Mississippi State’s 2016 schedule is: Sept 3 South Alabama; Sept 10 South Carolina; Sept 17 @ LSU; Sept 24 @ UMass;
Oct 1 open; Oct 8 Auburn; Oct 15 @ Brigham Young; Oct 22 @ Kentucky; Oct 29 Samford;
Nov 5 Texas A&M; Nov 12 @ Alabama; Nov 19 Arkansas; Nov 26 @ Ole Miss
This SEC-wide announcement was originally set for early September. Then one SEC West member was notified by a non-conference opponent that the other team already scheduled another game for that date. This had to be taken care of by the third party, first.
The first-ever meeting of MSU and UMass will not play out on the home team’s campus. Instead the programs will visit the Bay area and play in Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium. Though a FBS level program, a win will count towards bowl eligibility for MSU.
UMass replaces Tulane, which abruptly bailed out of its contracted trip to Starkville in 2016. The AAC program grabbed at a three-game series with Oklahoma paying a reported $1 million, easily allowing Tulane to absorb the $350,000 penalty for breaking the contract with State.
Bulldog fans are paying the real penalty though as they lose a home game for a long road trip. The cancellation took place far too late for Mississippi State to replace with an available visitor. State did have a six-game home schedule in 2013 of course but that was due to a neutral site contest with Oklahoma State in Houston to kick off that season.
Athletic director Scott Stricklin said in June that after next year, seven-game home slates will be the norm again. UMass will come to Starkville in 2017 and 2020.
The Brigham Young game is half of a home-and-home set for the next two seasons. The Cougars, currently an independent program, will come to Starkville on Sept. 14 2017. This series meets the Southeastern Conference’s mandate for all league programs to begin in 2016 playing at least one member of another ‘Power 5’ conference. Though not in a league, BYU has received the same recognition as Notre Dame as a major independent.
The BYU series is the first of four State has arranged to meet the mandate, though the rest are with members of Power 5 leagues. 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.
State has most of the games settled for the rest of the ‘teens, which will include some road non-conference games not with P5 members. A trip to Louisiana Tech and home game with Stephen F. Austin are examples.
Under the SEC’s inter-Division rotation, Mississippi State replaces 2015 road opponent Missouri by hosting South Carolina in 2016. The rest of MSU’s future rotations are: 2017 at Georgia; 2018 Florida, 2019 at Tennessee; 2020 Missouri, 2021 at Vanderbilt; 2022 Georgia, 2023 at South Carolina; 2024 Tennessee, 2025 at Florida.