Do you agree with the idea that Arkansas and Tennessee are basically in the same place in their respective rebuilds and this season's game has a heightened significance as a result?
Mitchell: Basically the same place. I'd say Arkansas is better developed and groomed as a team, but the Vols have had a way better time recruiting. Both teams on the up and up, playing similar roles in the east and west. I kinda like the comparisons personally, and can't wait to beat them this year.
Scottie: All of ya'll know I'm not a homer, but I give the edge to Arkansas here. Bielema has changed the entire mentality of the program in two years, and finally had success in the West division and finished 7-6. Tennessee did the same, but in the East. But yeah, this is one of the games I'm most looking forward to watching this season.
Robert: Two teams that finished 7-6 from last season. Seems like a fair comparison. Common opponents from last season include Alabama, Ole Miss, and Mizzou. Arkansas had arguably better performances against those teams last season going 1-2 as opposed to the vols going 0-3, but if you compare their wins over South Carolina and Kentucky to Arkansas beating LSU and Texas Tech, it's pretty clear Arkansas has proven themselves against tougher competition than Tennessee has. Arkansas has the edge. (Note: Georgia was another common opponent last year and the Vols fared much better in Athens, nearly winning, than Arkansas did in Little Rock.)
Adam: Without a doubt. I believe it's a must win for the Hogs. Simple as that.
Mark: Basically (although had we been able to play Tennessee's schedule, the perception would be that we were much further ahead), and yes. Folks seem to be looking at the game as a "winner-is-the-big-thing" type deal.
Ryan: Yes, except Tennessee has had much higher ranked recruiting classes. Based on that they should be way ahead of the Hogs, but they really don't seem to be. If Tennessee wins the East this year like their recruiting rankings say they should, then I would definitely put them above the Hogs. However, to me, not much difference between playing in the Texas Bowl and Gator Bowl anymore.
Jamie: I think Tennessee will always get a bit more benefit than they deserve for the present because of 98. They’ve won it all in the last 20 years. I do think that 2014 was more impressive for Arkansas than for UT, but their recruiting classes have been dynamite over Butch’s time there and that’s all gonna fall into place at some point. I think a lot of people think that will be this year for them. I do think that our game with them has added pressure for both teams because of the comparisons. I just wish it was at DWRRS instead of Knoxville.
Doc: I don't buy it. I think Arkansas is ahead of the Vols unless the Hogs' defense takes a worst-case-scenario step backward. The Vols do have much more highly rated recruiting classes in the last two cycles, but does that define where the two programs stand right now? Or on October 3rd? Not necessarily. Those fruits won't fully show themselves for another year or two.
Arkansas was better than Tennessee last year. The advanced stats bear that out. Has Tennessee improved to the point that they can match or surpass the Razorbacks? I need to see it on the field. They host Oklahoma and travel to Florida (they haven't beaten UF since 2004) before they play Arkansas. We'll have a much better idea of how good Tennessee really is pretty quickly.
There are many similarities to Arkansas and Tennessee after last season but I feel those are more circumstantial than genuine. They both finished 7-6 and showed improvements in November, but I'll put Arkansas' two SEC wins (LSU and Ole Miss) over their three (South Carolina, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt). They also gave up more points in their win over South Carolina (42) than Arkansas gave up in the entire month of November (38). How much better will their defense be? Arkansas faces Texas Tech and A&M before heading to Knoxville, so we'll have a better idea about the Hogs as well.
I'm just not ready to say the two programs are in the same place yet. They may prove to be, but I'm going to need to see something on the field before I'm ready to make that declaration.