Monday, August 6, 2012

The Top 3 Trap Games For Michigan Football In 2012

Michigan's 2012 schedule fixes to be one of the most difficult in Michigan football history.  Michigan gets to play 10 teams that made bowls last season, 2 rivalry games on the road, and 7 games away from Ann Arbor.  I recently compiled a list of the 5 toughest games for Michigan next season.  The list was filled with quality teams both on the road and at home, but what many have forgotten are the remaining 7 teams on the schedule.  Do they have a chance to beat Michigan?  Well, we're going to be breaking down the most likely trap games for 2012.

Trap games are just a term used to describe games that are likely wins on the schedule, but could easily be a loss if the team overlooks the opponents.  Michigan has several games with the "trap" element in 2012.  It actually took me a good bit of time to narrow the list down to just three teams.  Obviously, the games that I listed as the toughest for Michigan were immediately excluded, but with games against Air Force, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, and Iowa, there are many games that could be traps for Michigan.  Most assume that Michigan will be favored in at least 8 of its games so there is definitely a chance for at least an upset or two.  Let's check out the list.

#3 - Air Force
In most years, a game against Air Force wouldn't be considered a trap.  Mainly because they have become one of the better programs in the country in recent years.  They have made 5 straight bowl games, compiled a 41-24 record under coach Troy Calhoun, and recorded some big wins over teams including Utah, Notre Dame, TCU, Houston, and Brady Hoke's former team, San Diego State.  Some of those teams may not have been at their peak at the time, but those wins and the team's record alone show that Calhoun has built Air Force into a respectable program.  So why is this a trap game?  This is a trap game for Michigan because of the team's week 1 match-up with Alabama in the Cowboy Classic.  In terms of national exposure and coverage, the Wolverines may not have a bigger game on the 2012 schedule.  This coverage, excitement, and the intensity of the game will, without a doubt, be Michigan's primary focus through August.  A win or a loss in the game could impact Michigan for weeks in September.  They could either be riding so high from a victory that they lose focus for the Air Force game, or ride so low and become so beat up that they play below their own standards and lose to Air Force in week 2.  This is certainly a risk the week after any big game, but just because of the lay-out of the Alabama game, I really think it could be relevant against Air Force.  However, since this is the home opener, I think the crowd and team will be fired up for the game.  Michigan should win all of these games, but this one seems the least likely of the three to be a trap game.

#2 - Northwestern
Michigan thoroughly handled Northwestern last year and are set up nicely to do the same thing next year in the Big House.  Despite this, I truly believe Northwestern could become one of the biggest trap games on the schedule.  Not only because Northwestern should be decent next year, but I think they will be desperately fighting for bowl contention and a marquee win at this point in the season.  The Wildcats also played pretty well on the road last year, despite only going 3-3.  They played Illinois and Iowa in close games before collapsing late and defeated Nebraska in Lincoln, something that only happened once last year.  Northwestern has also recorded at least 1 upset win over a ranked team in the last 4 seasons.  Frankly, they are the type of team that will just randomly show up against a good team.  This makes them very dangerous to a team like Michigan because they will probably be decently ranked entering this game.  Granted, all the signs will point towards a Michigan victory, but if Kain Colter and Kyle Prater (a transfer from USC) can have a big game, they could light up the scoreboard.  Northwestern's defense is going to need to improve, or at least play well in a game against Michigan to win, but with those types of explosive playmakers, Northwestern can beat a lot of teams if they're hitting on all cylinders for any given Saturday.

#1 - Purdue
And the biggest trap game of 2012 is...Purdue?  Yes, despite being Purdue, they may actually have a very capable squad for 2012.  They return 16 starters and three quarterbacks with starting experience.  If Purdue can survive injuries, improve its passing, and stop the run, they may even have a shot at winning the Leaders division.  Once again, I know this is Purdue, but look at their schedule.  Things line up very nicely for the Boilermakers in 2012, but the Michigan game is a key part of any Big Ten title run for Purdue.  Besides from being important, it will also open Big Ten play for both teams.  Michigan will be getting a bye week before Purdue and the Boilermakers will coming off Marshall at home.  Neither team should be too beat up entering the game.  Along with this, Michigan has not played very well in its last few trips to West Lafayette.  That means nothing for this game, but it does make you think that Purdue might have an even better chance to win this game.  After the 2012 season, this may not even look like a trap game if Purdue performs up to their potential.  However, because of the way Michigan dominated them last year, the success of the two programs, and the incoming expectations, Michigan should be favored without a doubt.  Even if Purdue is   3-1 or 4-0 entering the game, most people will probably not take them too seriously.  But don't count the Boilermakers out.  Michigan has been upset on the road several times in recent years, which will make this an even bigger test for this year's Wolverine team.  These factors make this the biggest trap game of the 2012 season for Michigan.

4 comments:

  1. Air Force is not a trap game this year....their record producing QB and RB from last year graduated, and they just dismissed 5 players from the team, 4 of them solid starters, or are in the two deep on the depth chart....I dont know why this was not talked about or mentioned in the breakdown

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    1. The reason it was not mentioned is because this isn't a game preview, it's a breakdown of potential trap games on the schedule. I understand if you don't believe it's a trap game, but the fact that it follows the toughest game on our schedule is the reason I believe it is a trap game. Along with this, whether Air Force lost players or not, they should still be a decent squad.

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  2. I understand your trap game rationale, I just feel the other team has to have a chance of winning for their to be a true trap game, which I dont feel AF does.

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    1. That is a good point. However, if anybody has a low chance at winning, it's Northwestern, at least in terms of the teams I listed. Thanks for the comments though!

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