Everybody can look at a team’s schedule and pick out the tough games. But can you recognize the “Trap Games?” Those are games that may not look difficult on the surface, but when combined with travel, the opponent the previous week, or some other factors, it becomes a game where the favored teams could trip up.
After looking through the SEC schedules, here are my recommendations for the Top five “Trap Games” for 2009. If you have some you think are better, feel free to share them:
1. Arkansas at Florida, Oct. 17: The Gators will be coming off a monster game at LSU the week before. If Florida wins the Gators will be 5-0 and still ranked No. 1. But they will also be pretty beat up after a very physical football game. If the game was in Fayetteville it would be extremely dangerous for Florida. But who thought Ole Miss was going to win The Swamp last year?
2. Tennessee at Alabama, Oct. 24: Under normal circumstances this would probably be a comfortable win for the Crimson Tide. But Alabama has the big showdown at Ole Miss on Oct. 10. Then the Tide hosts South Carolina on Oct. 17. Alabama will get a week off on Oct. 31 in order to rest up for the big home game with LSU on Nov. 7. But before that week off they host Tennessee. The Alabama players will be looking forward to that week off after playing eight straight Saturdays. Tennessee will be rested after a week off and Lane Kiffin will probably still be looking for his first big win. What better way to get it than to beat one of your oldest rivals?
3. Georgia at Arkansas, Sept. 19: Georgia will open the season with a difficult game at No. 11 Oklahoma State. Then they come home for what is always a tough game against South Carolina on Sept. 12. Then the Bulldogs have to get on a plane and go to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Hogs’ SEC opener. Arkansas will have had the previous week off to rest up. This is a dangerous game for Georgia.
4. LSU at Georgia, Oct. 3: This is not a trap game in the classic sense because it is a pretty even matchup and Georgia is playing a home. But it is a game where LSU could be clearly looking ahead when they get to Athens. LSU should be 4-0 and ranked in the top seven. And if Georgia stumbles a little out of the gate, it could be a game that the Bulldogs HAVE to win. Still, a lot of the talk that week in Baton Rouge will be about LSU’s home game with No. 1 Florida the following week. It’s silly to say that LSU will look past Georgia. But when you’re getting ready to play the defending national champs, it can sometimes be hard to keep your focus on the job at hand.
5. Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, Oct. 3: Vanderbilt knocked off Ole Miss 23-17 last season in Oxford. Vanderbilt returns 18 starters and is expected to be better this season. Ole Miss will go to Nashville the week before they host Alabama, which could be the biggest game in Oxford since Eli Manning’s last home game against LSU in 2003. The Rebels, who aren’t used to playing in such big games, could be easily distracted.
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