heisman Trophy win in 2016 with a rather respectable performance this season. The highlights included 3,489 yards passing and 25 passing touchdowns to go with his team-high 1,443 rushing yards and 17 scores on the ground. He ended up finishing third in this year’s final Heisman vote. Louisville averaged 39.0 points a game and on the other side of the ball it held opposing teams to 27.1 points. The defense did step things up down the stretch by allowing a combined 48 points over its final three games.
The Bulldogs ended their regular season with a disappointing 31-28 loss to heated rival Ole Miss as 14-point home favorites to post a SU 8-4 mark in their 12 games played. They slipped to 7-5 ATS after failing to cover in three of their last four games and the total stayed UNDER in five of their last seven outings. Mississippi State closed as an underdog in four games this season; going an even 2-2 ATS.
One of the main reasons why the spread in this game has widened to 6.5 points in favor of the Cardinals is the loss of Bulldogs’ quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who went down with a severe ankle injury in the final game of the season. In his place, freshman Keytaon Thompson completed 13 of his 27 passing attempts for 195 yards and a score in that loss to Ole Miss. Mississippi State may have to go with a heavy dose of Aeris Williams and the running game with the added absence of Fitzgerald as the team’s second-leading rusher (984 yards).
Louisville vs. Mississippi State Game Betting Trends
- The Cardinals are 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight nonconference games and they have failed to cover in five of their last seven games against a team with a SU winning record. The total has stayed UNDER in their last four bowl games.
- The Bulldogs have gone 1-4 ATS in their last five games against the ACC with the total going OVER in four of those contests. They improve to 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against a SU winning team.
- This ACC/SEC clash will be the first meeting between these two teams.
Louisville vs. Mississippi State Free Game Prediction
Louisville has the definite edge in this matchup with its top playmaker Jackson healthy and under center. The Bulldogs do come into this game with one of the stingier defenses in the nation with a points-allowed average of 20.4, but shutting down one of the most explosive duel threats in the country for all four quarters could be a tall task. As long as the spread stays less than seven points, I am confident that the Cardinals can come out on top in this one both SU and ATS.