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  • The top five teams all won in Week 10, but a pair of Big Ten shockers means the second tier of the College Football Playoff rankings should have plenty of changes.
By Lorenzo Arguello
November 07, 2017

The first iteration of the 2017 College Football Playoff rankings featured few surprises, and after the top five teams all won in Week 10, the second set of rankings shouldn't be too different at the top, either. As for the rest of the rankings, the Big Ten made sure to blow everything else to complete hell.

(Yes, we're well aware Wisconsin is still undefeated. Relax, we'll get to that below.)

Here are the things to keep an eye on Tuesday night when the new rankings are released on ESPN.

The U is back

Mark Richt looked at his second season in Miami as an opportunity to continue building a foundation, with 10 wins and an ACC Coastal title as a best-case scenario. Coming from where the Canes were, reaching the team's first-ever ACC championship game alone would have qualified 2017 as a huge success.

Now? A turnover-chain-wearing A-Rod and girlfriend J.Lo are cheering on a team that's a win over Notre Dame away from entering the projected playoff field. Thanks to losses by No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Penn State and No. 9 Wisconsin’s weak schedule, there's a very good chance the Canes will be sitting at No. 7 heading into a matchup against the Irish this weekend. Miami may even jump ahead of TCU for the No. 6 spot.

Since its last true national title contender over a decade ago, Miami has always had access to the talent necessary to turn things around quickly if the right coach took over. Likewise, Richt and his staff would argue competing for titles is something they expected right away. But let's be real: If Richt were forced to answer honestly about his 2017 expectations, there's no way he'd predict Saturday's Catholics vs. Convicts rekindling was going to have so much riding on it.

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For the Big Ten, it's likely Badgers or Bust

As our own Andy Staples explained, Wisconsin's path to the playoff is simple: win and you're in. For the pool of two-loss Big Ten East members with a fast-closing window to crack the top four—Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State—it's much more complicated.

If any of those teams were to beat a 12–0 Wisconsin for the Big Ten title without suffering any more losses, it could make a case for being the best two-loss team in the country. But that will matter only if there's further chaos involving the Big 12, ACC and Notre Dame. Now, if Auburn decides to overturn the SEC...

The lurkers

Every season has bonkers moments. This season has already had plenty, and there will be more in the final four weeks.

The best spot to be is hanging just outside the blast zone of the stunning upsets going, "Hey, look at us. You can't even remember the last time we lost." As of now, three teams have enough potential quality wins left on the board and a high-enough current ranking to warrant this "lurker" consideration: No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 8 TCU and No. 14 Auburn.

Oklahoma and TCU will face off in a playoff elimination game in Norman on Saturday night. The winner controls its own destiny toward the Big 12 championship game, while the loser falls back to the two-loss pack fighting for the Big 12's No. 2 seed. Either team emerging as the conference champ with a 12–1 record could easily bust the door open to a playoff spot.

Auburn’s road is just as simple but much more perilous. The Tigers close out the regular season with three home games, highlighted by visits from No. 1 Georgia this week and No. 2 Alabama two weeks later. Win out and the 10–2 Tigers would head to the SEC championship game for a rematch against Georgia, which has already clinched the SEC East. Win that, and an 11–2 SEC champion Auburn would present the playoff committee a résumé that includes wins over Alabama, Georgia (twice) and Mississippi State as well as a close loss to Clemson. If all that comes to pass, the Tigers would definitely be ahead of a potential two-loss Big Ten champ we mentioned above.

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