When Texas A&M and Missouri joined the Southeastern Conference back in July, the general consensus was that Missouri was father along as a program. Eleven games into the season, it has become apparent that the Aggies are poised to win an SEC title before Missouri will.
The Aggies have gone 9-2 through the first 11 games of their inaugural season in the SEC. Missouri has struggled to a 4-6 record. The two teams will meet on Saturday in the season finale for both programs.
The Texas A&M football program has always been referred to as a "sleeping giant." The giant has awakened under new head coach Kevin Sumlin. He has the Aggies poised to be one of the top programs in the country.
This is a look at why A&M will win an SEC title before Missouri does.
The Texas A&M football program is already better than the Missouri program. They are closer to winning an SEC title right now than Missouri is.
While Missouri has struggled to a 2-5 conference record in their inaugural season in the SEC, the Aggies have shocked the nation with their easy adjustment to the league of champions.
The Ags have lost two conference games this season. They lost by three to Florida in their first game of the season. They might have won that game had they had a warm-up game before it like Florida did.
In theory, A&M could be 6-1 in the conference right now with a head-to-head win over Alabama making the Aggies the West leader.
A&M is not too far away from an SEC title right now, while Missouri is fighting to stay out of the SEC basement.
The Texas A&M football program has more inherent advantages as a program than Missouri does. The Ags have more natural advantages than most programs in the country.
The Ags should consistently be able to compete at a high level because of these inherent advantages. The A&M program resides in the state that produces the most college football recruits in the country.
Those recruits only have one choice if they want to stay in-state and play college football in the top conference in the country, and that choice is Texas A&M.
The fan base at A&M is one of the most passionate and dedicated in the country. They have sold out Kyle Field for two consecutive seasons. That means that 87,000 fans and all the revenue they produce are in College Station for home games.
Missouri's Faurot Field has a capacity of 71,000 and they have not consistently sold it out. That means that every time the Aggies and Tigers have a home game, the Ags have 16,000 more paying customers than Missouri. That is a huge difference in revenue for the two programs.
That revenue leads to better facilities and higher salaries to hire top-notch coaches. The Aggies are set up better to succeed in football than Mizzou.
The Ags are winning games with a bunch of freshmen leading the way. The leading passer, rusher and receiver on the A&M football team are freshmen.
Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans have exceeded all expectations in their first season of college football. They should both torment defenses for at least the next two years.
Missouri quarterback James Franklin is a junior and has been plagued by injuries. Their leading rusher, running back Kendail Lawrence, is a senior and will graduate after this season.
The Tigers will have to replace a lot of their offense over the next couple of years. The Aggies should be improving as their underclassmen gain more experience.
The Aggies have Johnny Manziel and Mizzou does not. That alone makes A&M more of a threat to win any kind of championship than Missouri.
What a lot of people do not realize is that Manziel is going to get better. Fans who are watching the game on television do not realize that Manziel has missed a lot of open receivers this season. The cameras concentrate on the ball and not on receivers running routes.
Manziel is going to spend another offseason getting more comfortable in the offense. He will gain a better understanding of where to go with the ball when pressured and how to go through his reads faster.
His improved play will make the Ags a threat to win the SEC and national titles over the next three years.
In the SEC, the game is won in the trenches. A&M is much stronger in the trenches right now than Missouri is.
The Aggies currently have five offensive linemen starting who will play on Sundays. Four of them will return in 2013. The Ags' bookend tackles, Jake Matthews and Luke Joeckel, will both be first-round draft picks when they decide to enter the NFL draft.
Junior defensive end Damontre Moore is the best defensive end in the country. He has put up monster numbers as a junior and will also be a first-round draft pick when he decides to enter the NFL draft.
Missouri does not have any talent that compares to those three players. The Aggies are better in the trenches than Missouri is, which is a big reason why the Aggies are playing for a BCS bowl game while the Tigers are fighting just to be bowl eligible.
Missouri made the mistake of believing that past success would lead to future success. They thought that they could run their program the same way they had in the Big 12 and they would win in the SEC.
Missouri won games in the Big 12 by spreading defenses out and letting their undersized running backs make defenders miss in space. They won games with speed and finesse.
In the SEC, those undersized running backs are getting pounded. Mizzou QB James Franklin rushed for almost 1,000 yards in the Big 12 last season, but has been pounded by SEC defenses and has not been able to stay on the field.
Franklin is averaging under two yards per carry in the SEC. Missouri is going to have to perform a program makeover if it wants to compete for championships in the SEC. They should have learned from watching Florida the two previous seasons that undersized running backs do not succeed in this league.
Missouri is going to have to recruit bigger running backs and play more of a power game on offense.
The Aggies already have good size at running back on campus and continue to recruit SEC-type running backs to campus. Both teams run versions of the spread, but the Aggies have the appropriate talent and mindset to succeed in this league right now.