TaxSlayer Bowl might be Lamar Jackson's final college game
By The Associated Press
Dec. 29, 2017
TaxSlayer Bowl: Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Louisville (8-4), Saturday, Noon Eastern (ESPN)
Line: Louisville by 6 ½.
Series Record: Tied 2-2.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Mississippi State's senior class is going for its 34th victory, which would tie the school record set in 1942 and matched in 2015. The Bulldogs also want to send interim coach Greg Knox out with a win. Louisville is trying to end the season with a four-game winning streak and potentially send 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to the NFL on a high note. The junior hasn't said publicly whether he will forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.
Mississippi State's defense vs. Jackson. Louisville's all-everything quarterback leads the nation in total offense with 4,932 yards, including 3,489 passing and 1,443 rushing. He was voted Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year for the second straight season and finished third in Heisman voting. The Bulldogs rank in the top-25 nationally in six defensive categories.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mississippi State: Freshman QB Keytaon Thompson will make his first career start in place of injured Nick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald broke his right ankle in the first quarter of the Egg Bowl against rival Mississippi last month.
Louisville: WR Jaylen Smith has 53 receptions for 873 yards and six touchdowns in nine games. Smith missed three games with a left wrist injury. He has four touchdowns during the team's three-game winning streak.
FACTS & FIGURES
Mississippi State won all four meetings against Louisville, but two of those were vacated because of NCAA infractions. ... Bulldogs playing in bowl game for eighth consecutive season. ... Mississippi State's famed cowbells will be permitted at EverBank Field. ... Of the Bulldogs' four losses, three came against teams — Georgia, Alabama and Auburn — that finished in the top seven in the College Football Playoff rankings. The other one came after Fitzgerald broke his ankle. ... Cardinals are 3-2 in bowl games against teams from the Southeastern Conference. ... Jackson needs 183 yards of offense to break his single-season school record (5,114) set in 2016. ... Cardinals have scored at least 30 points in six consecutive games. ... Cardinals need 150 yards rushing to break the school record (3,148) set last season.