STARKVILLE, Miss. (WLBT) - The advertising campaign for the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Resort during this holiday season uses the tagline “the most unforgettable Christmas ever!”
The Mississippi State Bulldogs hoping to live that reality as they will stay at the Nashville hotel ahead of their December 30 matchup with Louisville in the Music City Bowl. A sprawling complex that covers over 2.1 million square feet with ice slides on one end and sleigh rides on the other, it’s easy to get lost in the Christmas fanfare. To combat that, MSU coach Joe Moorhead had staffers make sure that all of the players’ rooms would be on the same floor and close to the team meeting room.
“Our operations guys put together a very specific and detailed plan,” said Moorhead of the hotel itinerary. “The maps portion covers about three pages of that.
“It’s a neat place.”
After all, a bowl trip is meant to allow for some fun, but make no mistake, the Bulldogs are here on business, knowing that they need a win to finish a fairly turbulent 2019 season with a winning record.
Having begun install work for the Cardinals in Starkville this week before departing for Nashville on Christmas Day, Moorhead feels that this game will be won on the ground with both teams coming in ranked in the top 25 in rushing. That means it could be a fun farewell game for Nick Gibson and Kylin Hill. Mississippi State finished the season third in the SEC running the ball with Hill leading the conference with 1,347 yards this season.
The junior announced earlier this month of his intentions to enter the NFL Draft but never once considered sitting out the bowl game.
“Right now in my career, I’m 1-1 in bowl games,” said Hill. “Any loss doesn’t feel good, so I’d like to get the victory no matter what.”
Opposite Hill for Louisville will be Javian Hawkins who broke in early on as a freshman and finished with 1,420 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns.
Kick-off from Nissan Stadium in Nashville is set for 3 p.m. CT on Monday. The game will be televised on ESPN.