STARKVILLE, Miss. - Twelve games at the MSU Soccer Field, the most since 1996, highlight Mississippi State's 20-game slate for the 2012 season.
Half of the schedule, which kicks off at home against Southeastern Louisiana on Aug. 17, is comprised of teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. Macdonald's squad will host five of those teams before the regular season culminates with the annual Magnolia Cup battle against in-state rival Ole Miss on Oct. 25.
"We have put together what we think is a challenging schedule for our team," MSU coach Neil Macdonald said. "We are thrilled to have 12 opportunities to play in front of our home fans, and we need all the Bulldogs to come out and make the MSU Soccer Field a difficult environment for opponents.
"We play some quality clubs in the non-conference, and that will be beneficial in preparing our younger players for the always-difficult challenge of competing in the SEC. Our team really progressed in the spring, and when we add in a talented freshman class, we have the opportunity to be an exciting team to watch this season."
The following weekend, State will host the third Bulldog Classic. The Dawgs play Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champion and NCAA participant UT Martin Friday before taking on South Alabama on Sunday.
MSU closes the opening month of the season with its lone non-conference tilts away from home, meeting Georgia Southern (Aug. 31) and Louisiana-Monroe (Sept. 2) in the Southern Miss Tournament in Hattiesburg.
The Maroon & White returns home to close out the non-conference portion of the slate against in-state foes Mississippi Valley State (Sept. 7) and USM (Sept. 9).
Macdonald's unit opens the 13-game conference slate on the road, venturing to NCAA Tournament qualifiers South Carolina and Kentucky Sept. 14 and 16, respectively.
The Dawgs' SEC home opener comes Sept. 21 against Vanderbilt. Two days later, NCAA participant Tennessee comes to Starkville for a Sunday afternoon showdown.
Mississippi State wraps a four-game league homestand Sept. 28 and 30. The Bulldogs meet LSU on Friday, while league newcomer Texas A&M makes its first trip to Starkville on Sunday.
Following the four-match stint in Starkville, Mississippi State closes road action over back-to-back weekends. The Bulldogs travel to Auburn and the SEC's other new addition, Missouri, Oct. 5 and 7, respectively, before ending the away portion of the schedule with trips to Alabama (Oct. 12) and Florida (Oct. 14).The Dawgs conclude the regular season with three-straight matches at the MSU Soccer Field. State looks to avenge last season's heart-breaking overtime setback to Georgia on Oct. 19, while hosting Arkansas and Ole Miss Oct. 21 and 25, respectively.