College Football Rankings Week 3: USC and Teams That Will Take Biggest Slide

Ben Stepansky@@benstepanskyCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2012

Matt Barkley and USC will drop out of the Top 5
Matt Barkley and USC will drop out of the Top 5Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It is hard to imagine that Week 3 is already behind us in the college football season. Entering Week 4, the AP rankings will be shaken up with multiple Top 25 teams taking difficult losses on Saturday, most noticeably the USC Trojans.

Upsets are an exciting aspect of college football but difficult to swallow for a highly-touted team such as the Trojans.

The top team in the AP preseason rankings and led by senior quarterback Matt Barkley, USC dropped to the No. 2 rank after Week 1, leapfrogged by powerhouse Alabama. The team from SoCal is now anticipating a drop out of the top five after their 21-14 loss to No. 21 Stanford.

It would not be surprising to see USC move as far down as No. 10. Their loss to Stanford was the school's fourth-straight loss to their California mates from up north. 

The Trojans led 14-7 at halftime, despite a mistake-ridden second quarter, which featured three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble). 

Barkley could not find a rhythm and put up his worst statistical game this season, throwing two picks and no touchdowns. The running game could not establish itself either, gaining 26 net total rushing yards, which was skewed by Barkley's negative 42 rushing yards due to five sacks.

Stanford's go-ahead touchdown pass from Josh Nunes came with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter, but USC had no answer.


Michigan State Spartans

No. 10-ranked Michigan State were ousted by No. 20-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 20-3 at home.

The Spartan offense decided not to show up on Saturday and was unable to sustain a drive longer than 49 yards the entire game.

However, other than the two touchdown drives and one 84-yard drive ending in a field goal by the Irish, the Michigan State defense played well on Saturday. Notre Dame was forced to punt the ball eight times and were held to a third-down efficiency of 7 percent (1/14). 

Nonetheless, there were more negatives than positives for the Michigan State team who will drop out of the top ten—likely to somewhere between the No. 18 and No. 25 spots.


Virginia Tech Hokies

Four turnovers and a defense that let them down early, the No. 13 Hokies slipped up in a game they should have won.

Virginia Tech, a contender for the ACC Title every year, received a rude awakening from new ACC mates Pittsburgh, losing 35-17.

Pittsburg, who had scored just 17 and 10 points in its first two games, found themselves up 21-0 early into the second quarter. They were able to move the ball through the air and on the ground. Quarterback Tino Sunseri passed for 283 yards and three touchdowns while running back Rushel Shell rushed for 157 yards.

Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas was careless with the ball and as a result the Hokies will hope to cling to a Top 25 spot when the new rankings come out on Sunday night.


Tennessee Volunteers

It was a tale of two halves during No. 23-ranked Tennessee's match up against No. 18-ranked Florida.

The storied SEC rivalry produced another great football game as the Volunteers led at halftime 14-10.

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel and the Gators offense exploded in the second half for 27 points, while their defense held Tennessee to a single touchdown. Florida won 37-20.

Tennessee is looking at their first drop out of the Top 25 since they gained a spot after their Week 1 win over NC State.