Since 1996, CBS has been the broadcaster with the weekly first choice of SEC games. The game it picks, usually at 3:30 p.m. ET, is thus considered one of college football's biggest games each weekend.
On October 25, that game will feature Mississippi State and Kentucky. Those teams are currently a combined 11-1, and the worst record they could possibly take into Week 9 would be 11-2, if UK loses at LSU. MSU ranks No. 1 in both major polls. And the Bulldogs were just on last week, as No. 3 hosting No. 2 Auburn.
But that's still amazing.
Those teams have combined for one all-time SEC Championship appearance, 1998's MSU team, which finished the year unranked. Along with Vanderbilt, they are two of the three most challenged programs in the country's toughest conference.
And now their annual cross-division rivalry, which was almost certainly last in that particular selection order, gets a totally deserved center stage. Let's see how long it's been for each, according to Wikipedia:
- No. 1 Mississippi State (SAY IT AGAIN, FOR POSTERITY: NUMBER ONE MISSISSIPPI STATE) made the game last year, but that was as 4-4 fodder for Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel in College Station and partially due to CBS spending one of its periodic doubleheaders on the LSU-Alabama night game. MSU was 5-5 when it went to No. 6 Arkansas in 2011.
- Florida has made 87 appearances on the network, compared to the combined 21 for MSU and UK.
- Kentucky hasn't played in the game since 2008, when it was 4-0 and went to No. 2 Alabama. It hasn't hosted since 2007, at 5-1 and welcoming No. 1 LSU. You might remember that triple-overtime game.
- MSU and UK have appeared a few other times over the last couple decades, but very rarely as anything more than the accompaniment to a highly ranked opponent.
- The last time UK appeared while being ranked in the AP Top 25 was in 1998, when No. 25 Kentucky went to No. 8 Florida to lose by 16. Before 2014, the last for MSU was in 2001, when the No. 21 Bulldogs lost, 52-0, at No. 2 Florida.
- And the last time either was on CBS as the higher-ranked team was in 1999, when the No. 8 Bulldogs went to No. 11 Alabama and lost.
And what happens if Kentucky beats LSU on Saturday? College GameDay in Lexington for the second time ever (and since 2007), maybe? Let us appreciate the times in which we live.