The second College Football Playoff rankings for the 2021 season will be revealed around 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 9 on ESPN. This means all games played through Week 10 will be used for consideration. The rankings are determined by an 11-member selection committee.
Selection day for this season's playoff is Sunday, Dec. 5.
Based on an analysis of this season's results, plus past CFP rankings, I predicted what the second CFP rankings for the 2021 season will look like. These are predictions of what the College Football Playoff selection committee will do. They are not my personal rankings.
College Football Playoff rankings predictions: Top 25 for Week 11
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A new-look top four
After Purdue handed No. 3 Michigan State its first loss of the season in a dominant 40-29 win for the Boilermakers — their second win of the season over a team that was ranked in the top three of the CFP rankings or AP poll, by the way — I project that the CFP selection committee will drop the Spartans in the rankings, but not far.
I think the committee will slide Oregon and Ohio State up one spot apiece to No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, after the Ducks beat the Washington Huskies and Ohio State escaped Nebraska in a pair of wins in which neither team looked particularly dominant. Michigan State will check in at No. 5, I think.
Purdue improved to 6-3 on the season with the win, so I think the Boilermakers will now be ranked in the final spots of the Week 11 CFP rankings, given their wins over Michigan State and Iowa, and the fact that two of their three losses were to Notre Dame and Wisconsin.
Cincinnati will stay at No. 6 after a shaky performance against Tulsa in which the Bearcats won 28-20 after some dramatic moments on the goal line late in the game.
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Wake Forest will fall outside of the top 10
Despite being one of the six remaining undefeated teams in the FBS, Wake Forest was ranked No. 9 in the first CFP rankings of the season. After losing 58-55 to a North Carolina team that was .500 at the time of kickoff (in a rare non-conference game between the two ACC schools!), the Demon Deacons are bound to drop in the committee's rankings, especially considering how close other one-loss teams, such as Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, were to Wake Forest in the first rankings.
Expect a rotating cast of SEC West schools in the rankings
In Week 10, Mississippi State was ranked in the CFP rankings at No. 17, despite being fourth among "others receiving votes" in the AP poll that was released two days prior. The committee was clearly impressed by the Bulldogs' wins up to that point in the season.
Well, Mississippi State lost to Arkansas, 31-28, and the win propelled the Razorbacks to bowl eligibility and a 6-3 record. Arkansas now has wins over Texas A&M and Mississippi State, and its losses were to teams that will be ranked in or around the top 15.
Given the depth of the SEC West this season — like most seasons — it won't be surprise if any teams from the division that are ranked higher than No. 15 and lose to a division foe are simply replaced by another team from the division.
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The crowded Big Ten West
Every team in the Big Ten West has at least two losses this season (and every team besides Iowa has at least three), so you can probably safely discount a team from the division making the College Football Playoff, given that no two-loss team made the playoff in its first seven seasons.
But the winner of the division will be matched up with the winner of the Big Ten East in the Big Ten Championship and Ohio State currently leads the other division. After Week 10, there's a four-way tie atop the Big Ten West as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue and Iowa is each 4-2 in conference play. The Gophers, Badgers and Hawkeyes were ranked in the first CFP rankings, but Minnesota lost to Illinois and Purdue beat Michigan State, so the division should still have three teams in the Week 11 CFP rankings. None of those teams are likely to beat ranked in the top 15, and none of them are guaranteed to be ranked much better than No. 20, but in a muddled division, there are several teams that could potentially prove to be a top-25 win for Ohio State (or Michigan State, if the Spartans manage to win the Big Ten East) in the Big Ten Championship.