Report: Mississippi St., Oklahoma St. finalizing deal to open 2013 season in Houston

The SEC already takes part in two opening-week neutral-site non-conference extravaganzas, thanks to the Cowboys Classic in Dallas and the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta. But with Houston's Reliant Stadium -- like the other two sites -- available and angling for a place in the upcoming playoff rotation, why not make it three?

That appears to be exactly what Reliant Stadium, the SEC and their partners in the Big 12 have decided. ESPN reported Friday that stadium organizers are "finalizing a deal" that would bring Mississippi State and Oklahoma State to Houston to open the 2013 season against each other on Aug. 31.

The game is intended to be the first of what would be an annual series alongside the Cowboys Stadium and Georgia Dome events. Whether it would continue to feature SEC and Big 12 teams is unclear. ESPN also hasn't yet reported what name the game might adopt.

It could easily be a matchup of Top-25 opponents. Though they have much to prove this season after the departure of Brandon Weeden, the Cowboys have spent most of the past several seasons under Mike Gundy ranked. The Bulldogs have gotten off to a 4-0 start that's seen them return to the rankings for the first time since Week 4 of the 2011 season.

To be frank, though, even pairing an up-and-coming program like Dan Mullen's Bulldogs and an already-came-up program like Gundy's Cowboys won't have the Reliant game in the same airspace as the Dallas and Atlanta games just yet. The 2013 Cowboys Classic will pit current top-5 mainstay LSU against TCU, while Texas will play UCLA in the 2014 version. The 2013 Chick-fil-A game will once again feature currently reigning national champion Alabama against ACC power Virginia Tech.

But as starts go, another entry in the SEC-vs.-Big 12 partnership isn't a bad one at all for the Houston game.

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