College Football 2012 Schedules: The 25 Biggest Trap Games
While talent and execution are a large part of winning football games, focus is a key component for teams playing rigorous schedules riddled with hated rivals.
When one casually peruses the 2012 schedule, these are the games that jump out as potential pitfalls for the favored squad.
Not only are the traditional "trap games" included, where a team faces a rival or a tough matchup and falters going into the contest, but also some games that might be termed "upsets."
In no particular order, here are the top 25 games that have the potential to be "traps."
Clemson at Wake Forest: TBA
Even with a depleted offensive line and coming off of an embarrassing bowl loss, the Tigers should be competitive in the ACC Atlantic division.
Tajh Boyd is a good quarterback, especially when he has such options as receiver Sammy Watkins catching the ball.
The only reason this one made the list is because, while we don't know when it will be, the Tigers should be favored.
Wake at home is a different proposition right now than they have been in recent seasons, as proven by their mediocrity rather than absolute failure in 2011.
Clemson will have a tougher time with this game than most people expect.
Arkansas State at Nebraska: Sept. 15, 2012
Crazy it may seem, but this Arkansas State squad has some great talent.
And the Huskers were not exactly overwhelming in their football excellence in 2011.
The Red Wolves quarterback, Ryan Aplin, could show Taylor Martinez a thing or two about passing the ball, and he also has the ability to make a difference with his feet.
While the Huskers should win this one going away, if they think of ASU as just another Sun Belt pushover, Gus Malzahn's new squad will pull off the biggest upset of the year.
North Carolina at Louisville: 9/15/12
If UNC winds up playing football to the level at which they are capable of performing, they will find themselves near the top of the ACC standings.
The non-conference slate comes first, however, including this one against a young, talented Louisville team.
The Cardinals are the most talented team in the Big East, which isn't really saying much, but guys such as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater give this team the potential to win consistently.
UNC should be favored in this one, but will not find it easy going against Louisville.
West Virginia at Oklahoma State: Nov. 10, 2012
West Virginia is in for a long season, and it remains to be seen whether the rigors of a Big 12 schedule will be manageable for Dana Holgorsen's squad.
They have a particularly daunting stretch in November, when they must face TCU and the two Oklahoma schools in back-to-back-to-back weeks.
In the middle of that stretch is a game against Oklahoma State, a team without their dynamic receiver and quarterback, Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden.
The 'Eers will have their hands full, especially if they are looking ahead to Oklahoma.
BYU at Notre Dame: Oct. 20, 2012
BYU is underrated.
Their defense is very, very solid, and if Bronco Mendenhall gets solid production from quarterback Riley Melson, this team will be tough to beat.
Throw in the fact that Notre Dame hosts BYU the week before a trip to Oklahoma, and you have the potential for this one to trip up the Irish.
Nebraska at Michigan State: Nov. 3, 2012
Even though this one is in East Lansing, Sparty fans have reason to be concerned.
It's the last of four games that are all going to be tough, against Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin.
MSU is going to be beat up by the time this game arrives, and anything less than a great all-around game will mean a loss.
The Huskers will be amped up, their young players from last year have grown and Taylor Martinez will figure out how to pass the ball accurately past three yards downfield.
All of these, in combination with the brutal schedule, make this a potential letdown game for MSU.
Oklahoma at West Virginia: Nov. 17, 2012
Granted, the season has not even begun, so we are not exactly positive what these teams' records will look like going into this game.
Both of them, however, are likely to be Top 15 teams, and just because West Virginia moved over from the Big Least does not mean they cannot play football.
Just ask Clemson.
Mountaineers Field is not a good place to visit, and the Sooners had better be prepared for WVU's ridiculous aerial assault.
Ohio State at Wisconsin: Nov. 17, 2012
The Buckeyes have their two most hated opponents back to back to wrap up the season.
Wisconsin, even without Russell Wilson, still has the talent to make some noise in the Big Ten race.
That said, Ohio State will have their work cut out for them in this one, and with Michigan on the slate in the next game, they may find themselves looking past UW.
Hopefully we can keep Bret Bielema and E. Gordon Gee separated.
Iowa at Michigan: Nov. 7, 2012
Iowa has plagued Michigan in recent seasons, and if the Wolverines are looking ahead to their meeting with Ohio State, they will make life miserable once again.
James Vandenberg is a solid QB for the Hawkeyes, who will hopefully have some consistency at the running back and wide receiver positions by this point in the season.
Ohio State is always the biggest game of the year for the Wolverines, no exceptions, and Iowa will have the opportunity to take advantage of that.
Arkansas at Texas A&M: Sept. 29, 2012
Tyler Wilson is, arguably, the best quarterback in the SEC.
The Hogs are a sleeper to win the West division title away from LSU/Alabama, especially with a defense that keeps improving.
However, this trip to Kyle Field must not be overlooked.
The Aggies, in spite of some attrition, are still a good football team with the potential to beat anybody.
Tennessee at Georgia: Sept. 29, 2012
Georgia is being talked about as a contender for the SEC title, with the potential to make the BCS title game.
This is a legit ambition for this team, especially playing in the SEC East.
They face no Alabama, no LSU, but they do face Tennessee.
The Vols and quarterback Tyler Bray will not breeze into Athens and run away with the game.
However, they do have the talent to give the Bulldogs a scare, especially if they play poorly at home in this one, which they seem to do at least once a season.
Texas A&M at La. Tech: Aug. 30, 2012
Texas A&M will be looking ahead to their time in the SEC.
The Bulldogs have tons of experienced talent that knows how to play ball.
Mix them together with A&M's new players at several skill positions, and this one could be a dangerous matchup for the Aggies.
La. Tech quarterback Colby Cameron showed the ability to dominate games in 2011, and will come up big again next season.
Will the Aggies overlook a WAC team?
Wisconsin at Purdue: Oct. 13, 2012
Any game on the road against a conference foe is tough.
Purdue is going to be a tough row to hoe for the Badgers.
Wisconsin loses some talent, and must face rival Minnesota the week after this one.
If Bret Bielema doesn't have his team focused on the Boilers, they will find themselves with a tough "L."
Ohio at Penn State: Sept. 1, 2012
Penn State will still be trying to recover and get things back to some level of normalcy in Happy Valley.
The Bobcats have a chance at knocking them off.
Tyler Tettleton, Ohio's young quarterback, is incredibly talented, with the ability to make passes all over the field, as well as take off and do damage with his legs.
It's tough to see this one happening, but if Penn State is lagging behind a little bit, Tettleton is the guy to take advantage.
Miami (OH) at Cincinnati: Oct. 6, 2012
Cincinnati loses their leading rusher and passer, but returns quarterback Munchie Legaux, who played plenty of time last season in the absence of the Bearcats starter.
This one qualifies for this list because of the BCS/non-BCS matchup.
The Bearcats should be favored, in spite of their losses, but Miami is one of the more talented teams in the MAC.
Quarterback Zac Dysert has the physical tools to disrupt defensive game plans, and will make life miserable for the Cincy defense.
Florida State at NC State: TBA
Florida State is going to be one of the better teams in the ACC.
NC State—not so much.
But the Wolfpack do have Mike Glennon, one of a plethora of good quarterbacks that will be featured in the ACC this season.
If Glennon and the Wolfpack are going to knock off one of the better teams in the conference, this is as good an opportunity as any.
Iron Bowl: Jan. 24, 2012
Call me crazy for picking one of the biggest rivalries in sports, but hear me out first.
The Tide have the talent to make another run at the top of the SEC.
Auburn is still young and has limited experience, which will lead to some tough losses, knocking them from the conference title race.
Going into the Iron Bowl, expect the Tigers to give the Tide all they can handle if Nick Saban's team thinks they can coast.
Boise State at Wyoming: TBA
This isn't the Boise State team to which we have grown accustomed.
Kellen Moore is gone, and Wyoming is a better team than you might think.
Quarterback Brett Smith has a great arm, and can do some damage on the ground as well.
The Broncos have lost one heartbreaking conference game each of the past two seasons, and this might be the one in 2012.
Utah at Utah State: Sept. 8, 2012
The Utes have the talent in their second Pac-12 season to make a run at the title game.
Beating USC is a tall order, but other than the Trojans, the Utes will have little difficulty with the rest of the South Division.
If they can nail down the quarterback situation, whether it be Jordan Wynn or somebody else, this team will be very, very solid.
Their non-conference slate, however, features a little rivalry known as "The Holy War" between Utah and BYU.
The week before this little meeting, the Utes have a rivalry game against Utah State, who was no pushover in 2011 and figures to be stout again in the upcoming season.
Virginia Tech at North Carolina: TBA
North Carolina is a sleeper in the ACC race.
Virginia Tech's place at the top of the ACC is nearly as sure as death and taxes.
Frank Beamer's defense is going to be very solid, returning 10 starters to a defense that has the ability to shut opponents down.
However, they might find North Carolina tough to slow.
Gio Bernard and Bryn Renner form an extremely productive backfield, and have the talent on the defensive side of the ball to disrupt game plans.
The Hokies will need to be focused for this trip away from home.
La. Tech at Virginia: Sept. 29, 2012
Virginia will be home for this one, but they must not get complacent.
The Bulldogs won the WAC last season behind the play of quarterback Colby Cameron, and he is returning, along with receiver Quinton Patton. While the Cavaliers are playing better football, this is not a matchup they should overlook.
Mike London's team is trying to take the next step up the college football food chain, and being prepared for good non-BCS foes is part of that equation.
Boise State at Michigan State: Aug. 31, 2012
This is pretty obvious.
The Broncos have been terrorizing BCS foes for years now, and Michigan State appears to be next on the list.
Not so fast, my friends.
The Spartans defense is scary good, and this one is on their home turf.
The Broncos' 2012 season will start with a loss if they consider this an easy win.
Purdue at Notre Dame: Sept. 8, 2012
Purdue is an enigma.
They have the talent on offense to score points, but not with any sort of consistency.
The defense is stout, and Danny Hope has been able to bring in some solid recruits.
This is going to be a tough one for the Irish, as they will be playing in Dublin, Ireland, the week before and must travel to Michigan State Sept. 15.
Brian Kelly's team has the talent to make a run at the Top 15, and they will need it all against Purdue when they get back to the States.
Alabama at Tennessee: Oct. 20, 2012
Tennessee is going to be good next season.
Derek Dooley has done a fantastic job of recruiting, and quarterback Tyler Bray will be back from injury to lead the offense.
The Vols catch Alabama at the end of the toughest stretch on their schedule: back-to-back road games against Missouri and Tennessee, with Mississippi State and LSU next on the schedule.
Tennessee is going to pull off at least one upset in 2012, and the Tide might be ripe for the picking in this one.
Oklahoma at TCU: Dec. 1 2012
Don't overlook TCU.
The Horned Frogs, in spite of the recent issues involving drugs, are loaded with talent.
Casey Pachall has the weapons to have a very productive season, and this defense is stout.
On top of all that, the Sooners will be coming off of what will be two tough contests against West Virginia and Oklahoma State.
Given Landry Jones' penchant for tossing picks on the road, OU will find TCU no pushover.