Looking Out For The Trap Games

The Ohio State football team has emerged as one of college football favorites to compete for a national championship in 2013, and the Buckeyes schedule has turned out favorably considering they don't have to face Nebraska or Michigan State in the regular season. However, we list five potential trap games - in order of danger - inside.

The Ohio State football team has emerged as one of college football favorites to compete for a national championship in 2013, and that's mostly because the Buckeyes return a lot of talent from the team that went unbeaten in Urban Meyer's first season a year ago.

But there's no question that Ohio State's schedule is more than favorable this season, especially when considering it avoids playing Nebraska and Michigan State during the regular season and has Wisconsin at home in the Big Ten opener.

That doesn't mean the Buckeyes will coast through the regular season unbeaten – remember, they play at Michigan this year – and every season there are games that come out of nowhere and turn into scares or maybe even losses.

The following are five "trap games" – in order of potential danger – that could jump from out of nowhere and be games that are closer-than-expected.

1. California – Though the Golden Bears are by far Ohio State's best nonconference opponent, their performance in the Pac-12 has still left them considered by most as an underwhelming challenge. But don't doubt what Cal could be capable of on it's home field, especially now that it is being led by new head coach and spread offense guru Sonny Dykes. Meyer cited Cal's abundance of NFL talent when OSU barely squeaked by them in Ohio Stadium a year ago, and that is always dangerous. Add in the fact that OSU will have to fly clear across the country, and this game poses more problems than it may seem on the surface.

2. Purdue – There's just something about Purdue, and sometimes that's all the explanation one would need when picking out games that could cause a scare. The Boilermakers' prowess against Ohio State has been well documented, whether you look at the Buckeyes' overtime heroics to top them last year or remember the losses OSU suffered the last two times it visited West Lafayette. Purdue has a new head coach – former OSU assistant Darrell Hazell – and the Buckeyes must again travel to Ross-Ade Stadium in 2013.

3. Northwestern – Northwestern hasn't traditionally been a Big Ten power, but the Wildcats have built a respectable roster under the direction of head coach Pat Fitzgerald. This game may not fit the description of a true "trap game" because many already have this one circled on the calendar, but road trips to Evanston haven't always been kind to the Buckeyes, though they've been scarce. This year's game is a night game, a week after the Big Ten-opener against Wisconsin, another night game in Ohio Stadium. Ryan Field isn't the most intimidating venue in the world, but a night game against a team that won 10 games a year ago is one to look out for.

4. San Diego State – The Aztecs came to Ohio Stadium in 2003 and 2005 and though the final scores didn't indicate blowouts, the Buckeyes were clearly deeper and more talented. San Diego State hasn't made immense strides on the field in the time since, but the Aztecs could provide a Toledo-like scare – see 2012 – if Ohio State isn't prepared and focused. San Diego State won seven-consecutive conference games last year – including wins over Nevada and then-No. 19 Boise State – and running back Adam Muema, who rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore.

5. Indiana – Wait, what? Indiana? The Hoosiers haven't been Ohio State since the late 1980s, who could they possible be a potential trap game for the Buckeyes? Well, its simple – Indiana is a team that's on the rise, and it has an offense capable of putting up points. The usually lowly Hoosiers won four games in 2012, but it wouldn't be surprising if coach Kevin Wilson had Indiana on the cusp of qualifying for a bowl in 2013. The Hoosiers return quarterback Tre Roberson, an offensive sparkplug that will compete – and likely win – the starting job after missing most of last year with injury. And Indiana shows up in an interesting part of Ohio State's schedule right before the Michigan game.

Follow Ari Wasserman on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories