Pac-12 third in final power rankings

Statistically speaking, the race for who's No. 2 has been settled. It's the Big 12.

The SEC finished atop the power rankings, per the folks at ESPN Stats and Info, after winning its seventh straight BCS National Championship. It's also the 10th straight season the SEC has finished .500 or better in bowl games, which is the best streak in the nation.

As we all know, the Pac-12 went 4-4 in its bowl games. It won both BCS matchups -- which is huge -- but didn't fare as well in the rest of its games against BCS opponents, going 0-3 against Texas, Georgia Tech and Baylor.

From the article:

In the race for second-best, The Big 12 narrowly edged the Pac-12 despite an average bowl season. The biggest difference between the two conferences was depth. The Big 12 had nine of its 10 teams play in bowl games compared to eight of 12 teams for the Pac-12.

In head-to-head bowl games, the Big 12 won two of three games against Pac-12 opponents, including Baylor’s 49-26 victory over Pac-12 South champion UCLA. Yet, Oregon ran past Kansas State in the conferences’ only BCS Bowl matchup.

It's time to start thinking about contenders for next year. Oregon tops that list -- for sure -- and Stanford has proved to have staying power despite lots of turnover in recent years. Dare we say Arizona State could make a move into the top 10 next season? The pieces are in place -- including one very large piece.

Of course, there will be plenty of time between now and August to debate which Pac-12 team could break the SEC's grasp on the title. But for now, Pac-12 fans have to settle for third.