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Monday, October 3, 2011
SEC closes gap in conference rankings

By Sharon Katz and Albert Larcada

After five weeks, the Big 12 and SEC remain atop the ESPN Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings, but the gap between the two conferences has narrowed.

The SEC gained 1.7 points on the Big 12, as it jumped the Big 12 in the AP Poll. However, the Big 12 remains slightly ahead of the SEC in the overall rankings based on its stronger computer numbers.

Following its win against Florida, the Alabama Crimson Tide jumped the Oklahoma Sooners and into second place in the AP Poll. The SEC received 52-of-60 possible first place votes in the poll and is the only conference with four teams ranked in the top 15.

The Auburn Tigers‘ victory over the South Carolina vaulted the Tigers into 15th place after not being ranked last week, and the Arkansas Razorbacks' win over Texas A&M helped the Razorbacks climb into the top 10.

In the only head-to-head battle of the SEC and Big 12 so far this season, Arkansas outperformed Texas A&M in the second half to beat the Aggies for a third straight year. Despite the loss, the Big 12 is still 27-3 in games outside of the conference, while the SEC is 28-4 in non-conference games.

Each conference has six teams ranked in the top 25 of the AP Poll, but the Big 12 has a higher percentage of ranked schools because it only has 10 teams in the conference compared to 12 teams in the SEC. Every team in the Big 12 is currently at or above .500, while the SEC has three teams with losing records.

The Big 12 and SEC remain well above the next closest conference in the rankings, but the Big Ten did close the gap this week. The conference gained 6.1 points after big wins by the Wisconsin Badgers, the Illinois Fighting Illini, the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans. The Big Ten has a team ranked in the top 5 of the AP Poll for the first time this year, and three teams ranked in the top 15 overall.

The Mountain West Conference and Big East both fell by double-digits in the rankings after tough non-conference losses. The TCU Horned Frogs lost to SMU in overtime and fell out of the AP Top 25, while the South Florida Bulls' loss to Pittsburgh also dropped them from the AP Top 25. This leaves only one ranked team for each of these conferences.

For a brief recap on how we rank the conferences, click here.