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Monday, November 7, 2011
Big East and Big Ten jumped in rankings

By Sharon Katz and Albert Larcada

The SEC remains atop ESPN Stats & Info's Conference Power Rankings after a classic game between its top two teams on Saturday.

Despite Alabama's loss to LSU, the Tide only dropped to fourth in the AP Poll and third in the computers, which did not affect the conference rankings. Both Top-10 matchups of SEC teams highlighted the strength and competitiveness of the top conference in our rankings.

For the first time this year, the Pac-12 jumped to third in the rankings after decisive wins by Stanford, Oregon and USC. The computers rank the Pac-12 as the fifth-strongest conference, but Stanford and Oregon's Top-7 rankings give the Pac-12 a significant edge over the Big Ten in AP points.

Currently, the Big Ten does not have a team ranked higher than 12th in the AP poll. Losses by Nebraska and Michigan significantly hurt the conference's average AP rank, as the two teams dropped a combined 19 spots and 939 points in the poll this week. There is no dominant team in the Big Ten, but Penn State can improve their rank and recoup lost points for the Big Ten if they beat Nebraska next week.

Conference USA also passed the Big East in the rankings this week. Houston and Southern Miss are a combined 17-1 for Conference USA, and for the first time this season the conference has two teams ranked in the AP Top 25. Conversely, Cincinnati is the only ranked team in the Big East after West Virginia lost to Louisville and fell out of the Top 25. West Virginia will travel to Cincinnati next week in a game that may have conference title and conference ranking implications.

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