New SEC football schedule offers chances

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

Dan Mullen likes the way Mississippi State’s 2012 schedule looks.
The SEC released next fall’s slate on Wednesday, and the Bulldogs’ ledger will be backloaded with some tough league games, including road trips to Alabama and LSU. That’s fine with Mullen, who’s in his third year as head coach.
“You like to get some games and get some guys experience, especially when you’ve got to play young players, they get some experience early on before you get into the meat of your conference schedule,” Mullen said.
There is an oddity in the schedule that has MSU playing at Kentucky for a second consecutive season.
Larry Templeton, a former MSU athletics director who helped the SEC put this schedule together, said sending the Bulldogs back to Lexington was done to “protect” their home game against Tennessee on Oct. 13 for television. Plus, the league had decided to send Texas Aamp&M to Starkville (Nov. 3), and MSU had to remain at four SEC home games.
MSU will not complete its home-and-home with South Carolina, which visited Starkville this year.
Only three of MSU’s first seven games are conference games.
“You’re not guaranteed anything, but I think the schedule sets up where we have a chance to build some momentum in the early part of the year,” MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said.
Late start
Ole Miss gets the latest start to conference play, playing all four non-conference games – including a home tilt versus Texas – before opening at Alabama on Sept. 29. Its annual game with East rival Vanderbilt, normally played in September, is set for Nov. 10 in Oxford.
“We have a major challenge in front of us, but one we are looking forward to,” new head coach Hugh Freeze said in a statement.
The Rebels have road games at Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and LSU. That’ll make for a tough debut for Freeze, but Pete Boone – who’s on his way out as Ole Miss AD – praised the SEC’s scheduling effort.
“It’s all fair, there’s no question about it,” Boone said. “And it was a good discussion process throughout the whole thing, and everybody was able to bring up concerns they had.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com

Mississippi State Schedule

Sept. 1: Jackson St.

Sept. 8: Auburn

Sept. 15: at Troy

Sept. 22: South Alabama

Oct. 6: at Kentucky

Oct. 13: Tennessee

Oct. 20: Middle Tennessee

Oct. 27: at Alabama

Nov. 3: Texas A&M

Nov. 10: at LSU

Nov. 17: Arkansas

Nov. 24: at Mississippi

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Ole Miss Schedule

Sept. 1: Central Arkansas

Sept. 8: UTEP

Sept. 15: Texas

Sept. 22: at Tulane

Sept. 29: at Alabama

Oct. 6: Texas A&M

Oct. 13: Auburn

Oct. 27: at Arkansas

Nov. 3: at Georgia

Nov. 10: Vanderbilt

Nov. 17: at LSU

Nov. 24: Mississippi State