College Football's Top 25 Trap Games of 2012

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2012

College Football's Top 25 Trap Games of 2012

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    What makes college football so much fun to watch is that anything can truly happen on any given Saturday.

    College football fans have been witnessing upsets season after season and for the most part, these upsets seem to come out of nowhere.

    This year, teams need to be on alert as most of these upsets tend to happen in the form of a trap game. Simply put, a trap game is a game on a team's schedule that tends to get lost among all of the other games a team is playing. 

    These games can happen before a big rivalry, after an emotional game or at the end of a brutal stretch of schedule. 

    Here is a look at the 25 biggest trap games in 2012. 

No. 25: Ohio State vs Cal (September 15)

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    Ohio State is getting ready to start a season in which they may lack a lot of motivation since the postseason has been taken away from them in 2012. 

    Early on, the Buckeyes have a couple of easy games at home against UCF and UAB, but right in the middle of those games is a visit from Cal. What the Buckeyes need to remember is, while they may be out of the running for a bowl game, other teams still will be gunning for them all season long. 

No. 24: TCU vs Kansas State (November 10)

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    Late October is not kind to TCU. Towards the end of the month, the Horned Frogs go on the road to play Oklahoma State and West Virginia in back-to-back weeks. 

    While Kansas State is not a team that should sneak up on them, TCU needs to remain mentally focused because, at this point, they will likely be showing signs of fatigue. 

No. 23: Stanford vs Washington State (October 27)

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    Despite the loss of Andrew Luck, Stanford still has high hopes of competing for the Pac-12 title. Towards the middle of the season, the Cardinal have to play both Notre Dame and then Cal in back-to-back weeks.

    While both of those games will be challenging, they then follow it up with a game at home against Washington State. The Cougars are now led by head coach Mike Leach and will truly challenge the Cardinal secondary.

No. 22: Wisconsin at Nebraska (September 29)

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    After playing a relatively easy out-of-conference schedule, the Badgers get to be a part of the Big Ten schedule by playing on the road against Nebraska. 

    The level of talent will take a huge step up in this contest, and if Wisconsin and new quarterback Danny O'Brien are not ready, they will get the hammer dropped on them by the Huskers. 

No. 21: South Carolina at Florida (October 20)

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    South Carolina is another team that will be fighting all year long for a chance to go to the SEC title game. Midway through the month of October, the Gamecocks will be tested by returning SEC champ LSU. 

    While the game against LSU will be tough, South Carolina will get to show how focused they can be as the following week has them heading on the road to the Swamp.

No. 20: Auburn at Vanderbilt (October 20)

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    After winning the 2010 national title, Auburn had a bit of a setback last year and are hoping to return to form in 2012. 

    When looking at the schedule, the Tigers know that, towards the end of October, they will host SEC newcomer Texas A&M. The game figures to be a battle, but the Tigers cannot overlook the previous week's game on the road against Vanderbilt, a team that is improving and starting to turn things around. 

No. 19: Michigan State vs Iowa (October 13)

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    Michigan State certainly has the defensive talent to win the Big Ten. This year, the real question mark will be their offense. 

    Lately, the Spartans have had some struggles with the Hawkeyes, and with Michigan and Wisconsin to follow this game, the Spartans must bring their best. 

No. 18: Alabama at Missouri (October 13)

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    Many expect that Alabama will once again compete for the SEC and national title. This year, Alabama will take on new conference opponent Missouri and will do so on the road.

    While not many Nick Saban teams have looked past their current opponent, Alabama needs to stay focused during this game because the Tigers are a team playing to prove something and could stun the nation with an upset win. 

No. 17: Virginia Tech at Miami (November 1)

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    Virginia Tech knows that their focus this season must be on finding a way to beat Clemson. Last year, the Tigers beat the Hokies twice and kept them from winning the ACC. 

    After playing Clemson on the road, Virginia Tech stays on the road the following week and plays Miami. While the Hurricanes are not as good as most would expect, their defense could be tough on the Hokies if they do not show up focused. 

No. 16: Boise State at Hawaii (November 10)

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    Boise State is in a season of transition but still has the potential to have a great year. 

    Late in the season, the Broncos play a tough game against San Diego State, but the trap is in the week following. The week after, they head on the road to play Hawaii, and if the Broncos get lost in the setting of the game, they will leave the island without a win. 

No. 15: Florida at Tennessee (September 15)

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    While it should be hard for Florida to look past Tennessee, this is a situation in which they likely will. 

    Early in the season, Florida has the task of playing on the road at Texas A&M. After getting their first dose of the Aggies, the Gators have to turn right around and head to Knoxville.

    Watch as one loss could quickly spiral into two.  

No. 14: USC at Arizona (October 27)

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    While there are not many challenges on the USC schedule before facing Oregon, one challenge that they cannot avoid is the mental one that they will have against Arizona.

    In the week before playing the Ducks, USC will start to hear the hype about the game and what it means. They will need to block that out when they head to Arizona because it has trap game written all over it. 

No. 13: Georgia vs Tennessee (September 29)

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    Georgia returns with a lot of solid talent and hopes to make another run at the SEC title game. Like last year, their major competition for that chance will come from South Carolina. 

    With all of the attention on the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs need to make sure that the week before that game, the Vols don't sneak into town and leave with a crushing win. 

No. 12: Florida State at South Florida (September 29th)

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    Florida State is entering the season with lofty expectations and for good reason. Early on in the year, the Seminoles get tested by Clemson and are hoping to avenge last year's loss.

    While the game against Clemson will be tough, the following week could be a trap game for them. 

    After expending the energy to play a top team, the Seminoles head on the road to play South Florida. The Bulls have the ability to pull off the upset, and with the game being at home for South Florida, the odds go up even more.

No. 11: Texas A&M at SMU (September 15)

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    Texas A&M had the unique challenge of hanging on to any second-half lead that they came across in 2011. This year, the Aggies move over to the SEC and are hoping that the second half woes did not follow them. 

    Early on in their new conference, the Aggies face the Gators in an interesting conference tilt. What the Aggies must watch out for is, the following week, they will play an underrated SMU team that certainly has the chance of beating them at home. 

No. 10: Michigan vs Air Force (September 8)

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    Just a week after playing Alabama, Michigan returns home from a game that likely will give them a 0-1 start to the season. After playing a more physical Crimson Tide team, Michigan will need to snap to it with the Air Force in town. 

    If Michigan is unable to shake either the hangover of a loss or the overconfidence of a win, the Falcons could make things really uncomfortable at the Big House.

No. 9: Oregon at Washington State (September 29)

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    Much like USC, Oregon expects to head to Southern California undefeated and looks to exact revenge on the Trojans. Before any of that can happen, the Ducks must get past obstacles, like a road game against Washington State.

    In this late September game, the Cougars will be playing their first conference game and will have not revealed much to this point. This is a game that could prove to be very dangerous for the Ducks.

No. 8: Clemson at Wake Forest (October 25th)

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    Clemson ran through the first part of their schedule last year and it wasn't until late in the season before they started to run into issues. This year, the Tigers play Virginia Tech at home and hope to continue their dominance over them.

    The trap for the Tigers comes the following week at Wake Forest. Clemson has to find a way to refocus after a huge game or the Demon Deacons could start their late season slide early. 

No. 7: West Virginia at Oklahoma State (November 10)

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    West Virginia is new to the conference this year, and it could bring its own unique challenges. Many believe that the Mountaineers could be a team that could win the Big 12, but a game at home against Oklahoma will be a big test.

    Before they can get to that game, West Virginia must get through a road game against the Cowboys that is being played the week before they take on the Sooners.

No. 6: Oklahoma at Iowa State (November 3)

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    Oklahoma is hoping that, with the return of Landry Jones for his senior season, the Sooners will once again be able to compete for the national title. 

    Late in October, the Sooners take on Notre Dame in an intriguing out-of-conference game that will certainly gain a lot of attention. What the Sooners must make sure is that the Cyclones get their full attention because everyone remembers what happened to Oklahoma State last year when they played Iowa State on the road.

No. 5: USC at Stanford (September 15)

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    The Trojans enter the season with lofty expectations and with good reason. When you look at the schedule it appears that USC should have little issue with being undefeated in November when they play Oregon, but Stanford may have something to say about that. 

    Despite the loss of Andrew Luck, Stanford still has a great power running game and tough defense, and with this game being played at Stanford, the Cardinal will have their best shot of upsetting the Trojans. 

No. 4: Arkansas at Mississippi State (November 17)

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    Last year LSU took advantage of playing at home and took down Arkansas. This year, the series shifts back to Arkansas and the Razorbacks hope to be ready.

    While beating LSU will be on their mind, Arkansas has a road date with Mississippi State the week before and must make sure that they are not looking past a very winnable game, or bad things could happen. 

No. 3: Oregon at Cal (November 10)

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    One week after playing USC, Oregon has to stay on the road to play Cal. Many believe that the winner of the USC/Oregon game could potentially end up playing for the national title.

    Entering this game, the Ducks could either be sky high or feeling down after a huge loss, but regardless, the last couple of times the Ducks have played at Cal have been tough games and could give them difficulty.

No. 2: LSU vs Mississippi State (November 10)

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    LSU has quite the schedule and in late October and early November it gets turned up a notch.

    During that period of time, the Tigers play against Texas A&M and Alabama. What the Tigers have to guard against is, after playing top talent, not allowing themselves to have a letdown the following week against Mississippi State.

No. 1: Arkansas vs Rutgers (September 22)

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    Arkansas knows that last year Alabama and LSU both stood in their way of potentially winning the SEC. This year, the Hogs get to play them both at home and will be charged up for each game.

    Early in the year, the Razorbacks take on Alabama with a shot at redemption. Regardless of how the game goes, Arkansas will either be pumped up or deflated for the following week against Rutgers, a team that could sneak up and surprise them.