ESPN throws Big 12 on top of its power rankings, above SEC

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Often regarded as the nation’s toughest college football conference, the Southeastern Conference dropped to second in ESPN’s power rankings, getting nudged by the Big 12 in a report released Monday.

While news was positive locally for the conference with the Missouri Tigers earning a repeat trip to the SEC Championship Game by beating Arkansas on Friday, Saturday was a catastrophe. In four rivalry games with Atlantic Coast Conference schools, SEC schools lost all four. Additionally, previously fourth-ranked Mississippi State lost to rival Ole Miss, knocking the school out of contention for the College Football Playoff.

The Big 12 moved to the top of the Associated Press’ rankings and are ranked third according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, giving the conference a 90.3 overall rating compared to the SEC’s 90.2. The Big 12 still has two schools vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff, with Texas Christian and Baylor in the top 10.

TCU may move into a top-four spot vacated by Mississippi State, the penultimate rankings are released this Tuesday night. TCU plays Iowa State in its season finale on Saturday.

Baylor plays Kansas State in its finale, another highly regarded team that’s currently 12th in the College Football Playoff rankings. If Baylor beats KSU, it will earn its second-consecutive Big 12 title and has a head-to-head victory against TCU, its best argument for entry into the playoff over the Horned Frogs. KSU can earn a share of the Big 12 title by beating Baylor, but unless TCU loses to Iowa State, the Wildcats can’t win the conference by virture of a loss to TCU earlier in the year.