College Football Picks Week 3: Elite Teams Heading for a Reality Check

Chris StephensCorrespondent IISeptember 12, 2012

The USC Trojans will face a stiff test against Stanford this week.
The USC Trojans will face a stiff test against Stanford this week.Rich Schultz/Getty Images

It's reality check time for some elite teams in college football.

Southern California, Notre Dame and Texas have gotten away with cupcakes in their first two games of the season. However, this week, the three teams will get a reality check, as will others.

While the reality check won't result in losses for each, it will remind each that there's still a long way to go in the season.

So, who is in for a reality check this week?

Note: the Arkansas Razorbacks would have been on this list since they are facing Alabama this week. However, Louisiana-Monroe gave them a reality check last week. I figured it would be best to not pour salt on the wound.


Southern California

No. 2 USC comes into Saturday's road game at No. 21 Stanford having fended off a tough Syracuse team last week. The Trojans got a small dose of reality against the Orange last week, but I figure the Cardinal will be an even tougher test.

Although Stanford lost Andrew Luck from last year's team, they're still a team that you can't sleep on in the Pac-12. Yes, I say this even after the Cardinal squeaked by San Jose State in Week 1, 20-17.

Matt Barkley, who is an early Heisman favorite, will have to contend with cornerbacks Terrence Brown and Barry Browning covering his receivers. But, the one thing the Cardinal can't contend with is USC running back Silas Redd, a transfer from Penn State.

Redd has great field vision and will keep the Cardinal defense off-balance when he has the ball. This alone gives USC an advantage and should help it win the game.

Still, the Trojans are facing a tougher defense and will learn that other teams in the conference aren't simply going to hand them the conference title and BCS berth.


Notre Dame

The No. 20 Fighting Irish are another team that was put on alert last week as they squeezed out a 20-17 win over Purdue. This week, however, it gets much tougher as they head to East Lansing, Mich., to face Michigan State.

The Spartans are ranked No. 10 in the nation and feature running back LeVeon Bell, who already has 280 yards on the ground this year.

The Irish dominated Navy to open the season, but showed their ranking was a little higher than they deserved against Purdue last week. The Boilermakers haven't been in the Big Ten conversation for years, and they held their own against Notre Dame.

Does this mean Purdue is better than many expected? Not really.

The Irish have holes on both sides of the ball, and they will get a nice reality check Saturday night. My guess is that they'll come into Monday outside of the Top 25.



It's been more than three years since the Longhorns got their last crack at an SEC team. The date was Jan. 7, 2009. The game was for the BCS National Championship against Alabama. The result was a heartbreaking loss, 37-21.

You can bet the Longhorns have revenge on their minds this Saturday, although it's against a lesser (but tough) SEC opponent in Ole Miss.

Texas hasn't exactly set itself up for success in the Big 12 this year, with non-conference games against Wyoming and New Mexico having already taken place.

The Longhorns will, however, get a dose of reality against the Rebels, who will get after it on defense.

Texas quarterback David Ash needs to be on point throughout the game, or else the Ole Miss secondary will make him pay with interceptions.

Yes, Texas will get a dose of reality. But, will they be like USC and overcome that dose to still win the game? Or will they falter, like Notre Dame is expected to?



The Tennessee Volunteers had a lot of hype surrounding them at the beginning of the season. Then came the suspension of wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers.

The No. 23 Volunteers still have quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receiver Justin Hunter, but the No. 18 Florida Gators are in town for the "Third Saturday in September."

Tennessee has had it relatively easy against North Carolina State and Georgia State to start off the season. But you can expect the Gators to give the Volunteers more of a run for their money.

One area where the Volunteers have the advantage is at quarterback. Bray is a seasoned veteran, while Florida is still trying to figure out if Jeff Driskel is its guy.

If Driskel can prevent mistakes throwing the ball, the Gators will have success.

Florida has already had its reality check with Texas A&M—now it's Tennessee's turn.