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Golden Nuggets: Cal's Most Important Game of the 2013 Season

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Northwestern? Ohio State? The Big Game? Uncle Ted makes the case for USC as the Bears' most important game.

Harry How

Uncle Ted is going through the Pac-12 and picking each team's most important game of the season. When he began this series, I wondered which game would be Cal's most important this season. I could not make a decision. Beating the Lobsterbacks is always delightful--but is it the most important win? Northwestern was another good opportunity--opening the season with a win over a top-25 team would be a great start to the Sonny Dykes era. You could also make the case for Oregon or Ohio State. Here is how Uncle Ted decided on USC as the most important game.

You could make a case for the season opener against Northwestern. A win over a likely nationally ranked Wildcats team would give new coach Sonny Dykes some early momentum. Also, a victory would contrast well with the horrid opener a year ago, a loss to Nevada, that ruined the opening of newly remodeled Memorial Stadium.

Because beating the best team on the schedule isn't necessarily the same as winning the most important game, Ted passes on Oregon and Stanford. He decides on USC for several reasons, including the Bears' 9-game losing streak, closing the home slate with a win, and generating some momentum heading into a possible bowl game.

I also think it's a much more winnable game for the Bears than road dates at Oregon or Stanford. And, as an added bonus, a win might spell doom for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, which could inspire hours of message board gloating. Not that Cal fans would ever, ever do that.

In terms of football stuff, beating USC would not only make up for years of frustration in the series, it would offset the horrid performance at USC last year, when Cal was outgained 488 yards to 250 in a 27-9 defeat.

Further, set the whole thing up based on the schedule, which is among the nation's toughest next fall. If the Bears' goal is to get back to a bowl game, where do you flag the necessary six wins? Hard to find.

But let's just say the Bears have four wins when USC comes to town. Beat the Trojans, and a trip to Colorado is all that stands in the way of bowl eligibility. Then the Stanford game becomes pure gravy, with a puncher's chance in a rivalry game when the Cardinal might be playing for huge stakes.

What do you think? Do you agree with Uncle Ted or is another game more important?

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