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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | November 21, 2021

College Football Playoff rankings predictions: Oregon falls, Utah climbs in Week 13

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The fourth College Football Playoff rankings for the 2021 season will be revealed around 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 23 on ESPN. This means all games played through Week 12 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 fourth 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 for Week 13

RANK

SCHOOL

RECORD

PREVIOUS

1 Georgia 11-0 1
2 Alabama 10-1 2
3 Ohio State 10-1 4
4 Michigan 10-1 6
5 Cincinnati 11-0 5
6 Notre Dame 10-1 8
7 Oklahoma State 10-1 9
8 Baylor 9-2 11
9 Ole Miss 9-2 12
10 Oklahoma 10-1 13
11 Oregon 9-2 3
12 Michigan State 9-2 7
13 BYU 9-2 14
14 Wisconsin 8-3 15
15 Texas A&M 8-3 16
16 Utah 8-3 23
17 Wake Forest 9-2 10
18 Iowa 9-2 17
19 Pittsburgh 9-2 18
20 San Diego State 10-1 19
21 NC State 8-3 20
22 UTSA 11-0 22
23 Houston 10-1 24
24 Clemson 8-3 NR
25 Mississippi State 7-4 25

Who will be in the top four?

After No. 3 Oregon's 38-7 loss at Utah in Week 12, the Ducks are sure to drop in the next College Football Playoff rankings and not only will they drop out of the top four, they're at risk of their ranking falling to a double-digit ranking, as I think it will.

Oregon's impending drop will open a spot in the top four, which is likely to be filled by Cincinnati or Michigan. Both teams had massive wins in Week 12, with Cincinnati defeating SMU 48-14 and Michigan beating Maryland 59-18.

There's also a question of whether Ohio State, which was ranked No. 4 last week, will leapfrog Alabama and earn the No. 2 spot in the CFP rankings. Both teams won against a ranked opponent in Week 12, but the Buckeyes absolutely dominated a Michigan State team that was ranked No. 7. Ohio State led 49-0 at halftime and won 56-7. It was the second week in a row that Ohio State scored more than 55 points against a ranked opponent.

Meanwhile, Alabama beat No. 21 Arkansas 42-35 on Saturday. Alabama and Ohio State both have a case for the No. 2 ranking, but given the selection committee's clear disposition toward Alabama, even a dominant win by Ohio State may not be enough for the Buckeyes to pass the Crimson Tide after the latter also beat a top-25 opponent. If Ohio State is still ranked No. 3, and not No. 2, in Week 13, then the Buckeyes could potentially move up to No. 2 in the Week 14 rankings if they beat a Michigan team that should be ranked in the top five in this week's CFP rankings.

READ MORE: Check out a complete recap of Ohio State's win over Michigan State

Where will Cincinnati be ranked?

The committee has never ranked a team from the American Athletic Conference in the top four of the CFP rankings, so until that happens, it's hard to predict that the committee will rank a team of Cincinnati's profile in the top four and in the projected playoff field — if the season ended after Week 12.

Cincinnati is one of three remaining undefeated teams in the country and it has a road win over a Notre Dame team that I project the committee to rank No. 6 on Tuesday, so the Bearcats are certainly worthy of consideration of a top-four ranking. They will be ranked either No. 4 or No. 5 on Tuesday, but the former ranking would certainly be much more significant, even though the season isn't over.

Keep an eye on Houston

The Cougars are 10-1 on the season and 8-0 in conference play, which means they'll play the Cincinnati Bearcats in the AAC Championship. The selection committee rewarded Houston with a No. 24 ranking in Week 12 and the Cougars could potentially climb a spot or two in the Week 13 CFP rankings.

As a top-25 team, Houston represents the type of team that could potentially give Cincinnati its first loss of the season in the AAC Championship, or the Cougars potentially provide the Bearcats with the opportunity for another quality win. If Cincinnati beats Houston in the AAC Championship, the question would then become whether Houston remains in the CFP rankings after a hypothetical loss to Cincinnati, because if not, then that win wouldn't count as a top-25 win in the committee's eyes.

Clemson rejoins the CFP rankings

Until Week 10 of the 2021 season, Clemson had never not been ranked in the CFP rankings, but after a 5-3 start to the season, the selection committee determined the Tigers weren't worthy of a top-25 ranking in the first CFP rankings of the season. Clemson then won in Week 10 and Week 11, but the 7-3 Tigers weren't ranked in last week's rankings.

Now, after a win over No. 10 Wake Forest, Clemson is 8-3 on the season and it's coming off of its best win of the season. Plus, each of its losses have aged "well," when you consider that Georgia is still undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country, and Pitt and NC State have been mainstays in the top 25 this season. All three losses came away from home, too.

Unlike the past six seasons, Clemson isn't a playoff contender, but the Tigers aren't as bad as they appeared to be when their record was 2-2 or 4-3. They could finish the regular season with a 9-3 record and potentially crack double-digit wins with a win in a bowl game.

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