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Dan Mullen thinks Oklahoma State season opener game brings added emphasis to training camp




Matt Stevens


HOOVER, Ala. - Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen joked with the over 300 media members in the main room he won't know if playing the opening game against Oklahoma State University is a good idea until the evening of August 31. 


So while he obviously doesn't know the result of the season opener on national television at Reliant Stadium, the Bulldogs fifth-year coach does believe the tone and intensity of preseason camp will be at a higher level.  


"I think it gets the attention of the players a lot more," Mullen said Wednesday at Southeastern Conference media day in Hoover, Ala. "I think the sense of urgency starting with a big-time game like we're going to have to start the year off with I think really draws that urgency right from day one that the clock is ticking to kickoff.  


You don't have the opportunity to make a mistake or to start slow. You have to come out and play a great game right from the opening kickoff of the season." 


For the first time since 2007, Mississippi State University will open up its college football season with a Bowl Championship series opponent. 


Normally, the opener for the Bulldogs has involved either a Football Championship Series opponent, a struggling University of Memphis opponent and Louisiana Tech University. 


After MSU finished the 2012 season with five losses in six games, the players have already know it's 44 days until the Bulldogs arrive at Reliant Stadium to face Oklahoma State. 


"There's already a countdown after the way we finished the season last year," MSU junior tight end Malcolm Johnson said Monday. "From the moment we walked off the field with that loss in Jacksonville (in the 2013 Gator Bowl, we knew that would be our next chance to show what we're capable of on a big stage." 


The Bulldogs will kickoff the 2013 campaign against Oklahoma State in the Texas Kickoff Classic at Reliant Stadium in Houston, and the game will be televised on nationally on ABC and ESPN2. ABC will carry the game throughout much of the country, with the game on ESPN2 in other areas, giving the contest a national reach. 


"I think that focus that they have when you enter camp, knowing what a big game it's going to be week one of the season really changes the demeanor of the team, not just in training camp, but over the summer as well," Mullen said. "One comforting factor for us, we're going to play in a big game early, having a fifth-year senior quarterback like Tyler Russell, knows what is expected in big games, what is expected as a leader when he steps out on the field is certainly going to help us.  


MSU is slated to get a slighter greater than $2 million payday as a part of opening the 2013 season at Reliant Stadium in Houston. 


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




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



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