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Ohio State will have to avoid several potential trap games in 2017

An improved Big Ten conference means the Buckeyes must watch their backs. 

LJ Scott (3) bursts through the line.
Leon Halip

Ohio State has rarely skipped a beat during the regular season since Urban Meyer’s arrival in Columbus six years ago.

Meyer’s 61-6 record with the Buckeyes proves as much. The one no longer with the beard doesn’t lose often, especially when he’s not supposed to. His teams are 28-1 in August and September, with that single loss coming at the hands of Virginia Tech in 2014 (I was also at that game dumpster fire).

But trap games are a part of college football and crucial for both teams involved. OSU received another reminder of that last season in Week 8 when then-unranked Penn State – a 20-point underdog – erased a four-point deficit in the final 5 minutes to secure the upset.

There are more than a few meetings on the Buckeyes schedule this year that could end in similar fashion.

Let’s take a look at OSU’s biggest trap games.

Aug. 31, Indiana

We have mere days until this one kicks off in Bloomington. The pressure rides mainly on the shoulders of mistake-prone Hoosier quarterback Richard Lagow, who’s reportedly really taking to Indiana’s new offensive scheme. Completely counting out the Hoosiers on a Thursday night before OSU has broken in their secondary and receiving targets would be unwise.

Oct. 14, Nebraska

The entire country watched OSU absolutely embarrass then-No. 10 ranked Nebraska by a score of 62-3 last season. While the Cornhuskers were almost blanked on the scoreboard, don’t expect the same this October in Memorial Stadium.

Nebraska’s defense has regrouped, led by defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun. With Tommy Armstrong Jr. long gone, lining up under center on offense is the steady, experienced Tanner Lee.

Nebraska increased its win totals in 2016 and the next step is a conference championship.

Nov. 4, Iowa

The Scarlet and Gray start off November with a trip to Iowa City. The Hawkeyes aren’t a perfect team but they’re a talented dark horse to win the Big Ten under Kirk Ferentz, who’s in his 19th (!!) season as Iowa’s head coach.

Star tailback Akrum Wadley gained nearly 1,400 yards from scrimmage in 2016 and should help break in whoever’s starting at quarterback for the Hawkeyes. With All-America caliber linebacker Josey Jewell heading up a strong front seven on defense, it’s easy to why this is a trap game for the Buckeyes.

Nov. 11, Michigan State

The last thing you want to do is overlook Mark Dantonio and the Michigan State Spartans. Sure, they just turned in a dud of a season in 2016, but did it mean anything when OSU barely squeaked by Sparty back in November? No, it didn’t. And the same goes for this season, regardless of how many games the Spartans win.

Honorable Mention: Army West Point (Sept. 16)

I’d love to give Army an official spot on the list. I really would. After all, they’re coming off an incredible record-breaking season and return a very, very solid team. But even with the predictable early scare they’ll give the Buckeyes, don’t bet on this being the game that puts a dent in OSU’s national title hopes.