AP Top 25: Season-defining stretch for Alabama

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Ohio State moved up five spots, and Baylor and Arizona State each moved up four spots apiece in the latest AP Top 25 poll after all three earned huge wins Saturday. Mississippi State and Florida State, meanwhile, continue to enjoy a stranglehold on the top two spots in the rankings.

Predictably, Auburn -- in the unfamiliar spot of being on the wrong end of some late-game theatrics against Texas A&M -- fell six spots, from No. 3 to No. 9. The Tigers also experienced the same drop in the latest CFB 24/7 Top 25 Power Rankings. Auburn's in-state rivals, Alabama, figures to benefit most from the Tigers' misfortune.

It might have been too much to ask of the football gods for Auburn AND Alabama to both lose on the same day. Instead, Alabama narrowly escaped Baton Rouge with an overtime win over LSU. Alabama was in the uncomfortable No. 5 spot when the College Football Playoff selection committee released its updated rankings last week. The Crimson Tide figure to be included in the final four this time around. Alabama hosts Mississippi State on Saturday, and the loser could be eliminated from playoff contention. This is a season-defining eight days for the Crimson Tide.

While Ohio State might have damaged the Big Ten's best shot at a spot in the four-team playoff by crushing Michigan State, the Pac-12 (Oregon and Arizona State) and Big 12 (TCU and Baylor) appear to have multiple bona fide playoff contenders.

The entire order of the AP poll:

Others receiving votes: Oklahoma 85, Texas A&M 83, Missouri 68, USC 47, Minnesota 26, Louisville 12, West Virginia 6, Stanford 4, Boise State 1, Georgia Southern 1, Miami (Fla.) 1.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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