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AP Top 25: Top contenders face crucial week in season

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Florida State's vice grip on the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 appears to be slipping. In the latest AP poll, Oregon and Alabama continue to chip away at Florida State's first-place vote totals. The top seven remains intact from the previous week's poll and the week before that, too.

If you're anxious to see some noticeable shakeup among the top-25 teams, this could be the week. The fun starts Thursday, when Oregon hosts Arizona. If you recall, the Wildcats thrashed the Ducks last season, ending Oregon's hopes and dreams of capturing the national championship. Elsewhere, season-defining games await a number of contenders. Alabama hits the road to play Ole Miss, TCU hosts Oklahoma, Auburn hosts LSU, Texas A&M will visit Mississippi State, Stanford goes to South Bend to take on Notre Dame, Nebraska plays at Michigan State and USC hosts Arizona State. This weekend would be a good one to set aside a good chunk of time to consume college football games.

Best sidestory of this season's AP Top 25: North Dakota State -- the pride of Fargo and the three-time defending FCS national champions -- continues to receive votes.

The AP poll is voted on by sportswriters. While the placement of teams can oftentimes generate some heightened discussion among fans, it is necessary to note that the AP poll is for recreation purposes only. In contrast to the BCS era (or the pre-BCS era when the poll actually determined national champions), the AP poll no longer factors into the mathematics of which teams get to play for the national championship. Complicated formulas factoring in polls and computer rankings have zero bearing on the four-team College Football Playoff field, which instead will be determined by a 13-person selection committee, the first of which will be released on Oct. 28 (mark your calendars!).

The entire order of the AP poll:

Others receiving votes: Arizona State 97, South Carolina 61, Clemson 52, Arizona 43, Marshall 40, Georgia Tech 37, West Virginia 24, Arkansas 18, Maryland 5, Louisville 4, North Dakota State 3, Washington 2, North Carolina State 1, Virginia 1.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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