Bulldog-Cowboy Opener Finalized For 2013

Mississippi State and Oklahoma State ended two months of speculation today by confirming the programs will participate in the Texas Kick Off Classic next season. The SEC Bulldogs and Big XII Cowboys will meet on August 31 in Houston's Reliant Stadium on opening weekend of the 2013 college football schedule.

This new event is organized through the joint efforts of ESPN, Lone Star Sports and Entertainment and the NFL's Houston Texans. It follows the lead of other opening-weekend matchups involving Southeastern Conference teams playing in Atlanta and Dallas against non-conference opponents.

"This is a great opportunity for our teams to open the 2013 season in a NFL stadium," Bulldog athletic director Scott Stricklin said in an official release. "It provides our fans a unique destination for the season opener. We have a great fan base in Texas as well, who will be excited to see the Bulldogs play in their home state."

Mississippi State had been booked to begin the '13 schedule on Scott Field next August 31 against Mississippi Valley State. Now the Bulldogs go far from home for their first game. State opened the 2011 season at Memphis. Before that it was in 2002 when the Bulldogs last kicked off on the road, at Oregon. There were frequent openers in Jackson for many years though it was essentially the ‘other' home field in that era. So the last time a MSU team began a season at a ‘neutral' site was way back in in 1952 when the Bulldogs met Tennessee in Memphis.

And other than SEC opponents, 2003 (Oregon) was the last time Mississippi State began a schedule with a BCS-conference competitor. The rest of the 2013 schedule awaits finalizing of the SEC's new rotation, after a one-year compromise here in 2012 to accommodate early addition of Texas A&M and Missouri. The SEC, in cooperation with network partners, is making members available for these Labor Day weekend matchups against other BCS conferences. This year, it was Alabama meeting and beating Michigan in Cowboys Stadium; while Auburn lost to Clemson in the Georgia Dome.

The original 2013 non-confernce schedule announced in 2009 showed other games with UAB in Birmingham; Troy and Bowling Green on campus.

Reliant Stadium also hosts the Meineke Care Car Bowl of Texas, which matches teams from the Big XII and Big Ten.

"Hosting these two outstanding programs will serve as a tremendous bookend for the 2013 college football season in Houston," said Texans and LSS&E president Jamey Rootes in the official statement.

The Bulldogs and Cowboys have met four times, including a home-and-home set in 1998-99. The host team won each meeting with the Bulldogs coming out on top 29-11 in '99 as part of their eight-game win streak that season. Coach Dan Mullen's current club is 5-0 and ranked #19 going into Saturday night's 8:00 showdown with Tennessee at Scott Field.

Mississippi State will accept orders starting today for the Kick Off Classic, with an allotment of 10,500 tickets. Stadium officials report 9,700 of those are sideline seats. Prices are from $125 to $45 for the various locations. Orders can be placed at HailState.com/tickets, or by calling 888-GO-DAWGS.

Gene's Page Top Stories