Thompson, McLaurin lead Bulldogs past Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl

Thompson, McLaurin lead Bulldogs past Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl

Thompson, McLaurin lead Bulldogs past Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl

In the first half of the TaxSlayer Bowl against Mississippi State, the 2016 Heisman Trophy victor threw for 107 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Fitzgerald's replacement, true freshman Keytaon Thompson, stepped right into the role of carrying the offensive responsibility for the Bulldogs, rushing for 147 yards and three touchdowns while adding 127 yards and a score on 11-for-20 passing.

Louisville's defense did a good job of bailing out the Cardinals after Jackson's four interceptions, allowing just 10 points off turnovers and coming up with stops to get the ball back in the hands of the offense.

The Bulldogs (8-4), led by interim coach Greg Knox, takes on Louisville (8-4) and stud quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson later raced 75-yards to set up a Cardinals' touchdown to take a 21-17 lead into the locker room.

With his team trailing 27-24, Thompson totaled 65 yards on the game-winning drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:39 remaining - his third rushing touchdown of the day. But his desperation heave was batted away in the end zone.

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It likely was Lamar Jackson's farewell performance.

Louisville answered with a 13-play, 61-yard drive that stalled in the red zone. Jackson has yet to declare for the National Football League draft, but most outsiders believe the dynamic junior will turn pro.

Louisville is entering the TaxSlayer Bowl down two defensive standouts, as cornerback Jaire Alexander and defensive lineman James Hearns have elected to skip the bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft. Only three players in FBS history have accumulated 50 touchdown passes and 50 rushing touchdowns in their career: Jackson, Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick.

No. 24 MSU (8-4) will meet Louisville (8-4) in the TaxSlayer Bowl 11 a.m. Saturday (ESPN) at EverBank Field, doing so just two days after the Alamo Bowl featured 76 combined points and is far from alone in shootout status. "Scheme-wise, it's kind of up in the air because they are under two different playcallers", Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. "I still have much love for Coach Mullen and his family".

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