SEC again tops Conference Power Rankings

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
5:59
PM ET
Last season, ESPN Stats & Info introduced its Conference Power Rankings -- a rankings system that uses a formula that equally weighs the rankings from the AP Poll and a compilation of available BCS computer rankings in order to determine which conference is the best and worst in the country.

The rankings are calculated on a 100-point scale, and for much of the season in 2010 the SEC dominated the rankings. The SEC finished the season 9.8 points above the Pac-10 for conference supremacy as Auburn went on to win the BCS National Championship.

In the first release of the 2011 Conference Power Rankings, the SEC has company atop the list of power conferences. The Big 12, led by AP No. 1 ranked team Oklahoma, has taken the lead in the computer rankings and has jumped 10.1 points since the final conference ratings of 2010.

While the season is still very young, and some of the computers remain somewhat based off of last season’s results, the emergence of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Baylor have the Big 12 in the mix as the best conference in the country.

Conference realignment has also led to big changes within the rankings. The WAC fell 50.3 points as a result of Boise State’s switch to the MWC, and the addition of Utah and Colorado hurt the Pac-12’s conference ranking. Although the loss of BYU may have hurt the MWC, the loss of Nebraska did not seem to effect the Big 12’s ranking.

Looking back on the first two weeks of play, the Pac-12 lost some high profile non-conference games that hurt its ranking. Oregon’s loss to LSU and Arizona’s loss to Oklahoma State were both prime-time games with major implications in the AP Poll. Additionally, Oregon State was blown out by Wisconsin and Colorado lost by 17 points to Hawaii.

Conversely, the SEC won big games over non-conference opponents that have cemented its place atop the rankings. Alabama, LSU and Tennessee all won big over teams in other conferences. Overall, 10 of 12 SEC teams are undefeated in non-conference play.

Perhaps the biggest game of the first two weekends was Baylor’s victory over TCU. As results of this game, TCU lost 524 points in the AP Poll since its preseason ranking, and Baylor -- who was unranked in the preseason poll -- gained 374 points and is now in 19th place. The Big 12 is now 14-1 overall while the MWC is 9-6.

Next week’s rankings could see major differences after three full weeks of play. Big games for Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio State, Miami, Michigan State, and Notre Dame this upcoming weekend may result in significant changes. Look out for the next edition of the Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings on Monday, September 19.

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.

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