Mississippi State entered its game against Louisville (7-6) in the Music City Bowl after a thrilling win over Ole Miss on Thanksgiving night in Starkville. The Bulldogs (6-7, 3-5 SEC), playing it its 10th straight bowl game, would open up a 14-0 lead over the Cardinals. Head coach Scott Satterfield and his squad would score 24 unanswered points en-route to a 38-28 decisive win in front of 46,850 in Nashville.
Here are three takeaways in the win over Mississippi State
Turnovers and sacks were the dagger today for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State took advantage of a crucial turnover by Louisville early in the game, inside the MSU 1-yard line. The Bulldogs, behind quarterback Tommy Stevens, would orchestrate a 99-yard scoring drive that would end in a three-yard Stevens run.
Mississippi State would open up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but it would not be able to hold the lead due to turnovers itself.
Tommy Stevens would fumble in the 3rd quarter to open the Cardinals lead to 10-points and create some seperation.
Another key component in the loss for Mississippi State was the inability to protect its quarterback. Tommy Stevens was sacked four times on the day, many times in crucial situations.
The Bulldog defense left too many Cardinal receivers wide open, mainly Tutu Atwell
Make no mistake, it was a defense that was without its best linebacker Erroll Thompson due to injury. Compound the fact the Bulldogs were without four out of five defensive backs that started the season, they couldn’t make the stops when it mattered.
It was the Tutu Atwell show. The Cardinal sophomore receiver would finish with nine catches for 147 yards. He also threw for a 33-yard touchdown as well.
In the first half, the Bulldogs held the Cardinals on downs and early in the 3rd quarter the Cardinals missed a field goal.
It was the double pass that began the scoring for the Cardinals when the all-everything wide receiver connected with Marshon Ford from 33-yards out.
He was wide open.
The scoring would only increase when Cardinal quarterback Micale Cunningham hit hit Devante Peete for the 24-yard touchdown.
He, too, was wide open.
The dagger for the MSU defense was the inability to get off the field on 3rd down. The Cardinals were 6-11 on the day, good enough for 64.7-percent.
The MSU offense ony mustered 74 yards in both the 2nd and 3rd quarter combined
Running back Kylin Hill was hampered with an injured ankle that would limit him all day. He would finish with three yards on seven carries. The Bulldogs would finish the day with Stevens leading the Bulldogs in rushing with 71 yards on 17 carries.
In a game where the Bulldogs needed to run the ball all over the 114th ranked rushing defense in the country, the Dawgs did anything of the sort. The Cardinal defense limited MSU to just 145 yards on 36 carries in the game.
Louisville would amass 510 total yards on the day to only 366 total yards for the Bulldogs.
“Dissapointing outcome and want to thank our fans for coming. We always get great support in bowl games. Certainly 6-7 was not the season we desired but we were able to battle through a lot of adversity this season. I needed to be better today but I thought our kids played hard,” MSU head coach Joe Moorhead.
“I just have to take care of the ball better,” MSU quarterback Tommy Stevens said fighting back tears.
“I don’t want anything to get lost in the loss today all the positive momentum we have going. We are recruiting well and our current classes are developing. The future is very bright,” Moorhead
“I wasn’t going to let this team down tonight. I just tweaked my knee in the pregame warmups. I was going to play tonight for my teammates,” MSU OL Darryl Williams