Upsets are one of the things we all love so much about college football — except when it’s happening to your team. Sometimes teams aren’t as motivated, sometimes they’re caught ‘looking ahead’, and sometime they just get beat.
So which game should every team keep on their radar? Our pick for each team’s biggest ‘trap’ game.
Oct. 22, Mercer at Austin Peay — 4:00 PM CT
We’re expecting the Governors to get back into the win column this year, and with games against TTU and Murray State in the first month, it could happen sooner rather than later. The Governors host Mercer on homecoming, the first of three home games in four weeks. It’s a non-conference game in the middle of conference play, against a team whose offense struggled all season last year. (Even in a 28-7 win over the Governors) If Austin Peay has improved, this game could be winnable, as long as they don’t get too focused on the second-half of the conference campaign.
Oct. 22, Murray State at Eastern Illinois — 1:00 PM CT
There’s going to be a theme for potential title contenders: the week before they play Jacksonville State. EIU hosts the Racers before making the trip to play the (likely) conference leaders, and it’s an especially tough matchup. The Racers are expected to put up points, which can put a lot of pressure on the Panthers defense, especially given the questions we have about EIU’s offense, including the quarterback position. The Racers haven’t topped the Panthers since 2011, which could be another reason EIU peeks ahead to a possible conference-title matchup.
…a theme for potential title contenders: the week before they play Jacksonville State
Oct. 15, Eastern Kentucky at Tennessee State — 7:00 PM CT
Not only is this the game before EKU hosts Jacksonville State, (I told you it would be a theme) it’s a primetime game and the OVC’s “Game of the Week” on ESPN3. EKU’s gotten the better of the Tigers the past three years, which only adds to the potential ‘trap-ness’ of this matchup.
Nov. 5, Jacksonville State at Southeast Missouri — 1:00 PM CT
I nearly picked the Gamecocks’ game against Coastal Carolina, but that team was a 9-3 playoff team a year ago. The Redhawks get the pick here for two reasons: they’re expected to be much improved, and this is the week after EKU and EIU. If JSU gets the sweep of the two teams most expected to be their rivals, could they get a little ‘relaxed’ when they travel to Cape Girardeau? The Redhawks are a dark-horse pick to compete at the top of the conference this year, led by a more experienced Dante Vandeven at quarterback and all-OVC running back Tremane McCollough.
The Redhawks are a dark-horse pick to compete at the top of the conference this year
Oct. 1, Murray State at Austin Peay — 4:00 PM CT
How can a ‘rivalry’ be a trap game, you might ask? When the team on the other side of the rivalry has won one game in the past two seasons — they’re easy to overlook. That win, though, was against the Racers in Clarksville…which is another reason it’s on the list. Austin Peay will be keen to get a win, but how much will Murray? The Racers defense in past years has done it’s part in keeping opponents in games. If they can’t improve on that side of the ball this season, Murray will struggle.
Sep. 17, Indiana State at Southeast Missouri — 6:00 PM CT
The Sycamores were a playoff contenders last year, until four losses in their final five game knocked them out of the top-25. They have a young QB with little experience, and are looking at a hard road in the Missouri Valley football conference. The Sycamores are rebuilding their defense. On paper, SEMO should be home favorites.
Oct. 1, UT Martin at Tennessee State — 2:00 PM CT
Picking a trap game for the Tigers is made more difficult by the face we don’t really know how good they’re going to be this season. The Skyhawks start off TSU’s abbreviated conference campaign, (TSU only plays 7 conference games during 11-game seasons) a matchup of two young teams with more questions than answers entering the season.
Sep.18, Tennessee Tech at Mercer — 6:00 PM CT
TTU has an interesting opening three weeks: three straight games against FCS teams with losing records a year ago. The Golden Eagles beat Mercer last year at home, and it’s sandwiched between two conference opponents. The Bears had a strong offense a year ago, led by a great rushing attack, and they return 20 starters from last season. This team is probably on the rise, which could catch TTU off-guard after playing Austin Peay the week bfeore.
Nov. 12, Southeast Missouri at UT Martin — 2:00 PM CT
The Skyhawks are another team with a few question marks heading into the fall, so this pick is based on an assumption: UTM will be in the title chase. (Which they so often are) The Skyhawks slate is backloaded, with EKU, EIU and JSU all in the final four weeks. Sandwiched in there as well is Southeast Missouri. If UTM is in contention, they’d do well not to look past the Redhawks before they close the season at Jacksonville State