The announcement of Texas A&M joining the SEC is still fresh in the air as the Aggies get set to play the Arkansas Razorbacks in Dallas.
The fancy stadium that Jerry Jones built will host a rivalry game this weekend that once was a Southwest Conference battle, has been an out-of-conference match-up in recent seasons and will now be a conference battle again as both teams fight for an SEC crown starting in 2012.
Most likely, these two programs will be in the same division once realignment is complete.
That means the rivalry, which has been called the Southwest Classic, will grow and the posturing for an upper hand with recruits, dollars and rankings will ensue.
Between Texas A&M and Arkansas, who will end up ahead of the other down the road?
With so many variables that are hard to predict, it may be tough to project which of these two teams are best positioned to outpace the other over the next decade.
However, looking at the following criteria we can take our best guess:
The Razorbacks' stadium (Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium) has a capacity of 72,000. In 2010, Arkansas averaged just 68,932 fans per game at home.
In contrast, Texas A&M's stadium (Kyle Field) has a stated capacity of 82,002. In 2010, the Aggies averaged over capacity at 82,477 fans per game.
Texas A&M has the clear advantage in crowd volume and has a sizable advantage in school size. As a matter of fact, Texas A&M is the sixth-largest university in the nation, with over 50,000 students, and will become the SEC's largest institution when it joins the conference.
There are also new reports that Texas A&M is planning an update to Kyle Field that could add even more seats and that season tickets for next season are already sold out.
If size matters, the Aggies should be in good shape competing with Arkansas.
Advantage: Texas A&M
According to Scout.com, a national recruiting resource, in the last three years Arkansas has finished with a top-25 nationally ranked recruiting class twice. They finished 17th last season and 20th in 2009.
The state of Arkansas has not historically been known for having tons of 4- and 5-star recruits, while Texas is a hot bed for college football blue-chip recruits.
Texas A&M has not dominated the recruiting scene in years past, struggling to compete on the recruiting trail with the likes of Texas and Oklahoma.
However, more recently the Aggies have also finished with top-25 nationally ranked classes two of the last three years. The difference is that they are currently ranked No. 5 in the nation for their early 2012 class efforts (they already have commitments from nine 4- and 5-star recruits), while Arkansas is unranked at this time.
While neither team has dominated recruiting, Texas A&M seems to be on a hot streak recently and could outpace Arkansas in this category.
Advantage: Texas A&M
This is where Arkansas has all the advantage.
First of all, Arkansas is 40-24-3 all-time versus Texas A&M. They have also beaten the Aggies both of the past two seasons.
To sum up winning, Arkansas has won 15 more games over the past 10 seasons (2001 to 2010) than Texas A&M.
To make matters worse for the Aggies, Texas A&M is 0-6 the past 16 seasons against SEC opponents.
The bottom line
Both of these programs had solid seasons in 2010. Texas A&M won nine games and Arkansas played in a BCS bowl game and posted 10 victories.
Texas A&M is the larger school, has a hot current recruiting class and recruiting region, and larger stadium and crowds.
However, they haven't had success against Arkansas, or the SEC, on the football field.
At the end of the day, things like recruits and attendance only really mater if you win.
Arkansas is SEC tested and has more talent, and more wins, than Texas A&M in recent years.
The Razorbacks need to step up the recruiting, but should still be the odds on favorite to stay ahead of Texas A&M in the foreseeable future.
It all starts this weekend.
Can Texas A&M get a jump start on catching up with Arkansas, and the SEC, with a win?
Or will Arkansas extend the winning gap between the programs and beat the Aggies in Dallas?
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