#23 Mississippi State defeats Louisville 31-27 in the TaxSlayer Bowl

Lawrence Cooper
December 31, 2017

Jackson later raced 75-yards to set up a Cardinals' touchdown to take a 21-17 lead into the locker room.

Thompson's big day included 147 yards rushing and 11-of-20 passing for 127 yards. The Cardinals took the lead on a 31-yard field goal by Creque.

For new Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead, this game is incredibly encouraging for the future of the Bulldogs program.

The defense picked off 2016 Heisman Trophy victor Lamar Jackson four times. "I think that's the one thing that carries over towards the other players ... they see a young man that won the Heisman Trophy, is the best player in the United States who comes to practice and works has hard as you possibly can".

Defensively, MSU will face one of its toughest challenges in Heisman Trophy victor 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.

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Mississippi State landed not one, but two All-SEC first-team selections on defense in Sweat and Simmons (above, right). It may be simplistic to boil this game down to this matchup, but whichever team is able to gain an edge on the ground will more than likely be in good position to come out victorious.

Simmons boasts 11 tackles for a loss with 4.5 sacks.

While both are a handful individually, together they're ferocious.

Jackson, of course, has been the most dynamic dual-threat quarterback over the last two seasons. Quarterback Keytaon Thompson should be adequately prepared to run the offense, and with Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons manning the defense, Louisville will face a formidable opponent.

Jackson would likely be the favorite to win the award once again should he return for his senior season, but an National Football League career seems much more enticing at this point. In what's likely to be his last collegiate game, Jackson should again impress with a dazzling performance. Williams is now just 47 yards shy of tying Anthony Dixon for 10th place in MSU single-season history. Jackson even had a chance to win the game in the final minute, but Mississippi State's front seven, which had dominated most of the game, ended up winning the game on the field. A sports reporter for The Meridian Star, Hayes also has been an invited guest on "The Paul Finebaum Show".

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