October 12, 2012 11:30:31 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Game on.
The highly rumored game between the Mississippi State University and Oklahoma State University football programs to open the 2013 season at Reliant Stadium in Houston is official.
ESPN announced Thursday afternoon the creation of the Texas Kick Off Classic, an opening weekend college football game between the schools on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, 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."
ESPN personnel went through Lone Star Sports Entertainment and approached Stricklin months ago about the possibility of playing a season-opening neutral site game similar to the one held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"Our organization is committed to growing the game of football at all levels and doing great things for Houston," said Jamey Rootes, president of the Houston Texans and Lone Star Sports & Entertainment. "This game and this Labor Day series concept is another way for us to simultaneously do both. Along with our Board and ESPN, we've built the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas into one of the best-attended bowls in America, and hosting these two outstanding football programs at Reliant Stadium will serve as a tremendous bookend for the 2013 college football season in Houston."
MSU, which is ranked No. 19 in this week's Associated Press poll, last played in Houston on Oct. 9, 2009, at the University of Houston. It has never played a game in Reliant Stadium, which is home to the NFL's Houston Texans.
MSU and OSU have met four times. The last time was a 29-11 victory for MSU in Starkville on Sept. 18, 1999.
"We are excited to work with the Texans and Lone Star Sports and Entertainment to bring a Labor Day weekend football game to the city of Houston," said Pete Derzis, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Regional Television. "A game of this caliber serves as a great complement to our postseason college football bowl game played at Reliant Stadium."
In other scheduling news for the 2013 season, Stricklin used his Twitter account, @stricklinmsu, to announce MSU still would have seven home games next season, which means the previously scheduled date at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has been moved. Stricklin tweeted details about the Bulldogs' 2013 slate would be coming "in the next few weeks."
OSU last played a neutral-site game in the regular season in 1998, when it faced the University of Nebraska in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
OSU is 2-2 this season, with a loss at the University of Arizona and a a loss to the University of Texas at home. It is fifth in the country in passing offense at 359 pass yards per game.
OSU last regular-season meeting against a member of the Southeastern Conference came in the 2009 season opener when the ninth-ranked Cowboys defeated No. 13 Georgia 24-10.
OSU last played in Reliant Stadium in 2002 when it defeated the University of Southern Mississippi in the Houston Bowl.
"We're excited to open the season in Houston," OSU Director of Athletics Mike Holder said. "We have a growing number of Texans attending Oklahoma State and a large alumni base in the area. We will be playing a high-profile season opener in a great stadium. I think our fans will be eager for this matchup all summer."
MSU's athletic ticket office is accepting orders to fill its 10,500-seat allotment for the game. Prices range from $45 to $125. A detailed seating map will be available at HailState.com.
Tylertown's Holmes verbally commits to MSU
MSU picked up its 19th commitment of the 2013 recruiting class Thursday afternoon when Tylertown High School athlete Tyre'oune Holmes gave his verbal pledge.
Holmes, a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder, didn't need any time to contemplate the offer presented to him by MSU secondary coach Tony Hughes.
"Coach Hughes called me this morning and told me I had an offer," Holmes told The Dawg Walk, formerly Bulldawgjunction.com. "I jumped on it right away and they passed the phone around so I got to talk to all of them. Coach Mullen said they were very glad to have me and that they were excited to get me up there."
Holmes, who plays quarterback and cornerback, had only one other scholarship offer -- from Alcorn State University -- before MSU called.
"This was the offer that I was waiting on," Holmes said. "I love the atmosphere up there and all the fans. I love all of the coaches and all of the players. They have a family atmosphere and they make me feel like I am part of the family. I plan to be there (in attendance) for the Tennessee game on Saturday."
Holmes is in the physical mold of former Tylertown High athlete and current sophomore wide receiver/punt returner Jameon Lewis. He averages 102 rushing yards per game and has 16 touchdowns.