Mike Hlas is an award-winning columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette and force behind The Hlog. Each week, he will break down the biggest mismatch in college football. Considering the increasing number of Bowl Championship Series teams scheduling games against cupcake opponents, Mike's task is more challenging than trying to spend some alone time with Kate Gosselin.
The highest price ever charged for a regular-season game involving a Big 12 conference team wasn't for a Nebraska-Oklahoma battle when both were dynasties.
Nor was it any of the OU-Texas Red River Rivalry games in Dallas.
Or a Texas-Texas A&M Thanksgiving battle.
It took courage (or a different word) for the Aggies to charge that much for this game, let alone for season-tickets, after they went 4-8 and Arkansas was 5-7 in 2008.
"It's two great universities and the start of something really special as far as the matchup between those two teams," A&M coach Mike Sherman said in March. "I've thought that Texas and Oklahoma have had something special and I think that Texas A&M and Arkansas are going to have a similar thing. I think that in itself is worth it.
"I think that going into that stadium which is without a doubt one of the most elite stadiums ever built in the world ... I think that is a plus as well. Yeah, I probably would pay the $300."
Of course, Sherman makes $1.8 million a year, so he can afford to light three C-notes on fire for something frivolous.
These two teams were bitter rivals in the old Southwest Conference, but haven't met since 1991 because of Arkansas' transfer to the SEC.
The Aggies are 3-0, but the wins were at home against the tame trio of New Mexico, Utah State and Alabama Birmingham.
A&M leads the nation in total offense, but Sherman acknowledged, "We haven't played a team the likes of Arkansas yet, or any of the Big 12 opponents. So it's a little bit skewed that way."
Arkansas opened as a 1-point favorite this week despite a 1-2 mark. The win was over I-AA Missouri State. The losses came against actual teams.
Georgia beat the Hogs, 52-41, in Fayetteville, then Arkansas got rolled at Alabama last Saturday, 35-7.
The Razorbacks gave up touchdown plays of 50, 52 and 80 yards to 'Bama.
"That's on me," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said of the loss. "I didn't get them to believe they could come in here and win."
The Razorbacks gave up a total of eight touchdown passes in those two SEC defeats, which, by the way, gave them eight losses in 10 conference games under Petrino.
What did they expect in Arkansas for a paltry $2,850,000 a year for their head coach?
"We've got to win [the A&M] game, no doubt," Petrino said.
The Hogs' quality of competition declines this week when they face an A&M program that was 2-6 in the Big 12 last year, Sherman's first as the Aggies' coach.
Sherman shares something in common with Petrino. They both were NFL head coaches. Sherman was 57-39 at Green Bay, but was fired after a 4-12 cave-in in 2005.
Petrino, however, departed the NFL on his terms. He walked out on the Atlanta Falcons late in the 2007 season with a 3-10 record, less than a year after he bailed on Louisville to take the Atlanta job.
Arkansas wanted the offensive innovator. Now the state wants to see some results.
Sherman, meanwhile, has come up with his own innovation. He announced a drawing will be held to pick four students — a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior — to ride the team bus, stay at the team hotel, attend the team walkthrough on Friday and watch the game from the A&M sideline in 12th Man jerseys.
"We'll see how it goes and maybe it will be added to the A&M traditions and lore," Sherman said. "Hopefully they won't have to go into the game."
Why not? It would give the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex a reason to be interested in this otherwise-mundane matchup.
Thanks to Aggie Report.