By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s current and past athletic directors have reached an agreement for their respective programs to play in football.
Scott Stricklin, the Bulldogs current athletic director, announced a home-and-home deal to play Arizona – where former MSU AD Greg Byrne now resides.
The Bulldogs will travel to Tucson on Sept. 10, 2022 and the Wildcats will make the return trip to Starkville on Sept. 9, 2023.
“We’re very excited to announce this series with a Pac-12 program the caliber of Arizona,” Stricklin said in a release. “It will bolster our non-conference schedule. We haven’t played in that part of the country since 2002, so it gives our fans a chance to see another part of the country while supporting the Bulldogs.”
The schools have never met on the gridiron but met on the baseball diamond this past season as State participated in the Hi Corbett Classic against Arizona and UC-Santa Barbara.
Mississippi State is 0-3 against teams currently in the Pac-12. The Bulldogs defeated Washington 27-18 in Seattle in 1977, a win that was later forfeited.
The Bulldogs last Pac-12 opponent was Oregon during the 2002-03 seasons. The Ducks won 36-13 in Eugene to open the 2002 campaign and also 42-34 in the 2003 season opener in Starkville.
MSU added two new commitments on Thursday as three-star prospects Maurice Smitherman and Nick Tiano both pledged their services to coach Dan Mullen.
Smitherman, from Minor High School in Adamsville, Ala., is rated the 13th best recruit in the state and No. 33 cornerback nationally by 247Sports.com.
Smitherman chose the Bulldogs over offers from Arkansas, Baylor, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Memphis, Miami, N.C. State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, Southern Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UAB, UCLA, Washington State, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
As a junior last season, the 5-foo-9, 178-pounder made 41 tackles (28 solo, 13 assists), nine tackles for loss, one interception and five pass deflections.
Offensively, he carried eight times for 89 yards and a touchdown and caught one pass for seven yards. Smitherman also added 214 return yards and a score for the 4-6 Tigers.
Tiano is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound quarterback from Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn.
He is rated the No. 38 prospect in Tennessee and the 42nd pro-style quarterback in the country.
Tiano picked the Mississippi State over offers from Miami and UT-Chattanooga. He threw for more than 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran for more than 300 yards and five scores leading the Raiders to a 7-5 record and into the quarterfinals of the Division II AA Playoffs.
State now has 15 commitments for the 2015 class, which ranks 11th nationally by 247Sports.com.