Mississippi State has an unexpected open date on the 2016 football schedule following Tulane's decision to cancel their 2016 match up with the Bulldogs.
Football news: Tulane has canceled its game with Mississippi State in Starkville in 2016. Was the final game in a seven-game contract.— Bob Carskadon (@bobcarskadon) May 18, 2015
The news, first reported by Mississippi State's Bob Carskadon, means that the Bulldogs could find themselves playing seven road games in 2016.
While the thought of a potential season with seven road games is daunting enough, the fact that it would be coupled with Mississippi State's efforts to break in a new quarterback following the departure of Dak Prescott should make fans of the Maroon and White a bit uneasy.
While seven road games would be a bit out of the ordinary for a team such as Mississippi State, there may be ways around it. Here are some not-all-the-way-thought out scenarios:
One option that might be explored would be trading home games with Louisiana Tech in 2016 and 2017, sending Mississippi State to Ruston in 2017 and Louisiana Tech to Starkville in 2016. The Bulldogs currently have two out of conference games scheduled for 2017, with BYU and Louisiana Tech, and with both at home, a potential swap could allow the Bulldogs time to adjust accordingly with the rest of the 2017 out of conference schedule.
In what might be a more exciting option, should the Bulldogs look at having to travel to make up the contest against Tulane, Mississippi State might could look at picking up a foe for a big neutral site game to open the season. In order to do this, both Mississippi State and South Alabama would have to agree to move the date of their season opening match up against each other, but both teams currently hold open dates the following weekend. The biggest stumbling blocks in this scenario are finding a team with an opening, finding a place to play, and Mississippi State not starting SEC play until September 24.
Looking at in-state foes to come to Starkville does not appear to give an easy solution. Southern Mississippi could be an option, but with their non-conference schedule already filled in 2016, the Golden Eagles would have to look at paying a buyout, most likely to LSU or BYU as they are the two road games that year, in order to come to Starkville. However, with both teams having openings in 2017 and beyond, such a move could start a long-term deal where the two teams could play each other every season. Also, Southern Miss does not have a game scheduled for September 24, which would be an important piece of the puzzle. Of course, the Bulldogs could be able to pick up a home game against one of the smaller FCS schools in Mississippi. However, this is something that many SEC teams are not doing in 2016.
If the Bulldogs are going to face a Power Five conference foe, the ACC would make a probable place to look for an opponent. With the PAC-12, Big 10 and Big 12 all playing nine conference games, the teams are a bit limited in their out of conference scheduling. The major concern for an ACC team might be whether or not they want to face an SEC foe, and the Bulldogs may have reservations about facing a second Power Five-type school in addition to BYU.
No matter how one looks at it, Tulane's cancellation puts Mississippi State in a bit of a bind. It will be interesting to see how Scott Strcklin and company handle the situation.