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If Louisville football’s regular season hadn’t proven the program’s transformation in Scott Satterfield’s first year as the Cardinals’ head coach, the Music City Bowl did.

After falling behind two touchdowns in the first half, Louisville scored 31 unanswered points to defeated Mississippi State 38-28 in the bowl game in Nashville Dec. 30. The postseason victory is Louisville’s first bowl win since 2015.

Louisville finished with 510 yards of offense, scoring 31 straight points for its eighth win of the year.

Better Defense

The Cardinals defense struggled plenty this season, but looked as sharp as it has been in the final game of the year. Mississippi State finished with 366 yards of offense, but lost two fumbles and Louisville had 10 tackles for a loss.

Khane Pass had a 31-yard touchdown on a scoop-and-score after Gary McCrae forced a fumble in the third quarter to give Louisville a 24-14 lead.

Mississippi State had just 12 yards of offense in the third quarter.

Kylin Hill was the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher heading into the bowl game. Hampered with an injury, Hill didn’t do much against Louisville. The running back had seven carries for three yards.


Micale Cunningham put together another efficient performance, completing 16 of 23 throws for 279 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 81 yards on 16 carries.

Talented Tutu

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Tutu Atwell showed why he is one of the most dynamic players in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season in the final game of the year. The 5-foot-9 receiver had nine catches for 147 yards.

Atwell finishes the year with 70 receptions for 1,276 yards and 12 touchdowns. The sophomore surpassed Harry Douglas as the program’s single-season record holder for receiving yards.

He wasn’t just a receiver against Mississippi State. Atwell caught a lateral from Cunningham, then throwing to an open Marshon Ford down the sideline for a score.

Hawkins Keeps Running

Javian Hawkins reached the 100-yard mark for the eighth time this season. He rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown. The redshirt freshman had a gritty performance against Mississippi State, averaging 4.6 yards a carry, but scoring on his final run of the game to give Louisville a 38-21 advantage.


Dorian Etheridge was disqualified early in the second quarter on a Mississippi State touchdown drive. After Bulldog quarterback Tommy Stevens gained 12 yards on third-and-10, Etheridge made a tackle a tackle on a run by Nick Gibson.

The Louisville linebacker was flagged for a personal foul after kicking a Mississippi State player. Etheridge had an opponent on top of one of his legs.

What It Means

After going 2-10 and winless in the ACC last season, Louisville completes quite a turnaround in just one season with a victory in the Music City Bowl. The Cardinals finish the season with eight wins and second in the Atlantic Division of the ACC after being picked last in a preseason media poll.

Up Next

Louisville heads into the offseason with some momentum after Satterfield’s first year as the program’s head coach. The Cardinals will begin spring practices in late February.