Cards to face Mississippi State (not Vols) in Music City Bowl

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Louisville didn't get its first choice for a bowl trip when the assignments were announced Sunday afternoon.

U of L officials had expressed a preference for a warm weather bowl in Florida. Instead, the Cardinals will be playing in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.

But, hey, who's complaining? It certainly beats where the Cards were booked last year at this time, which was nowhere except home following a 2-10 season.

However, the bowl didn't come without some confusion. Less than 15 minutes after multiple sources reported that U of L (7-5) would play Tennessee, and the school was under the same impression, the Cards were surprised to learn that their opponent would actually be Mississippi State (6-6).

The mixup created some awkward moments at U of L coach Scott Satterfield's bowl press conference. As he was answering questions about Tennessee, U of L athletics director Vince Tyra tweeted the Cards' matchup with the Bulldogs. When Satterfield left the press conference, he still wasn't sure who the Cardinals were playing in the Dec. 30 game in Nissan Stadium (4 p.m. ET, ESPN).

"It doesn't matter if it's Tennessee or Mississippi State," Satterfield said. "We've got three weeks to prepare."

U of L might have gotten a break because the Vols are one of the hottest teams not in the College Football Playoffs. They've won five in a row and six of their last seven and will face Indiana (8-4) in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., which was one of Louisville's favored destinations.

U of L, which finished second in the ACC's Atlantic Division with a 5-3 record, has played in the Music City Bowl only one other time, in 2015, and it was a notable occasion as future Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson burst onto the national scene as a freshman quarterback in the first of his many outstanding performances over the next two seasons.

Jackson totaled 453 yards and four touchdowns as the Cards beat Texas A&M 27-21 and set a Music City Bowl record with 226 yards rushing. That was also their last bowl win.

UofL, which is 3-3 in bowl games since joining the ACC, lost to Mississippi State in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl, 31-27.

The Bulldogs will be playing in their 10th straight bowl and have gone 3-1 against ACC teams during that time, most recently beating NC State 51-28 in the 2015 Belk Bowl.

Mississippi State will provide another challenge for Louisville's hapless rushing defense, which was battered for 517 yards rushing in a 45-13 loss to Kentucky in its season finale. The Cards are 115th nationally in rushing defense, giving up 210.8 yards per game.

The Cards played in Nissan Stadium on Sept. 14, defeating Western Kentucky 38-21, and if Satterfield was disappointed in not going to a Florida bowl he hid it well, calling a return trip to Nashville "an ideal scenario."

"It was a good experience last time we went there, it's a really good venue," Satterfield said. "We got a big win. It's a great city, lot of entertainment, and it's close to us so a lot of our fans will be able to get down there. Should be a great atmosphere."

Louisville's players have had time off since the loss to UK on Nov. 30. They'll report back to campus Tuesday and start practice on Wednesday.

Satterfield spent last week on the road recruiting in preparation for this month's early signing period for the class of 2020 and will go back out Monday.

BONUS RISES--By virtue of Louisville going to a bowl designated as Tier One by the ACC, Satterfield's bonus for achieving bowl eligibility will rise from $100,000 to $150,000. He also earned a $50,000 bonus for being named ACC Coach of the Year.

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