One loss doesn't destroy anyone's season, but in the land of college football, two losses certainly can.
Especially when you're one of the elite programs in the country, one that expects to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll consistently, week after week. While a number of ranked squads played their way to victory this week, others were not as fortunate.
For these schools, a strong week of practice must be followed by near-perfect execution of their game plans and attention to detail if they hope to stop their slide down the national rankings, from contender to pretender, or even worse—to the land of the unranked.
LSU Tigers (5-1): Dropped Five Spots from No. 4 to No. 9
The Tigers knew that they were in trouble after managing only a pair of field goals in the first half against No. 10 Florida, and the Gators capitalized on their best defensive effort of the season to pull off a 14-6 upset at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.
LSU's vaunted defense had no answers for Gators senior running back Mike Gillislee, who carried the ball 34 times for a career-high 146 yards and a pair of 12-yard touchdowns, one in the third quarter to give Florida a 7-6 lead and another early in the fourth quarter that fully deflated the Tigers.
Things don't get any easier for the Tigers next week as they welcome the No. 3 South Carolina Gamecocks into Tiger Stadium, a South Carolina team that just embarrassed the then-No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs by a score of 35-7.
LSU's defense will have to be at the top of their game, as will QB Zach Mettenberger, who was an ineffective 11-of-25 for 158 yards and an interception against Florida, if they have any hopes of staying in the Top 10.
Florida State Seminoles (5-1): Dropped Nine Spots from No. 3 to No. 12
Nobody, including me, saw this one coming.
A 16-0 halftime lead for the Seminoles evaporated as the Wolfpack dropped 17 unanswered points on the Seminoles, including 14 in the fourth quarter en route to pulling off the 17-16 upset.
Entering the game, Florida State's defense was allowing only 11 points per game—the seventh-best mark in the country—and they limited the opposition to 201 total yards per game—third in the nation.
NC State piled up 325 yards of total offense, and their defense proved to be too much for a Seminoles offense that ranked sixth in scoring with 51 points per game and ninth in total offense, racking up 544 yards per game.
Next up for Florida State is a 1-4 Boston College team that they should have no problems with—but we said the same thing about NC State, and look where that got us.
Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher will need to make sure that his team learns from their mistakes and is fully prepared to execute his game plan on Sunday. Another loss to an unranked opponent will crush any chances they have of not only remaining ranked, but remaining relevant in the college football landscape in 2012.
Texas Longhorns (4-1): Dropped Four Spots from No. 11 to No. 15
There's no shame in losing a close game to a high-powered West Virginia Mountaineers squad that is led by Heisman Trophy favorite Geno Smith, but the Longhorns can ill afford a repeat performance against Landry Jones and the No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday afternoon.
West Virginia torched the Longhorns defense for 460 yards, with Smith picking up 268 through the air to go along with four touchdown passes while sophomore running back Andrew Buie racked up 207 yards and two scores on 31 carries.
Oklahoma's offense ranks 28th in the nation with 463.75 yards per game, and they are averaging 38.25 points per game, 24th overall.
The Longhorns defense will need a strong week of practice if they hope to slow down the Sooners' attack and remain in the hunt for a Big 12 crown.
AP Top 25 Poll (via ESPN)
1. Alabama (60)
3. South Carolina
5. West Virginia
6. Kansas State
7. Notre Dame
8. Ohio State
10. Oregon State
12. Florida State
19. Mississippi State
22. Texas A&M
23. Louisiana Tech
24. Boise State