September is college football’s month for a whole bunch of tune-ups and the occasionally compelling non-conference game.
According to my calendar, however, Saturday marks the first day of October. That means the trap games are coming.
We’ve seen it all before. A team is coming off a rivalry game the week before and plays flat. A big match-up the next week means a heavy favorite overlooks a supposed patsy.
Next thing you know, upset city, baby.
While games like the Red River Shootout and LSU’s looming trip to Tuscaloosa will garner all the pregame pub, but here are a few October games where a clear favorite could get caught napping.
North Carolina at East Carolina (Oct. 1)
OK, so the Tar Heels aren’t exactly one of the country’s elite teams this season. They’re still supposed to beat a team like East Carolina up and down the field. Who knows how long the disappointment over last week’s gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of conference rival Georgia Tech will linger in Chapel Hill?
Catching the Pirates on the road ups the danger factor, and ECU could be pretty salty after suffering a 25-point beatdown at UNC last season.
Oh, and Vegas has made UNC just a 6-point favorite on Saturday…
Trap Level: Booby
Boise State at Fresno State (Oct. 7)
Pat Hill’s squad has made its bones by playing anyone anywhere, but the Broncos travel to Fresno for this Friday night tilt. Boise has a revenge game with Nevada on Saturday.
A short week and then a night game? Boise usually doesn’t stumble in these situations, but that doesn’t make this any less gnarly.
Trap Level: Mouse
LSU at Tennessee (Oct. 15)
I circled this one way back in the summer as the trappiest of traps. This trip to Knoxvegas is sandwiched for LSU between Florida (Oct. 8) and a big-time revenge opportunity against defending national champ Auburn.
If you recall, the Vols should have revenge on their minds as well after how last year’s game ended in Baton Rouge.
Trap Level: Bear
Washington at Stanford (Oct. 22)
Generally, teams fall into traps on the road. Let’s face it, though – the concept of “home-field advantage” has to be as foreign to Stanford as an unpaid internship.
The Huskies are looking pretty frisky this year, and they’ve been known to bite a big dog or two every year since coach Steve Sarkisian took over three years ago. The UW offense is humming this year, putting up 35 points per game, and sophomore quarterback Keith Price has already made everyone forget about Jake Locker. (To be fair, if you saw Locker play in college, you know that’s not as hard as Mel Kiper would have you believe.)
Meanwhile, the Cardinal will be coming off of a road trip to enchanting Pullman, Wash., and will be looking forward to what used to be known as the “what’s your deal?” game against USC a week later.
Trap Level: Liquidity (Ask Japan about it – not fun.)
Oklahoma at Kansas State (Oct. 29)
Our final danger game takes us to the Little Apple. The Sooners should be favored in every game between now and this match-up, which means OU will likely be undefeated with a revenge game against Texas A&M waiting in the wings.
Kansas State has nowhere near the same level of talent as Oklahoma, but that hasn’t stopped crafty coaching legend Bill Snyder from pulling off an upset or two in his time. OU will need to look sharp, because Sooners really can’t afford to sleepwalk here.
Trap Level: Door