The biggest trap games of 2024

Oregon: Get ready to learn Ross-Ade Stadium at night, buddy.

The biggest trap games of 2024

What exactly is a "trap game" in college football? Is it getting ambushed on the road after a miracle win? Overlooking an inferior opponent when your rival/a ranked opponent is on deck the next week? Whatever your exact definition of a trap game is, they litter the schedule every season, and odds are decent that your favorite team falls victim to one. So what are the biggest trap games of 2024?

I took the Sporting News' preseason top-25 composite rankings and came up with one opponent for each team that fits into our vague definition of the trap game, and which ones could define the 2024 season.

The biggest trap games of 2024


  • Auburn - October 5

Last preseason I picked Auburn to knock off one of Georgia or Alabama, and they came agonizingly close to winning both. I rarely learn my lesson, so I'm sticking with that same strategy this year. The Dawgs have a primetime road trip to Alabama the week before this game, while Auburn is home vs. Oklahoma. I'm high on the Tigers again - I think they at least keep it close.

Penn State

  • at Wisconsin - October 26

No program in the country benefits more from the creation of the 12-team playoff than Penn State and James Franklin. Under this new system, they can still lose to Ohio State and Michigan every year and make it in - they just can't drop anything else. A loss in Camp Randall the week before they play the Buckeyes at home feels like the perfect opportunity for them to do exactly that.


  • at Purdue - October 18 (Friday)

Ross-Ade Stadium has a reputation for being a place where giants go to die. Whether that's truly warranted or not is up for debate, but the classic recipe for a trap game exists here. It's on a Friday night, six days after the Ducks host Ohio State in (presumably) prime time. The Ducks will either be coming off an all-time high, or regrouping from a loss in a heavyweight fight on short rest. Even if Purdue stinks again, this matchup is tricky for Oregon. This is the biggest trap game of the season.

Oklahoma State

  • South Dakota State - August 31

Is it fair to call a season opener vs. the back-to-back FCS National Champions a trap game? Probably not, but you need to at least be aware that this is a legitimate week one upset possibility. The Cowboys have a decent track record of underperforming (or outright losing) at home against G5/FCS teams, and SDSU is by far the best of the bunch.

Notre Dame

  • Miami (OH) - September 21

A strong G5 team going into Notre Dame Stadium and winning? Feels like we've seen that recently...

Adding to the trap game potential: The Irish play what should be an undefeated Louisville team who beat them last season the week after this.


  • vs Appalachian State - September 7

You may not remember Clemson's disgusting first half against Charleston Southern last season, but I do. To be clear, that's not be comparing Charleston to App State in any way, but how convinced are you that Clemson's issues from the past few seasons are fixed? Win (somehow) or lose against Georgia in the season opener, the Tigers will be beat up when the Mountaineers come to town.


  • USF - September 7

I'm not counting a once-in-a-lifetime non-conference trip to Camp Randall as a trap game, so how about the week before when they run back one of 2023's worst games?

Kansas State

  • at BYU - September 21

For as much as I love Kansas State, they have a penchant for randomly dropping games they shouldn't under Chris Klieman. Maybe a trip to Provo is this year's.


  • at Mississippi State - November 23

I already picked Auburn for Georgia and South Carolina for Oklahoma, so I'm going with Mississippi State by default. These two have only played twice since the Tigers joined the conference 12 years ago. Also - As far as SEC schedules with the now-additions of Texas and Oklahoma go, Missouri's 2024 slate is a gift:

The Tigers avoid LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Texas, while getting Oklahoma and Auburn at home. 2023 was a big year for the Tigers, and 2024 might be even better.


  • at Minnesota - October 5

Here's the first month-and-a-half of USC's schedule:

I won't pretend like it's the toughest slate in the country, but it's far from a cake walk. A trip to Minnesota sandwiched between Wisconsin and Penn State makes for a tantalizing trap game possibility. Lincoln Riley's propensity to lose conference road games against teams who play with any physicality makes this one stand out to me.