The Kentucky Wildcats hope to extract some revenge against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles after blowing a massive 35-10 lead in their season opener last year. Kickoff is set for 4:00 PM EST on Saturday, September 2nd at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Those wanting to watch the action can catch the game on the CBS Sports Network.
Taking a look at the opening week odds, the books had the Wildcats listed as early 12 point favorites. As we draw closer to kick-off, the line on Kentucky has moved to -10.5, as early bettors have been siding with Southern Miss to cover. The total for the contest is currently at 61 points.
Southern Miss vs Kentucky Vegas Game Preview & Betting Odds
Kentucky should have no problem moving the ball on the ground against Southern Miss, as they had a fantastic running game in 2016 that should be featured early and often in games again this year. After losing Boom Williams to the NFL, Benny Snell looks poised for a big year behind an improved offensive line. This Wildcats offense is certainly likely to have success in their opener, as the Golden Eagles defense gave up 300+rushing yards twice last season.
On the other side of the ball, the Kentucky defense looks fairly solid heading into 2017. Although struggling at times last season, they have 9 starters returning and look exceptionally strong at the linebacker position. The defensive line has an excellent pass rush, but they will definitely need to improve against the run – especially on critical third down plays that resulted in far too many conversions for opposing offenses last season.
The Southern Miss offense has some definite questions marks heading into their season opener. Replacing QB Nick Mullens looks to be easier said than done, as the Golden Eagles passing attack averaged almost 300 yards per game last season. Keon Howard and/or Kwandra Griggs should have plenty of help, however, as star receiver Allezae Staggers and workhorse RB Ito Smith are both expected to put up big numbers once again.
The Golden Eagles defense was a hard group to figure out last season. They looked average to well-above average for long stretches of the season, but also had a strange tendency to completely melt-down in a surprisingly large number of games – allowing 35+ points six times last season.
Free College Football Betting Selection: Kentucky -10.5
I fully expect the Wildcats to put on a show at home in their season opener. The “Revenge-Factor” is a very real variable to take into consideration, and multiple Kentucky players have spoken at length about wanting to avenge their shocking collapse against Southern Miss last year.
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The Golden Eagles simply have too many question marks on both sides of the ball for me to feel comfortable predicting another upset. I’m generally quite wary of unproven starters (especially at the quarterback position) debuting on the road in a tough environment. I think this is a situation where there is a lot of value to be found on the Kentucky side.
The Wildcats should be able to put up big offensive numbers at home and RB Benjamin Snell will likely build on his exceptional finish to 2016. After putting up 100+ yards in three games straight last season, I think he easily goes over that mark again in this game.
If the Kentucky defense can somewhat contain Ito Smith, which definitely won’t be an easy task, I don’t think the Golden Eagles can keep this game close. As long as the Wildcats play to their strengths and limit mistakes, they should have no problem winning by at least ten points. Like last years opener, I expect them to jump out to a big early lead once again. This experienced group won’t make the same mistake twice and should cruise to redemption in front of a raucous home crowd.