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The most popular school in Texas? Thanks to Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M reigns supreme and UH stands tall

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University of Texas, UT, Texas A&M, football
Although no longer rivals on the field, Texas A&M and University of Texas athletes still compete in polls. Sports Media
Johnny Manziel hop
Johnny Manziel has contributed to A&M's rise in popularity, sports-wise. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Robert Griffin III
Now playing for the Washington Redskins, former Baylor Bear Robert Griffin III is more popular than Johnny Football. Washington Redskins/Facebook
University of Texas, UT, Texas A&M, football
Johnny Manziel hop
Robert Griffin III

The University of Texas has fallen behind Texas A&M University in popularity in the Lone Star State. A survey by Public Policy Polling finds that now 22 percent of Texas voters identify themselves as Aggie sports fans, compared with the 20 percent who declare their loyalty for the Longhorns.

Next in line is the University of Houston (with 10 percent of the vote), followed by Baylor University (8 percent), Texas Tech University (5 percent), Texas Christian University (4 percent), University of Texas at El Paso (3 percent) and Southern Methodist University (2 percent).

 "Texas A&M has caught up to UT for having the largest fan base in the state."

“Texas A&M has caught up to Texas for having the largest fan base in the state,” the polling firm said.

Of course, Texas A&M's shift to the SEC in 2012 robbed Texans of the traditional historic Thanksgiving football rivalry between the state's two dominant schools. But it hasn't robbed everyone of the chance to ferociously debate which school reigns supreme.

In September 2011, Public Policy Polling also questioned Texans about their favorite college sports teams. In that poll, 23 percent of Texas voters said they were hooked by the Longhorns, while 15 percent pledged their allegiance to the Aggies. The polling firm noted that its 2011 survey preceded the Johnny Manziel era at Texas A&M, “and that seems to have changed the balance of power in the state a little bit.”

Not surprisingly, Texans’ opinions about Johnny Football are divided. In the poll, 26 percent of Texans viewed him favorably, while 23 percent gave the Aggies’ Heisman-winning quarterback a thumbs down. Half of those polled had no opinion one way or the other.

Another of the state’s football heroes — former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III — proved to be more popular. Thirty six percent of the people surveyed cheered the Heisman winner, while 11 percent jeered him and 53 percent were uncertain. In a head-to-head matchup, Texans indicated they liked Griffin more than Manziel by a 28 to 23 percent margain.

In this year’s poll, Texas A&M ruled as the strong favorite among Republicans. GOP voters cast their ballots for A&M over UT by a margin of 35 percent to 16 percent. Meanwhile, Democratic voters sided with UT over A&M by a margin of 26 percent to 13 percent. At 15 percent, the University of Houston came in second among Democrats. Among independent voters, UT beat A&M (18 percent vs. 13 percent).

On the football field this season, Texas is 8-2 in the Big 12 and Texas A&M is 7-2 in the SEC. In one poll that truly matters — the Associated Press football rankings — A&M comes in 10th and UT places 23rd.

Off the football field, A&M reigns as the largest university in the state, with fall 2013 enrollment hitting a record 58,809. Texas is No. 2 with fall 2013 enrollment of 52,076.

Off the football field, A&M reigns as the largest university in the state, with fall 2013 enrollment hitting a record 58,809. At No. 2 is UT, with fall 2013 enrollment of 52,076.

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