Nebraska Football: Huskers' Biggest Trap Games in 2014

Erin Sorensen@erinsorensenContributor IJuly 17, 2014

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 16: A flag is displayed after the Nebraska Cornhuskers score against the Michigan State Spartans during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

Head coach Bo Pelini and Nebraska football are familiar with trap games. The Cornhuskers have fallen victim to them before and the 2014 season presents new opportunities for the team to fall victim to them once again.

But what exactly is a trap game?

It's a difficult concept to define, according to Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders. Kevin Meers of The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective summed it up best as "the mushy understanding that sometimes good teams lose to bad teams when they have a 'bigger' game against a better opponent the following week."

When it comes to the 2014 season, Nebraska does have trap games that could derail an otherwise successful season quickly.

Fresno State (Sept. 13)

At first glance, it wouldn't seem like Fresno State would be a trap game for Nebraska. Following a strong 2013 season, the Bulldogs made it clear the Huskers couldn't rest easy for this game.

After all, Fresno State spent many weeks in the Top 25, while also becoming a BCS threat for a period of time.

However, the big Miami game follows Fresno State. Fans are already talking about the possibility that ESPN's College GameDay will roll into town for the matchup.

The Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel was even writing about the possibility last February.

Needless to say, people are excited for Nebraska and Miami to face off once again. That's what makes Fresno State even more dangerous.

Being on the road for a game that will kick off at 10:30 p.m. ET already presents challenges for the Huskers.

The fact that the Hurricanes will be right on the heels of Fresno State makes this the trap game of the season for Nebraska.

Northwestern (Oct. 18)

This likely doesn't feel like a trap game for most 'Husker fans.

After securing a victory against Northwestern at home with a last-minute Hail Mary touchdown pass in 2013, it seems like Nebraska should have the confidence to lock up this win.

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

However, that Hail Mary is almost the main reason this could be a trap game. Northwestern will be fired up. Plus, the Wildcats will get to host the Huskers on their turf.

The last time Nebraska was in Evanston, Illinois, it barely squeaked out a 29-28 victory.

Moreover, in all honesty, the Huskers haven't had the most impressive showings against Northwestern over the last three years. For whatever reason, the Wildcats seem to get the best of Nebraska.

Nebraska vs. Northwestern (Since Joining Big Ten)

Nebraska may stack up better against Northwestern in 2014, but the fact that it's a road game following a bye week does the Huskers no favors. This matchup could absolutely fall into the category of a trap game.

Rutgers (Oct. 25)

The last time Nebraska played Rutgers, it was 1920 and the Huskers won 28-0. Almost a century later, the two will finally meet again.

Rutgers may not seem like a tough opponent at first glance. In fact, one of the two newest additions to the Big Ten could be an easy victory for the Huskers. It could also quickly turn into a mess if Pelini isn't careful.

Mel Evans/Associated Press

Rutgers follows Northwestern, which could test Nebraska. Depending on how that game goes, the Huskers may not be fully focused for the Scarlet Knights.

The good news? Purdue follows Rutgers, so the Huskers shouldn't be too worried about looking forward at that point. However, Wisconsin (at Camp Randall) is two weeks after the Rutgers matchup, so there's a chance Nebraska might start preparing for that well in advance.

If so, Rutgers (and Purdue) could easily be overlooked on the schedule.

There's also the simple fact that this is a new opponent. That would present a challenge to any team.


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