A trap game is a game you overlook. A team gets caught looking ahead or, perhaps, resting on its laurels. Short rest. An underrated and difficult away trip could also be factors. Here are 10 potential ones to keep an eye on heading into 2013. If not for upsets, at least for spread betting. (Obligatory Admiral Ackbar Link)
Ohio State [vs. Purdue, Nov. 2] Ohio State gets Purdue on the road after four (at the very least) physical games against Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa and Penn State. Purdue has won four of six at home against the Buckeyes since 2000. They were a fourth down stop away from winning a fifth in 2002. They nearly picked off Ohio State in Columbus last year. Darrell Hazell, a former OSU assistant, is familiar with the defensive personnel. One to keep an eye on, potentially.
Stanford [ vs. Cal, Nov. 23] Your biggest rival does not meet the classic definition of a trap game. But Stanford faces Cal after Oregon/USC and before Notre Dame. The game is late in the season, with Sonny Dykes having time to implement the Bear Raid. Stanford, despite recent success, has not beaten Cal by more than one score at home this century.
Clemson [ at Maryland Oct. 26] Clemson plays N.C. State at night on a short week. But they will be prepared for that. Optimum “Clemson” potential is against Maryland. The Terps, considering their atrocious injury run at quarterback and elsewhere, were not that far off from being a bowl team. They have a decent enough defense and a home run threat in Stefon Diggs. Perhaps they catch an undefeated Clemson coming out flat after an emotional Florida State win at home.
Florida [at Missouri Oct. 19] Missouri was sneaky not that bad last year and nearly caught the Gators in Gainesville. Florida faces them after a road trip to LSU in a look ahead spot to Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina after the bye. Poor at playing from behind, an early young man touchdown or two could make this game interesting.
LSU [at Mississippi State Oct. 5] We’re not high on Mississippi State this year. That said, LSU plays this game after Georgia and before Florida/Ole Miss in consecutive weeks. The game is in Starkville (home dogs in the SEC, you guys). Les Miles’ roller coaster always has its dips. Mullen’s record against bowl-bound SEC West teams is atrocious, but, maybe, this is where LSU limps away with a 13-10 win.
Notre Dame [at Air Force Oct. 26] The Irish will be beaten up over a stretch of at Michigan, at Purdue, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Arizona State (N) and at USC. Looking fora respite, they get Air Force, on the road, at altitude. The triple option can be a bear for defenses at the best of times. Notre Dame’s will struggle putting teams away. This one is worth keeping an eye on.
Michigan [at Iowa Nov. 23] This game is sandwiched for Michigan between a rough three-game stretch (MSU, Neb, NW) and Ohio State. It’s on the road, where Michigan lost under Hoke in 2011. It’s conceivable, with better health, Iowa could bounce back to moderately decent. Late November Big 10 weather could force a worn down Michigan to slog it on the ground against a stolid Iowa run defense.
Texas [at West Virginia Nov. 9] This is a long away trip for Texas. It’s a look ahead spot before Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers were feisty against good teams at home in 2012. Holgorsen, one of the game’s brightest offensive minds, will have a better handle on both his personnel and Texas’ defense. The Longhorns could be 8-0 and in full flush heading into an unexpected shootout.
Nebraska [at Penn State Nov. 23] The Cornhuskers will be gasping after games against Northwestern and Michigan, while Penn State has a soft run into this game. It will be Senior Day in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions have nothing else to play for but pride. Taylor Martinez throwing in bad weather. This game could prove closer than expected.
Baylor [at Kansas Oct. 26] Baylor has a soft early schedule, followed by all five Texas/Oklahoma programs to close the season. Before that stretch, the Bears play Kansas on the road. Despite stinking, some very good teams labored to beat Kansas in Lawrence. Modest upside with JUCO talent in 2013 is better than no upside. It’s conceivable Kansas could shock someone.
[Photos via USA Today Sports, Getty]