Every loss is magnified in college football, especially for ranked teams. Not only does their spot in the Top 25 change dramatically, but any national-title aspirations they had take a serious hit. That makes it tough to bounce back quickly.
It's also why the next game is often the most important one of the season. The team will either lose again, beginning a tailspin likely to derail the entire campaign, or get back in the win column and start moving back up the ladder.
Several elite teams came up on the losing end of their respective games last week. Let's take a look at three that will get back on track in Week 4.
Michigan State's offense was a no-show in the team's loss to Notre Dame. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell attempted 45 passes but tallied just 187 yards, and star running back Le'Veon Bell was unable to find any holes in the Fighting Irish defense.
The loss dropped the Spartans to No. 21 in the AP poll. The good news is they still have several games on the schedule to help get that ranking back up, but they have to take care of business against a lackluster Eastern Michigan squad first.
Since the Eagles have one of the worst defenses in the nation–allowing more than 40 points per game–they should be the perfect remedy to Michigan State's offensive woes. A big win should give the Spartans renewed confidence before facing Ohio State.
Can the Trojans still make the national title game?
If there was any doubt about Matt Barkley's importance to USC, it came to an end last week. The senior quarterback had a rare off game and the Trojans weren't able to overcome it, mostly due to struggles in the running game.
USC knows its national championship hopes are now in serious jeopardy. The Trojans will have to win out and get a lot of help from other teams along the way in order to end up inside the top two when the dust finally settles.
It all starts with a game against Cal on Saturday. The Golden Bears nearly upset Ohio State on the road last week, so it won't be an easy win for USC. As long as they don't let the Stanford loss linger, the Trojans will rebound with a victory.
It's tough to explain Virginia Tech's loss to Pittsburgh. The Hokies escaped a Week 1 battle with Georgia Tech in overtime and then crushed Austin Peay. They appeared ready to embark on a long winning streak and claim a spot in the top 10.
On the flip side, Pittsburgh had lost both of its games, including one to FCS opponent Youngstown State. Not only should Virginia Tech have won, it should have cruised. Instead, the defense got exposed and the Hokies lost by 18.
They can't worry about the missed opportunity, though. The best thing to do after a major disappointment like that is wipe the slate clean and start fresh. If the Hokies do that, they will beat Bowling Green with several more winnable games on the horizon.