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by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Watch out 'Bama: Top 10 trap games of 2011

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Landry Jones and Oklahoma better not overlook Missouri when the Tigers visit Norman. (Getty Images)  
Landry Jones and Oklahoma better not overlook Missouri when the Tigers visit Norman. (Getty Images)  

I'm sick of scandals and rumors about scandals, so your humble servant is going to implement a radical idea during our visit today: I'm going to write about football. You remember football, right?

It's the game that we love despite all of the shenanigans. It's the game that, despite being so dysfunctional off the field, is better than it has ever been on the field.

So let's start with one of my favorite preseason lists: Trap games.

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First, a definition: If your team has a realistic chance of going undefeated and playing for the national championship, trap games are those which fall at a very inconvenient time on the schedule. Trap games catch you looking ahead to a very important opponent or still recovering -- both mentally and physically -- from a very difficult game the week before.

So with that in mind, let's go with our Top 10 Trap Games for 2011:

1. Alabama at Mississippi State, Nov. 12: On Nov. 5, Alabama will play what could be The Game of the Century when LSU comes to Tuscaloosa. If both teams are unbeaten, that game could be nothing less than an elimination round for a shot at the national championship. It will be physical. Then the following week, Alabama has to take that 90-minute ride up U.S. Highway 82 to Starkville, where the Bulldogs will have warmed up with a scrimmage against Tennessee-Martin the week before.

2. Oklahoma vs. Missouri, Sept. 24: Missourihas no shot without Blaine Gabbert, right? Well consider that the week before Oklahoma flies all the way to Tallahassee, where an ambitious Florida State team is looking to give Jimbo Fisher a signature win as head coach. Missouri, which returns nine starters on offense, tunes up for its trip to Norman with a scrimmage against Western Illinois.

3. Oregon at Washington, Nov. 5: Let's say Oregon knocks off LSU in the opener in Arlington and gets on a little roll. The conversation will turn to a showdown (on the road) against Stanford and Andrew Luck on Nov. 12. But on Nov. 5 the Ducks have to go to Husky Stadium. Remember that Washington won at Southern California last season and enters 2011 on a four-game winning streak.

4. Boise State at San Diego State, Nov. 19: If Boise State beats Georgia in Atlanta on Sept. 3, the Broncos will be undefeated and in the top five when they host TCU on Nov. 12 in a monster Mountain West game. Should Boise State win, the BCS talk will be fast and furious. But the following week the Broncos have to go to San Diego State, where Rocky Long takes over for Brady Hoke.

5. Alabama at Florida, Oct. 1: Alabama will be coming of its first SEC test against Arkansas, which is going to be better than it was in 2010. After beating the Gators 31-6 last season, it might be tough to convince the Crimson Tide that a trip to The Swamp could be that difficult. Will Muschamp will have a chance to score his first major upset as a head coach.

6. Stanford at Oregon State, Nov. 5: What's the best time to play Stanford? That would be on the Saturday between Southern California (Oct. 29) and Oregon (Nov. 12). Mike Riley is going to beat somebody he's not supposed to beat this season.

7. Florida State at Clemson, Sept. 24: The computer that built the ACC schedule didn't do Florida State any favors here. Florida State fans are buzzing every day about Oklahoma's arrival in Tallahassee on Sept. 17. If the Seminoles win they become a dark horse for the national championship. One problem: They have to go to Death Valley the following Saturday. Clemson doesn't have it any better. The Tigers will be recovering from what will be a very physical home game against Auburn.

8. LSU at West Virginia, Sept. 24: LSU plays Mississippi State on a Thursday night (Sept. 15) and gets a good rest before heading to Morgantown. LSU should be able to line up and physically dominate this game. But West Virginia's Mad Scientist, Dana Holgorsen, will come up with something to make this game interesting -- and uncomfortably close for the Tigers.

9. Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, Nov. 10: With Clemson and Miami (Fla.) coming to Blacksburg, Virginia Tech should be 9-0 when the Hokies arrive in Atlanta. Both teams have the previous Saturday off. The past three games between Paul Johnson and Frank Beamer have been decided by a touchdown or less.

10. West Virginia at Maryland, Sept. 17: While the world is going to be talking about LSU's visit to Morgantown on Sept. 24, the Mountaineers have to first go to College Park to face the Terps and QB Danny O'Brien. Maryland opens at home against Miami on Sept. 5 and then is off the Saturday before this game.

The Tony Barnhart Show will return on Aug. 30 on The CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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