– For a school-record eighth straight season, No. 23 Mississippi State will battle in a bowl contest as the Bulldogs face Louisville in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl at 11 a.m. CT Saturday at EverBank Field.
State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) is vying for its third nine-win season in the past four years and is searching for its third consecutive bowl victory. The Cardinals (8-4, 4-4 ACC) enter the TaxSlayer Bowl on a three-game win streak.
“It’s been a great week of preparation,” interim head coach Greg Knox said. “We’re excited about this great opportunity. We’re excited about the bowl game. We’re excited about our opponent. We’re playing one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Not many times in your career do you have the opportunity to play a Heisman Trophy winner, and that guy [Lamar Jackson] is special.”
The Bulldog offense will face a Louisville defense that ranks second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing defense (139.8). Turning in a career season, Aeris Williams ranks sixth in the SEC with 1,019 yards rushing to become the first MSU running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season since Josh Robinson in 2014. Williams is now just 47 yards shy of tying Anthony Dixon for 10th place in MSU single-season history. The A-Train averages 4.6 yards per carry and has rushed for five scores this season.
True freshman Keytaon Thompson will earn his first career start at quarterback in place of an injured Nick Fitzgerald. Thompson is the first true freshman to start under center for MSU since Damian Williams got the nod in the Egg Bowl versus Ole Miss on Nov. 28, 2013. He is the first true freshman quarterback to start a bowl game for the Bulldogs since Wesley Carroll in the 2007 Liberty Bowl.
Defensively, MSU will face one of its toughest challenges in Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, who is just one of three quarterbacks nationally, joining MSU’s own Fitzgerald, to throw for over 1,700 yards and rush for over 900 yards this season. The defensive squad is currently ranked in the Top 15 nationally in three categories, including total defense (10th – 302.0), pass defense (13th – 175.0) and opponent third-down conversion (12th - .312).
The game will be televised live on ESPN with Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jordan Rodgers (analyst) and Cole Cubelic (sideline) calling the action. Live streaming video is available via the Watch ESPN app and WatchESPN.com.
The MSU Sports Network C Spire Tailgate Show goes live at 9 a.m. CT Neil Price, Matt Wyatt and Jay Perry will call the game on the network (check for affiliates here). Live audio is also available for FREE at HailState.com and via the TuneIn app.
Cowbells will be permitted at EverBank Field. The Dawg Walk will take place on Adams Street by Gate 4 of EverBank Field. Click here for a stadium diagram.
Social Media/Live Stats
Live updates from the game are available via MSU’s official social media channels: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (click the links). Fans can also follow behind-the-scenes content via SnapChat by searching for HailStateSnap. Live Stats are available here.
The forecast in Jacksonville calls for temperatures in the upper 50s and sunny skies at kickoff. Winds will be W at 9 mph.