June 23, 2014 at 1:00 am

Big Ten just fourth-best football conference, Phil Steele says

Ed Davis and Michigan State, and Devin Gardner and Michigan move from the Legends Division to the new East Division in the Big Ten. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)

Where does the Big Ten rank as a college football conference?

No better than tied for fourth, according to college football expert Phil Steele.

ESPN.com published Steele's rankings (pay site), which are based, he says, on several factors, including:

* Non-conference record

* Record against BCS conferences

* Bowl record

* Teams that finished in the Associated Press top 10 and top 25

* NFL draft picks

Steele says the Big Ten ties for fourth with the ACC: "The Big Ten has slipped in the conference rankings recently primarily because of poor bowl performances. They went just 2-5 last year, marking their fourth consecutive losing bowl season. The conference did go 37-11 in nonconference action, which was third best. This year they have three teams that rank in my preseason top 13 in Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin, while Northwestern, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska and Maryland also are in my top 35."

PHIL STEELE'S CONFERENCE RANKINGS

1. SEC

2. Pac-12

3. Big 12

T4. ACC

T4. Big Ten

6. American Athletic

7. Independents

8. Mountain West

T9. Mid-American

T9. Conference USA

11. Sun Belt