October 14, 2012 1:23:04 AM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State University senior offensive guard Tobias Smith got the start Saturday against the University of Tennessee.
Smith was forced out of the game for two quarters and gave way to redshirt freshman Justin Malone permanently after suffering an undisclosed injury in the first half.
"(The injury to his right leg) was OK, but I just didn't want to be out there hindering the offense," Smith said after the game. "(Backup Justin Malone), being a really good player, allowed me time to get on my feet."
Smith is still battling complications from his surgically repaired knee, and MSU head coach Dan Mullen seemed more confident throughout the week the Columbus native would be ready for a majority of playing time against the Volunteers in such a premier matchup. Smith was able to go out for MSU's first three possessions that resulted in a field goal, touchdown run by redshirt freshman Josh Robinson and a 13-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Dak Prescott.
However, Smith was seen walking off the field on his own power while being monitored by the MSU training staff after a run play where he was underneath two Tennessee defensive players. Smith was able to rejoin the action at the beginning of the fourth quarter. He was part of MSU's game-clinching touchdown drive in the final seconds of the contest.
"We really had a coming out party against a quality opponent," Smith said. "As an offense we gelled and made the plays when we needed them the most."
Malone, who has been substituted for Smith during periods of the first two contests of the 2012 season, made an appearance in his sixth straight game when he substituted in at right guard during the fourth possession for Smith with the rest of the starting MSU line staying intact.
MSU to get $2 million payday for Texas Kick Off Classic game vs. Oklahoma State
MSU is slated to get greater than a $2 million payday to play Oklahoma State University to open the 2013 season at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
ESPN announced Thursday afternoon the creation of the Texas Kick Off Classic, an opening weekend college football game between the two schools at the home of the Houston Texans of the National Football League, with the contest to be played Aug. 31, 2013.
"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."
While Stricklin wasn't completely sure at the exact dollar amount, the leader of the MSU athletic was about to confirm to The Dispatch the amount is "slightly more than $2 million."
As a part of that dollar figure, MSU is responsible for a ticket allotment of 10,500 and the Bulldogs' ticket office has already begun to sell tickets for this contest online.
Stricklin was approached months ago by ESPN personnel, through Lone Star Sports Entertainment, about the possibility of playing a season-opening neutral-site game similar to one annually held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The two schools (MSU and OSU) have met four times but not since a 29-11 victory for the Bulldogs in Starkville on Sept. 18, 1999.
Stricklin used his Twitter account, @stricklinmsu, to announce Thursday MSU would still have seven home games next season. This news obviously means the previously scheduled road date at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has been moved. The leader of the MSU athletic department tweeted details of the Bulldogs 2013 slate would be coming "in the next few weeks."
2. Harris, Heritage Academy will count on seniors to lead way HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Howland likes MSU's non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Central Academy hopes to contend for state title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Walters column: Prep football season coming closer LOCAL COLUMNS