Mythical Big 12-SEC challenge: No. 12 ISU vs. No. 12 MSU

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading an interesting piece by my colleague Mark Schlabach about potential conference challenges.

It got me to thinking how the Big 12 would play out against some of the other major conferences.

And for me, the most logical matchups would be against the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences. The main reason for the grouping is that all of the conferences have 12 members and would make an easy direct matchup with the counterparts in the Big 12.

For the purposes of these comparisons, I used the most recent rankings for the conferences that were generated by my fellow blogging colleagues: SEC with Chris Low and the ACC with Heather Dinich. And I figured I could break down how the Big 12 would fare, in my opinion, if we had a 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2 and so on throughout both conferences.

Today, I'll analyze how the No. 12 teams would fare. And first, we'll start with the Big 12 against the SEC.

These will be broken down into daily segments over the next 12 days in the Big 12-SEC challenge. We'll get into the Big 12 vs. the ACC in mid July.

And as far as record keeping goes, all records against teams date to the creation of the Big 12 in 1996.

Without further adieu, let's check out the No. 12s in our mythical Big 12-SEC challenge

Iowa State (Big 12 No. 12) vs. Mississippi State (SEC No. 12)

Iowa State's record against the SEC: 0-1
Mississippi State's record against the Big 12: 2-2
Most recent meeting: Never played.

Distance between them (according to How Far Is It): 646 miles

Where they should play: Springfield, Mo. (334 miles from Ames, 361 from Starkville)

Who wins: Mississippi State

Why: It would be a battle between two coaching newbies as Mississippi State's Dan Mullen and Iowa State's Paul Rhoads square off. Both are facing remarkably similar challenges of making their programs respectable in their respective conferences.

Both will be facing rebuilding jobs, but the guess is that Mississippi State senior tailback Anthony Dixon would enable the Bulldogs to keep Iowa State's potent trio of Austen Arnaud, Alexander Robinson and Darius Darks off the field enough to eke out a narrow victory. Even though the Bulldogs gained only 24 yards in their final game last season against Mississippi, I'm betting they would have improved success playing Mullen's favorite schemes against an Iowa State defense that ranked 95th or worse in all four major categories last season. On top of that, Iowa State returns only four defensive starters.

Friday: Kansas State (Big 12 No. 11) vs. Vanderbilt (SEC No. 11)

The count: SEC, 1-0.