Making the Most of an Early Kickoff


Sep 21, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs mascot Bully rides on his dog house to lead the team out to the field before the game against the Troy Trojans at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

The #12 ranked Bulldogs’ game against the #6 ranked Aggies of Texas A&M became a much more highly anticipated affair after the Bulldogs pulled the upset over then #8 ranked LSU in Baton Rouge. The loud groan you heard on Monday morning following that win was Mississippi State fans bemoaning the fact that we were slapped with an 11:00 a.m. kickoff for one of the biggest games to ever be played on our home field. It’s not ideal to say the least, but it doesn’t have to be all bad.

There is a reason that the CBS Game of the Week always starts at 2:30. Most people would assume that you want your absolute best match-up of the day to be played in prime time. Once a year, CBS and the SEC would agree with you. CBS holds the right to broadcast one of their games at 7:00 in prime time. They have reserved that right for the LSU and Alabama game the last few years. Depending on how the rest of LSU’s season plays out will determine if they continue that trend this year. Every other week though they start it during the middle of the afternoon. And it is with good reason.

Think back to the night of September 20, and try to recall what was being talked about during the game besides what was happening on the field during the ESPN broadcast. If you don’t remember, it was Amari Cooper, Blake Sims, and Will Muschamp’s job status. Sure, the game being played was the primary topic of conversation, but those things were discussed at length during half time and mentioned several times throughout the broadcast. CBS and the SEC want that marquee game each week to be played in the middle of the afternoon for this very reason. It’s normally a game featuring two highly ranked opponents that will have an impact on the SEC and the national championship. The outcome is going to be discussed repeatedly throughout the day during the remaining games to be played. The 2:30 is also just late enough to make sure that people can get whatever they have to do on Saturdays out of the way in the morning and get their butts in the stands for the game. CBS gets highlights from their broadcast used repeatedly, and the SEC gets to be the talk of college football all day long.

An 11:00 game against two teams ranked as high as Texas A&M and Mississippi State is rare. This type of game almost always gets played later in the day. While Gameday might be in Oxford, there is actual debate over which game is the most important or what game is the best one being played. The LSU and Auburn game is also being discussed for this as well. What the 11:00 kickoff does is give Mississippi State an opportunity to be the talk of college football all day long, if they can secure a win against the Aggies.

Let’s just dream for a second and assume everything goes the way we want it to this Saturday in Starkville. Mississippi State beats the Aggies and Dak Prescott puts up big numbers in the win. Dak outplays Kenny Hill and the ground game keeps the Aggies off the field. So what happens afterwards? Most fans will turn their TVs to CBS to watch Ole Miss and Alabama. How much would you love as a Mississippi State fan if the Bulldogs victory was talked about repeatedly throughout the broadcast of one of the biggest games to ever be played in Oxford? The announcers would be talking about Heisman contenders since Amari Cooper is playing, and Dak Prescott would be praised as the fastest riser among the Heisman candidates. If Ole Miss loses, think how infuriated they will be to hear people singing the praise of the Bulldogs and Dan Mullen. It would be a dream come true for Mississippi State fans.

The flip side is that this could turn out to be a disaster if we lose. If Texas A&M comes in and we just can’t stop their offense, and they hang a huge number on our defense, we will still be talked about, but certainly not in the same manner. All the great things people have been saying about our team will vanish into thin air faster than you can say Hail State. And it will be talked about ALL DAY LONG.

Most of us probably haven’t thought about it that much, but the 11:00 kickoff has added a level importance to this game that would not have existed had it been played later in the day. If we win, we can be the toast of college football all day. If we lose and lose badly, we could be the laughingstock of the country. Things get real starting early Saturday morning.