[new games coming out]Big Ten college football: 2021 trap games for every team

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  Photo: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

  Assuming Indiana is in the works to repeat its success of 2020, it cannot let its guard down, even for a second. While this game against the Spartans comes off of a bye week, it’ll have just played Penn State and MSU comes one week before hosting Ohio State. Who knows what Mel Tucker’s Michigan State team will look like in his second year, but it would be easy to slip up against what didn’t look like a good Spartans team a year ago considering the bookends the Hoosiers have surrounding that game.

  

  Photo: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

  Maryland starts off with West Virginia before hosting Howard and going to Illinois. Imagine a scenario where the Terps emerge unscathed here — but Iowa and Ohio State are on deck after the nonconference slate concludes. Kent State went 3-1 in 2020 and certainly can pose a threat if Maryland is caught looking ahead.

  

  Photo: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

  The Blue Hens might be in the FCS, but they went 7-1 and lost in the playoff semifinals. Rutgers is vastly improved it appears, but it’ll be coming off two potentially tough foes in Temple and Syracuse and meets up with the other team wearing a winged helmet in Michigan in Week 4. If any doubt is sowed early on, then this one could be tough — we’ve seen FCS teams take down bigger schools if they aren’t on their Ps and Qs.

  

  Photo: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

  There’s no telling what Illinois will be in Bret Bielema’s return to the Big Ten, but facing a Power Five foe — even one as mediocre as Virginia — could spell doom. The Cavaliers were 5-5 last season but Illinois was nothing to write home about. This game being on the road just under a week before the Illini take on Maryland on a Friday night could spell disaster before the Big Ten schedule kicks off in earnest.

  

  Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

  This isn’t really a trap game as it’s a potential hard one right out of the gates for the Hawkeyes. Given that Iowa won out to finish the 2020 season, it very well could have its eyes on the Week 2 tilt vs. rival Iowa State — a team that’s got some College Football Playoff potential. If Iowa doesn’t take this game with utmost seriousness, it could start its second consecutive season at 0-2.

  

  Photo: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

  Don’t let one loss turn into two, they always say.

  Minnesota let that happen last year, after a shellacking at the hands of Michigan led to a comeback loss for Maryland against the Gophers the next week. Considering Minnesota opens the season against Ohio State and faces Colorado in Boulder in Week 3, facing a 2-1 Miami (OH) team (2020 record) could either be the elixir that wipes clear what happens against the Buckeyes or starts a snowball effect with a Pac-12 opponent up next.

  

  Photo: Isaiah Hole

  As said, Rutgers is improved and signs point to Northwestern taking a step back due to personnel losses and defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz retiring. Still, the Wildcats could be 5-0 heading into the game against the Scarlet Knights, with games against MSU, Indiana State, Duke, Ohio and Nebraska taking place beforehand. They take on Rutgers coming out of the bye week, but with Michigan up next, this could be the game that Northwestern trips up.

  

  Photo: Isaiah Hole

  Nebraska was close in a lot of its losses from a year ago, and has more talent overall than the Boilermakers. Still, it might not show much in the record books, but considering that this game comes after tilts vs. Iowa and Wisconsin, if Purdue hasn’t figured out how to come away from either of those with some wins and/or confidence, the Huskers very well could keep the Boilermakers from having a successful season.

  

  Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

  Buffalo has new leadership in Maurice Linguist, who will try to build upon the exemplary job that Lance Leipold did. The top team in the MAC, the Bulls could take down just about any Big Ten team if they’re not firing on all cylinders. And the Huskers have been a team that’s struggled to do precisely that in Scott Frost’s tenure.

  Nebraska should get wins against Illinois and Fordham in Weeks 0-1, but Week 3 sees the Huskers traveling to Norman to take on Oklahoma. It would be very easy to look ahead of the MAC team on the schedule before facing a legitimate College Football Playoff contender.

  

  Photo: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

  By the time that Wisconsin faces the Illini, it’ll have gone up against Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan. While it handled Illinois impressively to open the season in 2020, this year, they’ll see the Illini the week after the Wolverines and a week before taking on Army and the triple-option — which always requires extra preparation.

  If the Badgers head into this game exhausted from facing the Irish and Wolverines and have their minds on how to slow the triple-option, the Illini could get a signature win in Bret Bielema’s first year.

  

  Photo: Detroit Free Press

  I have this as a trap game strictly because it takes place the week after the Michigan game. We’ll know by this point if either the Spartans or Boilermakers are any good, but a loss against Michigan could send MSU into a tailspin down the stretch.

  

  Photo: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

  Penn State likely won’t overlook the Terps since it lost to Maryland a year ago, but the issue is this game is sandwiched in between Ohio State and Michigan. It’s a big stretch for the Nittany Lions and if the Terrapins have taken a step forward, it could spell doom for a second-consecutive year for PSU — especially since this one is in College Park.

  

  Photo: The Columbus Dispatch

  Let’s be clear: Ohio State is not going to lose to Tulsa. But, this comes after the Buckeyes face off against Oregon, so there’s a chance that it could feel some lows after some quick highs against the big game vs. the Ducks.

  The Hurricane lost just three games in 2020 — the season opener against Oklahoma State, the American Conference championship to Cincinnati and its bowl game against Mississippi State. Again, they won’t beat OSU, but if the Buckeyes play a lackluster version of football coming off the Oregon game, it could get interesting — for awhile.

  

  Photo: Isaiah Hole

  Michigan didn’t play Maryland last year, but the Terps looked vastly improved with Taulia Tagovailoa under center. This game will be on the road for the Wolverines and unfortunately, it’ll be after a road game at Penn State, the week before the Ohio State game. We’ve seen the Wolverines struggle in the penultimate week of the regular season and if Maryland ends up being pretty good, then the maize and blue could finish the season with three-straight losses, potentially.

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