USC football’s most important game of 2020 isn’t against Alabama

USC football faces important contests in the Pac-12. Alabama matters less. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
USC football faces important contests in the Pac-12. Alabama matters less. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

USC football’s most important game for 2020 is in the Pac-12, not against Alabama.

Out of conference matchups against top-tier opposition can be tons of fun, and involve great hurt. USC football knows that well.

The Trojans were masters of dishing out the hurt during the Pete Carroll era and even followed up with some epic victories over Ohio State and Texas in the last decade.

They’ve also felt the sting of defeat against the likes of Alabama.

What is USC football’s most important 2020 game?

The upcoming 2020 season opener against the Crimson Tide could be a confidence builder proving USC is real. Or it could be a disaster proving just how far they have left to come.

But it is not the most important game of the season for the Trojans.

This comes up because of a feature from ESPN touting the “Most important 2020 game for each Top 25 college football team.”

For Alabama, it’s not USC but Georgia.

For USC, it’s Alabama, but it shouldn’t be.

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To be fair, Harry Lyles Jr.’s reasoning is sound: “If they’re able to beat the Crimson Tide, they can beat anybody who is left.”

Still, the fact is USC isn’t likely to beat Alabama. If they do, the work of the season will have only just begun.

As much as fans wish it were so (and it should be), the Trojans aren’t a national contender in 2020. The realistic focus must be on the Pac-12. The Pac-12 title is getable if USC can overcome in-conference foes.

That’s why the most important game of the season isn’t Alabama. It’s Utah or ASU, whichever you prefer to hold up as the biggest challenge.

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The reasoning is the same for both games. They’re USC’s chief rivals in the Pac-12 South. Winning those games is essential to setting the tone in the division and getting to the Pac-12 title game.

Lose to Utah or ASU and the Trojans will be playing catchup for the rest of the campaign.

Even though the Sun Devils come first and will test USC greatly in Week 4, the Utes stand out just a tad more.

Utah is replacing a whole bunch of production from last year, but they are the reigning Pac-12 South champions. Moreover, the Trojans will be facing them in Salt Lake City. USC hasn’t won a game in the state of Utah since 2012. Their last trip to Rice-Eccles resulted in a 41-28 beatdown.

If USC wants to reset the order of things in the South, they will need to shake off their road woes and make a statement in Utah.

With a closing month of action against Oregon, Washington, UCLA and Notre Dame, getting off to a quick start is essential.

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