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ESPN announces Texas Kickoff Classic

Posted Oct 11, 2012

ESPN announced the creation of the Texas Kickoff Classic – an opening weekend college football game between Oklahoma State and Mississippi State at Reliant Stadium.

ESPN Announces Oklahoma State-Mississippi State Football Game at Reliant Stadium in 2013
Houston Joins Atlanta and Dallas in Staging Labor Day Events

ESPN announced the creation of the Texas Kickoff Classic – an opening weekend college football game between Oklahoma State and Mississippi State at Reliant Stadium in Houston to be played Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. Tickets for the game will go on sale later this fall.

The game is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN, and will be managed in partnership with Lone Star Sports & Entertainment (LSSE), an event-management affiliate of the NFL’s Houston Texans.

LSSE also operates the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, which has averaged more than 63,000 fans over the last six years, and has brought other matchups such as the 2005 Big XII Championship Game, Rice vs. Texas in 2010 and annual rivalries like the Bayou Bucket (Rice vs. Houston) and Battle of the Piney Woods (Stephen F. Austin vs. Sam Houston) to Reliant Stadium.

“Our organization is committed to growing the game of football at all levels and doing great things for Houston. This game and this Labor Day series concept is another way for us to simultaneously do both," said Jamey Rootes, Houston Texans and Lone Star Sports & Entertainment President. “Along with our Board and ESPN, we’ve built the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas into one of the best-attended bowls in America, and hosting these two outstanding football programs at Reliant Stadium will serve as a tremendous bookend for the 2013 college football season in Houston.”

Oklahoma State, winners of the 2012 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, will be playing in Houston for the first time since September 23, 2006 when the Cowboys played at the University of Houston. This will be OSU’s second game at Reliant Stadium, as the Cowboys won the 2002 Houston Bowl over Southern Mississippi.

“We’re excited to open the season in Houston,” said Mike Holder, OSU Director of Athletics. “We have a growing number of Texans attending Oklahoma State and a large alumni base in the area. We will be playing a high-profile season opener in a great stadium. I think our fans will be eager for this matchup all summer.”

Mississippi State, No. 20 in the current Associated Press poll, won the 2012 Music City Bowl to record consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1997-2000. The Bulldogs last played in Houston on October 9, 2009 at the University of Houston. MSU has never played in Reliant Stadium.

"This is a great opportunity for our team to open the 2013 season in an NFL stadium," said Scott Stricklin, Mississippi State Director of Athletics. "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."    

Oklahoma State and Mississippi State have met four times, most recently a 29-11 Bulldogs victory in Starkville, Miss., on September 18, 1999.

“We are excited to work with the Texans and Lone Star Sports and Entertainment to bring a Labor Day weekend football game to the city of Houston,” said Pete Derzis, Sr. Vice President and General Manager of ESPN Regional Television.  “A game of this caliber serves as a great complement to our postseason college football bowl game played at Reliant Stadium.”

Oklahoma State will serve as the home team in the 2013 game.

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