Mississippi State football kicks off its Southeastern Conference season with a 3 p.m. CT kickoff against Kentucky Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.
The Bulldogs (2-1) are coming off a 31-24 loss to Kansas State, while Kentucky (2-1) is coming off of a 29-21 loss to No. 9 Florida. The Wildcats blew a 21-10 fourth-quarter lead last week.
Junior running back Kylin Hill is leading the the SEC in rushing with 431 yards rushing. He is also third in the FBS and second in the Power 5 in rushing and is averaging 143.7 yards rushing per game.
Senior quarterback Tommy Stevens has gotten off to a great start the past two weeks before leaving the game about halfway through due to injury. Freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader has been good in relief, but Stevens says he’s “feeling better,” so expect him to be back at quarterback to start the game.
Kentucky junior quarterback Sawyer Smith made his first start for the Wildcats last weekend and threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
Let’s get into the picks.
Collin Wilmes: Both teams are coming off tough losses and I expect this to be a fairly close game. I give the edge to the Bulldogs because they have one of the nation’s best running backs in Kylin Hill and the Wildcats will still be relying on a backup quarterback. Final score: Mississippi State wins 28-21.
Reece Monroe: The Kansas State game hurt a lot. The last 30 seconds of the game are going to be hard for me to forget, but one way to easily make me forget is to beat the team that derailed last season’s hopes. Kentucky blew a 21-10 lead against Florida in Lexington, Kentucky last week. This will be tougher than Kansas State, but the revenge factor and home-field advantage will give the Bulldogs an edge over the Wildcats. Final score: Mississippi State wins close 27-21.
Landon Young: I’m going to be optimistic. Kansas State is a much better team this year. We lost to a decent team, not a great team, but a decent one. Kentucky’s trenches looked good versus Florida, which isn’t great for MSU. I think the Bulldogs pull this one out in a tight fourth quarter game. Final score: Mississippi State wins 31-28.
Andrew Robert: While the Bulldogs are fresh off a bitter loss to Kansas State, look for them to take things up a notch against Kentucky. Starting off SEC play at home, Mississippi State should use the momentum in its favor to beat the Wildcats. Final score: Mississippi State wins 34 - 21.
Gil Maneclang: Head coach Joe Moorhead rights the ship with a solid win over Kentucky. Tommy Stevens comes back almost to 100% health and gets the passing game going. Kylin Hill exacts revenge from last year’s sub-par performance. The MSU defense steps up as well and Kentucky can’t wait for basketball season. Final score: Mississippi State wins 35-17.
William Mitchell: This will be our toughest test to date going against Kentucky’s stout defensive line. The Bulldogs will find a way to control the line of scrimmage and allow Kylin Hill to continue his streak of rushing for over 100 yards. Final score: Mississippi State wins 28-24.
You can watch the game on SEC Network.