The first game week of the football season is finally here, and Middle Tennessee is anxiously awaiting Saturday's 7 p.m. kickoff against Vanderbilt inside Floyd Stadium.
The Blue Raiders held their first game week press conference of the season on Monday, and it was clear they're glad to have fall camp in the rearview mirror and real football just five days away.
"It's an exciting time for us," head coach Rick Stockstill said, "it's an exciting time for everybody in college football. Really looking forward to this week; this is a big week for us. We had a good week at camp and a good month of camp – things have gone well there from that standpoint."
Going into Saturday's matchup, MT is hoping to end a two-game losing skid against the in-state foe Commodores, the last of which came in a 47-24 fashion in Nashville last season.
Vandy leads the all-time series against Middle Tennessee 14-3 and has won the only two meetings in Murfreesboro, though the matchup has been rather even recently. Since 2001, the two teams have battled five times, with MT winning three and four of the games decided by less than 10 points, three of which were less than a touchdown.
This is the last time Vanderbilt will make the short drive from Nashville to Murfreesboro in the teams' current agreement. The Blue Raiders will travel to Vanderbilt Stadium in 2018 in the final season of the four-year deal.
"It's going to be a big game, but at the end of the day it's still football," junior safety Jovante Moffatt said. "We're going to be excited since it's a home game, so I think the atmosphere will be really fun, especially with friends and family here. So, I'm just excited for the experience."
Middle Tennessee will try to keep up its string of recent season-opener success, as well add to its 20-5 record in its last 25 home games. It's been victorious the last four season openers, and in the last 35 seasons has a 22-13 record on Week 1, including a 37-28 win at Vandy in 2001.
In comparison, Vanderbilt has dropped its last five season openers. That doesn't mean the Blue Raiders are coming into the game with any less focus, though. They're preparing for a tough test that they sometimes don't get in a season-opening matchup, as evidenced by last year's 55-0 drumming of Alabama A&M in Week 1.
"The last four years we've opened up with an FCS team," Stockstill said. "Not taking anything away from those guys, but there is a difference in the caliber of talent that you're going to be playing from those guys to an SEC team in Vanderbilt.
"The opponent doesn't dictate in how you prepare, but this is different. We understand that it is different. We understand the challenge. We understand the opponent that we're playing. You've got to be ready to go out of the blocks. You can't afford a slipup."
A win Saturday would be the 73rd for Stockstill as MT's head coach. It would also give the Blue Raiders their second straight win over a Southeastern Conference opponent after they ruined Missouri's homecoming last year, 51-45.
Redshirt junior quarterback Brent Stockstill and the rest of his teammates are urging the community to come out and show support as the 2017 Middle Tennessee season gets underway in Murfreesboro.
"We're hoping to get a huge turnout from our community," he said. "We've been going out this summer trying to generate excitement. I hope there is great weather, and hope everybody embraces this challenge and rallies behind us. It really is a huge game for us and the community, because it gives us the chance to set the tone for our season if things go our way."
Saturday's matchup is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. It can be seen on TV on CBS Sports Network or heard on the radio at 89.5, 97.5, 102.5, 94.9/95.1 FM, 1450 AM, 100.5/101.9 FM or on the TUNEIN app. It will also be on Sirius 118 and XM 203.