The Bulldogs made a season-best 12 tackles for loss and matched their season-high with four sacks.
Willie Gay Jr. had a career-high 11 tackles (all solo) and also forced a fumble.
MSU had touchdown drives of 99, 80, 75 and 86 yards.
Defensive backs Cameron Dantzler and Brian Cole II chose not to play in the bowl game.
A fight between Gay and teammate Garrett Shrader cost the Bulldogs’ their starting quarterback.
Louisville scored 31 unanswered points.
The Bulldogs totaled only 12 yards and one first down in the third quarter.
Keys to Victory
(Reviewing the scouting report from our GameDay edition)
Hand it to Hill
State gave the ball to Kylin Hill on the first offensive play of the game only to watch the SEC’s leading rusher get injured on the play. Hill tried to give it a go several times but managed only three yards on seven carries and finished 42 yards shy of breaking the school’s single-season rushing record.
Gay forced a fumble on Louisville’s opening drive that Tim Washington was able to recover at the goal line. But the Bulldogs also coughed up the football twice – once by JaVonta Payton on a kickoff return and another one by Tommy Stevens that was returned 31-yards for a touchdown.
Stand behind Stevens
Stevens started at quarterback and was effective early. He finished 17 of 26 passing with 221 yards and two touchdowns and also led the team with 71 rushing yards and another score.
However, he made some awful reads in the read-option game and was also stripped from behind, which cost MSU seven points.
DE Kobe Jones tallied four tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
For the second straight year, the Bulldogs had a poor showing in a bowl game.