STARKVILLE –Mississippi State’s football schedule for next season is now complete.
After a six-month search to find a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, MSU officials announced Friday afternoon a one-game contract to play Middle Tennessee State University at Davis Wade Stadium on Oct. 20.
The Bulldogs program is paying $930,000, the highest payout in school history, for what will mark the fifth meeting between the two programs with MSU winning the previous four contests.
MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin confirmed the news on his Twitter account Friday by announcing the 2012 slate.
“2012 @mstateFB non-conference schedule is complete,” Stricklin tweeted. “9/1 vs Jackson State, 9/15 at Troy, 9/22 vs South Alabama & 10/20 vs Middle Tenn.”
Middle Tennessee finished this past season with a 2-10 record, which was its worst mark since moving to FBS competition in 1999.
“With the uncertainty of NCAA legislation surrounding the cost of attendance and wanting to move forward with some on-campus projects, we felt a guarantee game in 2012 was necessary,” Middle Tennessee Director of Athletics Chris Massaro said.
The most recent match-up between the two programs was in 2009 when the Bulldogs became the first SEC program to play in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and MSU won the game 27-6. In that contest, Anthony Dixon became the all-time leading rusher in school history.
This open date in October became an issue last June when Louisiana Tech paid the MSU athletic department $300,000 to buy their way out of the scheduled game in Starkville.
Louisiana Tech will still play MSU in a two-for-one series where MSU hosts the school from the Western Athletic Conference in 2015 and 2017. MSU will travel to Ruston, La., for a contest in 2016.
Louisiana Tech Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde claimed numerous reasons for the move starting with a conflict over the date of the 2012 game with the Southeastern Conference television partners.
However, it would be later reported on the same day that Louisiana Tech has signed to play a 2012 nonconference game at Virginia for a bigger guaranteed payday.
“No.1 was that Mississippi State asked us to move the game to a later date in 2012 due to a request from the SEC involving television scheduling not for this particular game,” Louisiana Tech Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde stated. “We could not fulfill this request so we asked to move the game to a later year and Mississippi State declined. At that point we elected not to play the game. This also allowed us to schedule a sixth home game in 2012.”
The MSU nonconference schedule is now locked in again and gives them seven home games next year. Stricklin has said in the past he will continue to have the same philosophy of scheduling that best allows MSU to compete in a postseason game every winter.
The Bulldogs will open the 2012 season at home against in-state FCS foe Jackson State on Sept. 1 and will host South Alabama for the first time on Sept. 22. The lone road game will be at Troy on Sept. 15 and the Trojans will return the visit in 2013 and 2015. The SEC is expected to announce its 2012 league schedule soon.
“My hope is we play a really good high-profile nonconference opponent every December or January,” Stricklin said in May 2010. “I want to schedule in a way that allows us the opportunity to do that.”