SEC East’s biggest trap games

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Three SEC East teams enter 2013 with lofty expectations. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are gunning for a championship, while 10 wins for Vanderbilt isn’t out of the question. Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee should all improve, making the SEC East tougher from top to bottom.

But in order to improve, teams have to survive the inevitable ‘trap game’. Trap games come in many shapes and sizes, and trap games insinuate tougher games fall ahead on the schedule. And the fear of a letdown keeps coaches awake at night.

Here are the SEC East’s biggest trap games in 2013:

Florida

Trap Game: Vanderbilt, November 9th
Skinny: Vanderbilt catches Florida at nearly the perfect time. Florida hosts Vandy sandwiched between Georgia and South Carolina. The last two years Vanderbilt has played Florida tough, and they nearly pulled off the upset two years ago in Gainesville. But James Franklin returns his best team and will be gunning to knock off a ranked team. The Georgia rivalry game is always emotional, but the South Carolina showdown could decide who wins the East. But watch out for Vanderbilt.

Georgia

Trap Game: at Vanderbilt, October 19th
Skinny: Two years ago, the Bulldogs nearly blew the Vandy game in Nashville. This year, they’ll have to guard against it. Certainly Georgia has a more talented roster, but the Commodores come calling at the end of a tough SEC four-game stretch that includes LSU. Only this time maybe Todd Grantham and James Franklin will have that cage match.

Kentucky

Trap Game: Western Kentucky, August 31st
Skinny: There’s not many trap games on Kentucky’s schedule. It’s not a knock against the program or Mark Stoops; it’s just the reality of the roster inherited. I look at Western Kentucky in the first week as a must-win game. It’s not necessarily a trap game, but it’s a must-win game. There are three games I point to – WKU, Miami (OH) and South Alabama – as games the Cats should win. There are three others they could win. The goal is a bowl game. And Bobby Petrino would want nothing more than to knock off an SEC team in his first game back.

Missouri

Trap Game: at Kentucky, November 9th
Skinny: Missouri travels to Lexington to end a brutal eight-game stretch that features Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Kentucky will improve, and Mizzou can’t get caught taking it easy, hoping to end the stretch with a win. The Tigers have a bye week the very next week before finishing up SEC play. Road games are tough, and Missouri isn’t good enough to simply show up against Kentucky.

South Carolina

Trap Game: at UCF, September 28th
Skinny: The Gamecocks have a favorable schedule overall, but look out for 10-win UCF. The Gamecocks travel to Orlando to take on a fundamentally sound team. It’s important the bye week falls before UCF week, giving this club an extra week to prepare for a non-letdown. The Knights start a five-game SEC stretch for the Gamecocks. And don’t you know UCF will be hungry to knock off a top-six SEC team.

Tennessee

Trap Game: Western Kentucky, September 7th
Skinny: In the midst of Tennessee’s overall brutal schedule, little ole WKU travels to Knoxville. The Vols will be coming off a blowout win against Austin Peay and looking squarely at the trip to Oregon in the third week, followed by the trip to Florida. Petrino will have his team ready to play Tennessee. Oh, this game scares me.

Vanderbilt

Trap Game: Kentucky, November 16th
Skinny: The Commodores’ roster is much better than Kentucky’s, but the Cats may catch the Dores at a great time. Vandy plays Florida the week before and Tennessee the week after. And we know how much Vandy and UT hate each other, especially after last year’s blowout. So, there could be a tendency for a letdown against the Cats because of the labeled rivalry game against in-state power Tennessee the very next week.

Photo credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

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