Mississippi State and Brigham Young formalized Friday that they will play a home-and-home set for the 2016 and ’17 seasons. The matchup, first discussed here last summer, was agreed to by the universities over the fall. It only needed formal and final agreement by the Southeastern Conference to count such a series against the ‘power 5 mandate’ policy which goes into place for the 2017 season.
That mandate, intended to raise the SEC’s overall schedule strength and thus status within the new College Football Playoff system, requires conference clubs play at least one opponent from the other four ‘power 5’ leagues. Brigham Young is not a member of any such conference, so a waiver was required for Mississippi State to count this matchup against the mandate.
The SEC has also granted waivers to games with Army and Notre Dame as counting towards the mandate. Notre Dame is a ACC member in all sports but the one which matters, while Army is fully independent.
The series sends Mississippi State to Provo on October 15, 2016. Brigham Young returns the game with a trip to Starkville on October 14, 2017.
This home-and-home is the second such between the programs. Back in 2000 the Bulldogs visited BYU for a Thursday night game, and came home 44-28 winners. A year later the game was played in Starkville, but moved from its initial date after the events of September 11, 2001.
The game was hastily re-scheduled for December 1 and #10-ranked BYU came out a 41-38 winner in a contest still discussed by those on the scene for absurd officiating by the WAC crew. One holding call was assessed all evening, and that flag flew only when the Cougar blocker pulled nose guard Ron Fields over on top of himself.
Not only does this renewed matchup meet MSU’s need to meet the SEC mandate; it serves Brigham Young’s own aggressive scheduling plans. As an independent the Cougars are working for as strong an annual schedule strength as possible to crack the Playoff picture.
Over last spring and summer, Mississippi State officials contacted every other member of the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big XII, and Pac 12 about potential series. In the end Brigham Young was the best opportunity to meet 2016’s deadline. But, Bulldog teams will be seeing fellow members of the ‘P5’ in years to come, with three home-and-home series now booked from 2018-2023.
The cycle begins with Kansas State from the Big XII. Mississippi State goes to Manhattan on September 8, 2018, and the Wildcats come to campus September 14, 2019. In 2020-21 it will be a set with North Carolina State. The Bulldogs will go to Raleigh first, on September 12; then host the Wolfpack on September 11, 2021. And in 2022 Mississippi State goes to Arizona September 20, with a return trip by the Wildcats September 9, 2023.
The only new face on the future schedule list is Arizona. State played Kansas State in 1974 and ’77 winning both, though the latter win had to be forfeited. There have been five games with North Carolina State, including two bowl meetings. MSU won in the 1963 Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia; then the Wolfpack evened the count in the 1995 Peach Bowl.
Meanwhile, season ticket sales for the 2015 campaign continue. The slate is Sept 5 @Southern Mississippi; Sept 12 LSU; Sept 19 Northwestern State; Sept 26 @Auburn; Oct 3 @Texas A&M; Oct 10 Troy; Oct 17 Louisiana Tech (HC); Oct 24 Kentucky; Nov 5 @Missouri; Nov 14 Alabama; Nov 21 @Arkansas; Nov 28 Ole Miss.
This fall is the second of the SEC’s latest conference game rotation, settled in spring 2014 and running through 2025. For Mississippi State, it means 2014 visitor Vanderbilt is replaced in 2015 by the trip to Missouri. The rest of this rotation runs: 2016 South Carolina, 2017 at Georgia; 2018 Florida, 2019 at Tennessee; 2020 Missouri, 2021 at Vanderbilt; 2022 Georgia, 2023 at South Carolina; 2024 Tennessee, 2025 at Florida.