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Monday, October 31, 2011
SEC passes Big 12 again in rankings

By Sharon Katz and Albert Larcada

For the third straight week, conference atop ESPN Stats & Information’s Conference Power Rankings is not the same as the previous week.

The SEC again tops the Conference Power Rankings after close wins by Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina. The top of the conference is proving stronger than just LSU and Alabama, as the SEC has four teams ranked in the AP Top 10 and six teams in the AP Top 25. No other conference has more than two teams ranked in the Top 10, and the Big Ten is the next-closest conference with five teams ranked in the Top 25.

The Big 12 fell significantly after Texas A&M and Texas Tech lost to Missouri and Iowa State, respectively. Missouri and Iowa State were a combined 1-7 in conference games prior to their victories, resulting in both Texas A&M and Texas Tech falling out of the AP Top 25. The SEC now leads all conferences in AP Points.

Kansas State's loss to Oklahoma dropped them from 10th to 17th in the AP Poll, but this loss did not seem to affect the rankings as significantly as the losses by Texas A&M and Texas Tech. The difference is that Oklahoma gained many of the AP points that Kansas State lost, while Iowa State and Missouri did not earn any AP votes for the Big 12 after their wins.

The Pac-12 gained 3.7 points this week after the Stanford-USC triple overtime thriller. USC fell only one spot and 17 points in the AP Rankings after the loss, and wins by Oregon and Arizona State continued the Pac-12’s ascent in the polls.

Finally, the Sun Belt Conference began the season in last place in the Conference Power Rankings, but strong seasons by Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida International have vaulted the conference into ninth place for the first time this year. The Sun Belt already has two bowl-eligible teams through nine weeks, which is more than the MAC and WAC combined.

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