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Has The New Big XII Gained Ground On The SEC?

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In college football, the debate of which conference is the best from top to bottom rages on. Many of the talking heads will say hands down it is the SEC. One deciding factor that could have settled that score, at least for 2011, would have been pitting the potent offense of the Oklahoma St. Cowboys against the strangling defense of the LSU Tigers. Instead the SEC played for a Conference National Championship. Now, after a bit of the realignment dust has settled, it would appear that the Big XII is gaining steam and could make a push for the top conference in the nation sooner rather than later.

2011 Final Coaches' Poll

1 Alabama Crimson Tide
2 LSU Tigers
3 Oklahoma St. Cowboys
4 Oregon Ducks
5 Arkansas Razorbacks
6 Boise St. Broncos
7 Stanford Cardinal
8 South Carolina Gamecocks
9 Michigan Wolverines
10 Michigan St. Spartans
11 Wisconsin Badgers
12 Baylor Bears
13 TCU Horned Frogs
14 Houston Cougars
15 Oklahoma Sooners
16 Kansas St. Wildcats
17 Virginia Tech Hokies
18 West Virginia Mountaineers
19 Southern Miss. Golden Eagles
20 Georgia Bulldogs
21 Cincinnati Bearcats
22 Clemson Tigers
23 Florida St. Seminoles
24 Nebraska Cornhuskers
25 BYU Cougars

A lot had happened by the end of the 2011 football season. But as they say, the great teams find a win to win even when the odds are against them. That is exactly what seems to happen year in and year out as injuries are unpredictable and suspensions wreak havoc upon the favorites.

The Big XII explored the idea of expansion after Nebraska bolted for the B10 and Colorado jumped to the PAC-12. However, their hand was forced when Missouri as well as Texas A&M decided to leave for the SEC. Now as we know, these were two average teams that many were trying to give away and that's exactly what happened.

With these two jumping from what appeared to be a sinking ship, the Big XII was in serious trouble. Fast forward to the pick up of TCU as well as West Virginia and the Big XII became a stable conference that Mizzou and aTm might regret leaving in the future. But why?

A quick look at the final standings on the 2011 season finds seven, yes count 'em, seven, teams ranked inside the top 25. While the SEC was unable to match that number with six, they benefit by having three in the top 5. In short, the Big XII made a power play with 6-of-10 teams being ranked to the SEC's 5-of-14. While the SEC still reigns supreme, the Big XII is quickly making up ground and could become the premier conference in the nation with the new playoff format taking hold in 2014.

The winds of change are among us and the pot has been stirred. There is still much to happen in terms of realignment as super-conferences are on the verge of breakout. Where the wheel will stop, no one knows, but the Big XII looks to be on the right track while the SEC diluted a power conference while giving their neighbor the easy road out.