Every major college football program faces trap games. After facing several tough matchups, the nation’s top teams fall victim to monumental upsets which could change the course of the season.
Florida State fell victim to a 22-16 trap game upset against Georgia Tech in 2015. The Seminoles entered with a perfect 6-0 record, while the Yellow Jackets were 2-5. FSU lost two weeks later to inevitable ACC Champion Clemson, which led to its elimination from the College Football Playoff and second-place finish in the ACC Atlantic Division.
The Seminoles will face more trap games in 2016. Their Week 3 matchup at Louisville could provide a tough challenge. The Cardinals aren’t a bad team, but will definitely be considered the underdog.
FSU defeated Louisville 45-21 in last year’s matchup and held a one-game advantage in the Atlantic Division standings. The Cardinals should, however, enter with a 2-0 record after games against Charlotte and Syracuse to start the season, so it’s far from the biggest trap game loss.
Still, it’s a possible that Louisville makes a surprise impact in the ACC with a preseason Heisman sleeper Lamar Jackson, who shined as a true freshman in 2015.
NC State is another team that could provide a trap for the ‘Noles in 2016. The Wolfpack finished fourth in the Atlantic Division with a 3-5 record in conference games and aren’t expected to make much of a jump in the standings this season.
However, the placement of the Nov. 5 matchup is what makes it a trap game. FSU will play at NC State one week after playing Clemson, its toughest matchup of the season.
NC State could benefit from the aftermath of the Clemson matchup. Either FSU will be fatigued from its toughest game or could have a negative momentum shift coming off a big loss.
But the Seminoles’ biggest trap game might be one within state lines against their biggest rival.
Miami is the biggest wildcard team in college football. The Hurricanes haven’t been down by the standards set by “The U” teams of the ’80s and ’90s for the past decade. But with the addition of new head coach Mark Richt, things could change very quickly.
Richt is the second-winningest coach in Georgia history and a masterful recruiter who has coached numerous NFL talent during his 15 years in Athens. In most cases, a coach won’t see a huge turnaround in his first season because he’s taking over a bad team. But Richt will inherit plenty of talent from Al Golden’s tenure and should coach those players up to their full potential.
At worst, the ‘Canes should match their eight wins from last season. However, their ceiling is high, especially in a wide open Coastal Division.
Either way, Miami should be a competitive team that provides tough matchups for the upper-tier teams of the conference, especially in games at Sun Life Stadium. Its matchup against FSU won’t be an exception.
Miami’s Brad Kaaya was the second-leading passer in the ACC behind Heisman finalist DeShaun Watson. Sophomore running back Joseph Yearby rushed for 1,002 yards and six touchdowns on 205 attempts while freshman Mark Walton showed promise with 461 yards and nine scores on 130 attempts.
Both players are returning and should flourish in Richt’s offensive scheme. FSU’s defense could struggle against the duo after losing seven key contributors on defense including All-American cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Perhaps the Miami matchup won’t seem like a “trap game” once the season starts. The ‘Canes could turnout to be a surprise team and be favored over FSU during their Oct. 8 game.
But as of now, Miami seems like the FSU’s biggest trap game matchup entering the 2016 season.