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Must-win and trap games of 2017: UCLA Bruins

When is it too early to start dissecting the 2017 football schedule? Whenever it was, it is behind us ...

We’re taking a look at some of the most important games each Pac-12 team has waiting for it in the fall: the must-wins and the trap games.

Next up: UCLA.

Must-win game: Colorado, Sept. 30

Despite their record last year, the Bruins have the players for a quick rebound and what better opportunity to announce their return than a home game against the defending division champions? The game against Colorado is UCLA’s first home game of conference play and comes after an important game against Stanford the previous week. If it loses to Stanford, an 0-2 conference start would be deflating, and if it beats Stanford, then a win against Colorado would be key toward building off that momentum. Colorado, despite losing a lot on defense, will still be a dangerous team. Its offense returns all of its key pieces outside of quarterback Sefo Liufao, but Steven Montez showed last year he is a capable replacement, and there shouldn’t be much drop-off, if any.

Trap game: at Utah, Nov. 3

Utah isn’t the type of opponent that is generally considered trap-game material.t The Utes are worthy of being circled on the schedule, but there are other factors here that are enough to give the game the distinction in this case. It’s the second of back-to-back road games and comes on a short week (Friday following a Saturday) after what should be a physical game at defending conference champion Washington. Utah in Salt Lake City would be difficult coming off a bye week, but these circumstances work strongly against UCLA.