Which opponent could serve as trap game for Ohio State football in 2018?
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Looking at Ohio State’s 2018 schedule, which game(s) stick out as a trap(s)? Any that should be easy wins but could end up being trouble for the Buckeyes?
— Erin Sorensen (@erinsorensen) March 13, 2018
“I saw Wedding Crashers accidentally. I bought a ticket for Grizzly Man and went into the wrong theater. After an hour, I figured I was in the wrong theater, but I kept waiting. Because that’s the thing about bear attacks … they come when you least expect it.” — Dwight Schrute
Every time I think about trap games, I have to remind myself of The Office episode in which Dwight Schrute recalls his ill-fated quest to see the documentary Grizzly Man and delivers a lesson to us all. Sometimes, things come out of nowhere. Oftentimes when people answer this question — and I’m guilty of it, too — they look for an obvious choice such as an improving team or a tough road trip immediately following a big game. Those almost never work out that way, though …. probably because trap games come when you least expect them.
At Ohio State, that’s happened a few times recently. A mediocre Penn State team in 2014 that later lost to Illinois took the eventual national champion Buckeyes to double overtime. One year later, Indiana was less than 10 yards away from wrecking Ohio State’s title defense before it really got started. The Hoosiers went on to finish 6-7. In 2016, Ohio State had to fight to hold off Northwestern at home and won 24-20. A few weeks later, a Michigan State team that finished 3-9 came within a failed 2-point conversion of wrecking the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff bid. Of course, the most famous recent example may have been the team that did ruin a playoff berth. Iowa came out of nowhere in 2017 to humiliate the Buckeyes in a 55-24 romp.
So who’s going to be the team that comes out of nowhere this season to scare and possibly beat the Buckeyes? It might be tempting to pick road games against ascending teams such as Purdue or Maryland, but as I detailed earlier, that’s rarely the way it works. Instead, I’m going to go with a team that’s lost to Ohio State by about 100 points the last two years. Come on down, Nebraska!
Why the Huskers? Maybe I’ve subconsciously realized this season might be the last chance for a while to pick them as a trap game. But even with Scott Frost on board, there’s no denying a Nebraska win would be a monumental upset in 2018. After all, the Huskers have taken some awful beatings lately at the hands of the Buckeyes, losing 62-3 in 2016 and 56-14 in Lincoln in 2017. Quarterback Tanner Lee is off to the NFL, and while he wasn’t always effective, keep in mind the job is going to go to either someone who wasn’t as good as him or someone who wasn’t at Nebraska last season.
It’s going to take Frost more than one year to get the Huskers going, but I still think he’s the type of coach that could steal a big win in his first season, even if his team ends up having to fight just to be bowl eligible. The offensive scheme will be dynamic, and if it clicks in a big way against a marquee opponent, the Huskers are going to have a chance to surprise someone.
Will Ohio State see it coming? Stay tuned.
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