The defensive squad is now ranked in the Top 15 nationally in three categories, including total defense (10th - 302.0), pass defense (13th - 175.0) and opponent third-down conversion (12th -.312).
Thompson and Jackson provided numerous highlights - and some lowlights. Jackson later raced 75-yards to set up a Cardinals' touchdown to take a 21-17 lead into the locker room.
If he is leaving, he went out setting records. Jackson even had a chance to win the game in the final minute, but Mississippi State's front seven, which had dominated most of the game, ended up winning the game on the field.More news: 'MAKE AMERICA GAY AGAIN' - Rainbow flag hung near Mike Pence's vacation home
Jackson ran 24 times for 158 yards and a touchdown, breaking the TaxSlayer Bowl record for most rushing yards by a quarterback.
Jackson became just the third player in FBS history - after Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow - to post 50 rushing touchdowns in addition to 50 passing touchdowns. Louisville answered with a nine-play, 51-yard touchdown drive, which was punctuated by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Charles Standberry.
Thompson's big day included 147 yards rushing and 11-of-20 passing for 127 yards. He is the first true freshman quarterback to start a bowl game for the Bulldogs since Wesley Carroll in the 2007 Liberty Bowl. Louisville lost to LSU 29-9 in last year's Citrus Bowl in Orlando.More news: Trump 'disappointed' in China over NKorea sanctions
Although some Mississippi State fans are still bitter about former head coach Dan Mullen's departure, there's no denying he had made the Bulldogs relevant again, leaving behind a wealth of talent for new head coach Joe Moorhead.
Louisville: Jackson needed more help - from his running backs, his receivers and his defense.
It likely was Lamar Jackson's farewell performance. But freshman Jawon Pass has completed 23 of 33 passes for 238 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions this season. He also had a flip pass to Jaylen Smith for a score. The Bulldogs open next season against Stephen F. Austin on September 1.More news: Longtime Atlanta news anchor dies after suffering massive stroke