As a football fan, there is one game that seems a bit scarier than any other: The game your team should dominate.
It is one thing if your team is a favorite. Favorites lose all of the time, as shown by the few number of undefeated teams in NFL history, or even NCAA history.
But when a team is expected to roll over another team, it is another matter. Those games cannot be won.
If your team dominates, it is no big deal because, well, they were supposed to kill the opponent. On the other hand, any struggle gets magnified and analyzed. A double digit victory is not enough, especially if that first digit is a one.
That is the problem the California Golden Bears face Saturday when they take on Washington State. Wazzu comes into the game as 35.5 point underdogs. They can cover the spread by losing by five touchdowns. Those are low expectations, and often the formula for a trap game.
I do not see this as a genuine trap game, primarily because Cal has already all-but killed it's chances at playing in January. The overall stakes are not what they need to be for a trap game in that Cal has nothing to look ahead to (not to be mistaken for "nothing to look forward to," which could still be a bowl game).
Cal's next game is against Arizona State, a team who's 2-1 conference record comes at the expense of the state of Washington.
So my fears are more based around Cal not playing up to expectations. This is the sort of game where the Bears should put them away early and coast to an easy win. But, if Wazzu, a team playing with no abandon that knows it is not supposed to have a chance, overachieves while the Bears sleepwalk, it could be quite an embarrassing affair, even if Cal walks away with the W.
Of course, things could even end up worse than that. There are somethings you just cannot even think about. Unfortunately, that is usually how you fall into a trap.
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