Entering the bowl season the SEC maintains a healthy, but not unreachable lead in ESPN’s Stats & Information’s conference power rankings. For more on how we objectively rank conferences check here.
There are many parallels between the final BCS standings and the conference rankings. Most notably the SEC is ahead of the Big 12 primarily because of its human rankings. The Big 12 is actually a stronger conference in most computer ranking systems, but the AP poll more than makes up for the gap with four SEC teams in the top 10 (the Big 12 has one).
In the BCS Alabama is playing in the national championship primarily because of human voters. Four of the 6 computer rankings that make up the BCS have OSU ahead of Alabama, but the Tide had stronger human numbers.
Conference USA was the biggest loser during championship week as undefeated Houston took a huge slide down the AP rankings after its loss to Southern Miss. The loss is almost entirely the reason Conference USA fell behind the Big East in the conference rankings for the first time in weeks.
Interestingly Houston and Southern Miss are both ahead of the Big East BCS participant West Virginia in the AP poll and in each team’s average computer ranking.
With the exception of the national championship game every bowl game will feature inter-conference matchups, making the final conference rankings standings far from set in stone. Stay tuned.