Mississippi State Football: 2013 Opener vs. Oklahoma State Is Huge for Program

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 11, 2012

Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen
Mississippi State Head Coach Dan MullenMark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE

On the heels of a ball-hawking defense and a back-loaded schedule, Mississippi State has surged to a 5-0 start and a No. 19 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll.

Whether that wave of momentum continues after this weekend's matchup vs. Tennessee, the program is going to be on the big stage when the 2013 season starts.

According to a release by Mississippi State, the Bulldogs will open the 2013 season in the inaugural Texas Kick Off Classic in Houston, a new neutral-site game to be played on Aug. 31, 2013. The Bulldogs will square off against Big 12 power Oklahoma State in the event, which was made possible by the Houston Texans, Lone Star Sports and Entertainment and ESPN.

"This is a great opportunity for our team to open the 2013 season in an NFL stadium," said Scott Stricklin, Mississippi State Director of Athletics. "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."

Good for Mississippi State.

Whether this season fizzles out down the stretch or turns into something, opening the season on a national stage in a major city against a quality opponent is huge for any program, particularly one like Mississippi State which plays in the toughest neighborhood in the country—the SEC West.

Win or lose, the game will bring a ton of attention to the program. It's a way to showcase the program, the coaching staff, the culture and build momentum on a national stage.

More importantly, it's great for recruiting.

High school kids, particularly high school kids in and around the Houston area, will hear a lot about this game during the offseason, which will get the coaching staff into some living rooms that may not have been previously open to them. 

If Mississippi State wants to be a power in the SEC West, it has to start acting like one. Scheduling the 2011 Big 12 champs in a recruiting hotbed like Houston in a game in an NFL stadium certainly is acting like a big time program.