JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Festivities for the 73rd annual TaxSlayer Bowl kicked off Friday at The Jacksonville Landing downtown.
Excitement grew for fans of Louisville and No. 23 Mississippi State at the teams' pep rallies on the eve of the game. Louisville’s pep rally began at 5 p.m., followed by Mississippi State’s at 6:30 p.m.
Hundreds of fans supporting their teams crowded the courtyard of the Landing Friday evening. The bands played and people cheered as they got pumped up for the TaxSlayer Bowl.
“This is the first bowl game that I’ve ever made, so I’m really excited about being here and I’m looking forward to to win," Louisville fan Rick Larkins said.
But for some fans, this weekend wasn't their first time to Bold City. Bulldog fan Paul Kinsey said he attends every home game in Starkeville, but he's also looking forward to going to another bowl game in Jacksonville.
"Jacksonville’s always been great to us," Kinsey said. "This is our third time here. We went to the last two games when we played Michigan and Northwestern. We had a great time. People were super, super friendly.”
Though several fans of both teams were surprised by the chilly weather in Florida, they were still excited for Saturday's game.
"We're hoping for sunshine and smiling faces -- and a W," said Louisville fan Steve Johnson.
But with a large group of fans cheering for different teams, tensions could get high. According to Landing officials, more officers will be added to keep fans safe because of the size of the event.
"The Landing's great," said Louisville Fan Rita Schuler. "Right here on the river, the band, the atmosphere -- it's been fun."
Wearing their team colors to Friday's pep rallies, fans from both sides seemed confident about who's going to win.
"I think we’re going to slaughter them, so it's 100 percent," Cardinal fan Jon Nugent said.
"We’re having a good time with friends and family and stuff like that, but we’re looking forward to the Bulldogs beating the Cardinals," Kinsey said.
The TaxSlayer Bowl will kickoff at noon at EverBank Field.