Every game counts. But some games count more. Or tell us more.
We're going through the Pac-12 and picking out one game that seems most important -- or potentially most revealing -- for each team from our vantage point today.
We're going in alphabetical order.
Most important game: vs. USC, Oct. 4.
Why it's important: All together now, DUH. Of all the games we've previewed for this series (and the two more we have left to do) this is by far the biggest no-brainer of the bunch.
I know a lot of die-hards are going to say no matter what, the BYU game on Sept. 15th is the most important. I get that. I understand the rivalry having covered it in the Mountain West and know it stretches back years and years before that. It's steeped in tradition. Who's a guy from Southern California to say otherwise?
It's so important that the schools are considering discontinuing it. Utah owns the series 55-34-4. It's time to set your sites on bigger fish, Ute fan. And it just so happens there's a 200-pound Trojan trout that's going to flop right into your boat on Oct. 4. Can you catch it?
This game could be Utah's coming out party to the Pac-12 to announce they have arrived. It's been said before about this game, and will continue to be said until the game is played. It's time for Utah to step up and get their seat at the big-boy table. There's little reason to think Utah won't be 4-0 heading into this nationally televised, Thursday night game at home (by the way, which would make them 56-34-4 against BYU for those keeping track). Utah should be in the Top 25 and USC will likely be in the Top 3. This game will garner national attention and a victory puts the Utes in the driver's seat for the Pac-12 South and a spot in the conference title game.
If they lose, it won't exactly be a step backward for the program and given Utah's schedule, a 10- or 11-win season is certainly attainable (worth noting that Washington looms Nov. 10 and the Utes are 0-7 all-time against the Huskies). But the way the schedule plays out, this could be a very special season for the Utes with the defense they boast, the running back they'll ride and their heady quarterback running the show (if he stays healthy).
This isn't just the most important game of the season. This might be the most important regular season game in Utah football history.