Kentucky, Vanderbilt on CBS Sports Network: TV, live stream, watch online – CBSSports.com
Gameday is finally upon us. Saturday gives us our first full slate of college football games since January, and that means it’s time for wild predictions and plenty of hype. CBS Sports Network will be carrying a doubleheader on Saturday, chock full of SEC football to open the season.
Kentucky at Southern Mississippi
Date: Saturday, Sept. 2
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Location: Roberts Stadium — Hattiesburg, Mississippi
TV: CBS Sports Network [Channel finder]
Live stream: CBS Sports Network is available via OTT streaming service providers YouTube TV, fubo TV and Hulu. Additionally, a live CBS Sports Network stream is available through CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports App by authenticating with select providers. For more information, including a full programming schedule, go to CBSSportsNetwork.com.
Kentucky: Playing in the SEC leaves any team with an unreasonable amount of pressure. Kentucky lost their opening game to Southern Miss last season, but they have a chance for a grudge match on Saturday. After finishing tied for second in the SEC East last year with a 7-6 record, Kentucky is looking to make the jump to legitimate competitor. The SEC Championship Game is their goal this year (as much of a longshot as winning it may be), and Kentucky has the talent to reach that goal if Florida gets off to a slow start.
This year, Kentucky trots out one of the most talented groups of receivers they’ve had in recent seasons, in addition to a far tougher defensive line. Adrian Middleton and Naquez Pringle will be looking to make their marks, and they have the ability to toughen up the UK defensive line. Southern Miss gouged the UK defense on the ground in the opener last season, so they’ll be looking to make amends early this year.
Southern Mississippi: Southern Miss ended with a 7-6 record last year, netting them third in Conference USA’s western division. With a quarterback controversy hanging over Southern Miss this season after Nick Mullens’s departure, its season is a bit more in question. It’s impressive that Southern Miss got this hosting gig, but now they have to make it count against a Power 5 opponent.
Keon Howard and Kwandra Griggs are both expected to take snaps for Southern Miss. Howard struggled in limited snaps last year, throwing for less than a 50 percent completion percentage, and Griggs is yet to take a snap. However, none of that will matter if UK’s line plays like it did last year and running back Ito Smith does the same. Smith, a senior, is Southern Miss’ bell-cow back, and he should handle a significant workload for Southern Miss. A strong performance from him would go a long way towards easing their young quarterbacks’ nerves.
Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee
Date: Saturday, Sept. 2
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium — Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Vanderbilt: The Commodores finished 6-7 in 2016, good for fifth in the SEC East, and they’re still trying to find their footing. They took a big step last year, edging their way into a bowl game, but now they need to get better. Vanderbilt went 0-4 within their division last year, one of the worst P5 divisions in college football. The Commodores swept their nonconference games, as good teams should do, but struggled down the stretch, losing three of their last five games.
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt’s all-time rushing yards leader, is returning for another season, while quarterback Kyle Shurmur is also reprising his role. Vanderbilt will look to this backfield as leaders to try and contend in an SEC East that is fairly wide open, so long as some teams don’t heavily outperform expectations (which should go without saying). Vanderbilt’s experience may help them heading into the year, as they try to win some division games and get into the hunt.
Middle Tennessee: MTSU went 8-5, third in Conference USA East. They got a shot against Vanderbilt last year, where they lost by 23 points. Now, they’re playing at home with an opportunity to avenge that loss. Middle Tennessee is a steady team, and this might be one of their most difficult challenges coming right out of the gate.
MTSU has never defeated a P5 team to start their season, so this win would momentous for a myriad of reasons. They’re trying to emerge as a sports’ power in Tennessee, a state dominated by the Vols. They may not get there, but they can at least make their way into some conversation if they manage to beat another Tennessee team. And there’s always a special aura that surrounds P5 football when you’re on the outside looking in.