The game, originally scheduled for September 23, has been moved at the request of ESPN for national telecast in their exclusive Thursday timeslot. This also makes the MSU-USC game both the official beginning of the long Labor Day holiday weekend, as well as of the 2006 SEC season. South Carolina comes on to the MSU schedule this year, replacing Florida in the league's annual inter-Division rotation.
State fans are familiar with Thursday night activity at Scott Field, of course. From 1998-2003 the annual season-ending 'Egg Bowl' with Mississippi was played on Thanksgiving Thursdays, three times at Scott Field. State also hosted Kentucky in a 1999 Thursday night game, South Carolina in 2001, and Auburn in 2002.
By playing on August 31, the Bulldogs not only get a long holiday weekend-off; they also have an extra couple of days to prepare for the home game September 9 with Auburn.
The move was made possible with help from Alabama-Birmingham, which has agreed to move their home game with Mississippi State. The contest was originally set as both school's season-opener on September 2; now it moves to the September 23 date left open on State's slate by switching the South Carolina game. UAB was also able to secure an earlier date for their game at Oklahoma to create the opening. State and UAB will be playing the second game in a three-game deal; the first was in 2004 at Starkville, and the teams tentatively are to meet again in 2007 at Scott Field.
While these two games are now set, the rest of the 2006 slate remains tentative. If played as-is now, the Bulldogs would not get a real open date until November 11 and have to play ten-straight weekends. So MSU officials have been working to shuffle another non-conference home game if practical to give the Bulldogs some break. One possibility has been moving the October 14 game with Jacksonville State to November. That game currently is listed as MSU Homecoming weekend, and whether the ceremonial weekend would also be on November 11 or another game would fill the need is uncertain.
There is also discussion that the September 16 home game with Tulane could be switched, either to that November 11 date or to October 14 of JSU moves. Thus, the entire 2006 schedule remains a work-in-progress, with the updated tentative lineup looking like:
August 31 vs. South Carolina; September 9 vs. Auburn, September 16 vs. Tulane, September 23 @ Alabama-Birmingham, September 30 @ LSU, October 7 vs. West Virginia, October 14 vs. Jacksonville State, October 21 @ Georgia, October 28 vs. Kentucky, November 4 @ Alabama, November 18 vs. Arkansas, and November 25 @ Mississippi.