When Tulane decided to withdraw from its 2016 game against Mississippi State in Starkville, everyone knew the Bulldogs may have to get creative to keep six home games to fill the void created by the Green Wave. Tuesday night, Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin announced he had done just that by tweeting out a new 2016 schedule which listed Samford as a home for for that season.
Current 2016 @HailStateFB opponents Home (6): Ark, Aub, A&M, S. Car., S. Ala., Samford Away (5): Ala, LSU, OM, UK, BYU One more TBD— Scott Stricklin (@stricklinMSU) May 20, 2015
Astute fans immediately noticed that the Bulldogs' schedules trip to Ruston was no longer on the schedule, and Stricklin tweeted that the match up had been pushed back to 2017.
Now all attention will focus on what Mississippi State can accomplish in terms of the twelfth team for the schedule. Stricklin already tipped his hand that the quality of the opponent could be more important than the location of the contest.
Non P5 on road MT @mjaylondon: if it comes down to playing a non P5 on the road or playing a 2nd FCS game at Scott Field, which do u choose?— Scott Stricklin (@stricklinMSU) May 20, 2015
To that, one can only say well done. A seventh home game is not worth playing a second FCS school in 2016. While the options may seem limited, there are quite a few teams that still need opponents, and with most of September now open for the Bulldogs, this could lead to a one-off situation or a new home and home situation.
Among the foes looking for games still in 2016, Middle Tennessee State seem to be a not as tough foe that could be easier to schedule in Starkville as a two for one deal, but the issue might be that the Blue Raiders already have two road games scheduled in out of conference play. Among tougher foes, North Carolina, Texas Tech, and Miami all still need to schedule more out of conference games. However, Texas Tech already has a power five matchup on the road, so a game against the Red Raiders may have to be in Lubbock. North Carolina plays Georgia in a neutral site game and travels to Illinois, so again this game would take place on the road. Miami has one spot left for an out of conference game, but the Hurricanes already have a matchup at Notre Dame, making it less likely the Hurricanes would come to Starkville in 2016. Sticklin has admitted that finding a Power Five school, or any school really, to come to Starkville in 2016 will be a tall order.
Ideally, would like a seventh @HailStateFB home game in ‘16, but options limited at this point. Don’t anticipate adding another P5 team.— Scott Stricklin (@stricklinMSU) May 20, 2015
That does not mean Bulldog fans cannot hope something works out for a seventh home game. Among smaller schools to watch for as a possible opponent, Marshall pops up on the radar. The Thundering Herd only have three out of conference games scheduled, and only one of them are on the road. With their weak schedule hurting them the last couple of years forcing them to travel to Rice for the 2013 CUSA championship and get hammered constantly in the College Football Playoff Rankings last year, Marshall might be willing to travel down to Starkville next season.
At the end of the day, the options for a seventh home game will be quite limited for Scott Stricklin and company. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the coming days.