Lamar Jackson is one of the more polarizing figures in college football. Some believe that he’s a lock to be a star in the NFL. Others think he could ultimately only get drafted as a project and never get a chance to shine.
The one thing that we know is that the Louisville Cardinals quarterback only has one more chance to shine in his collegiate career. No man has more on the line in the bowl season than Jackson in the TaxSlayer Bowl against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Mississippi State Bowl History
Dan Mullen always got the most out of his Bulldogs in the bowl season. MSU went 5-2 under his tutelage, including winning last year’s St. Petersburg Bowl against Miami (OH) in a game that easily could have just been looked over by his squad.
However, Mullen isn’t walking through those doors in Starkville any longer after taking the job at Florida. Greg Knox will be the caretaker of the team in the TaxSlayer Bowl, a place where the ‘Dogs are 1-1 in the past.
Louisville Bowl History
Part of the reason why Jackson is loathed by so many is the way that he played in last season’s Citrus Bowl. LSU made him look like a chump. This is his chance at a revival.
The Cardinals are playing in a bowl game for the eighth consecutive season. The team is 4-3 in its last seven, alternating wins and losses over the course of the last four years.
UL played in the TaxSlayer Bowl once before when it was known as the Gator Bowl, losing to Virginia Tech in 2005.
Why Mississippi State Will Win the TaxSlayer Bowl
Mississippi State has its own version of Lamar Jackson in Nick Fitzgerald. That said, Fitzgerald is out with an ankle injury, giving way to freshman Keytaon Thompson.
Thompson played most of the Egg Bowl and didn’t exactly look polished as a passer. That said, he should be in line for a better game knowing that he is the man for the TaxSlayer Bowl. He rushed for 121 yards against Ole Miss and could have another huge game on the ground against Louisville.
Aeris Williams is a big, powerful back who quietly had a 1,000-yard season for Mississippi State. Keep an eye on Kylin Hill, too. He’s another freshman who had a big Egg Bowl, rushing for 82 yards on 13 carries.
Why Louisville Will Win the TaxSlayer Bowl
Jackson can’t possibly play any worse in the TaxSlayer Bowl than he did against the Bayou Bengals last year. When he’s on his game, he’s arguably the best player in the entire nation.
But let’s not take anything away from the Louisville defense. This isn’t a fantastic unit, but there is a slew of great players. Trumaine Washington led this team with four interceptions, and he’s a flashy performer who could change this game with one big play.
TaxSlayer Bowl Prediction
We totally understand why Louisville isn’t getting a lot of respect here. The Bulldogs have a good defense, and getting a few weeks to prepare for Jackson’s “one-look and run” could prove to be a relatively easy task.
However, Jackson is a special player, and we think he’s going to have something up his sleeve for this game. Let’s also not forget that MSU has a freshman quarterback and is going to rely heavily on a freshman running back.
With all of the question marks that are surrounding the Mississippi State football program at the moment, we don’t understand why there is so much hate for Louisville in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
TaxSlayer Bowl Pick: Louisville 41, Mississippi State 21
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