What would make you happier and why: A season with a great record but no rivals or less wins with a victory or two against a rival like Stanford/USC/UCLA? (Say 9-3/8-4 with no wins against our rivals versus 6-6/7-5 with 1 or 2 wins against that group)
A.W. Johnston: 9-3/8-4 with no wins against Rivals. Let's focus on drumming up recruiting even further and building a program for decades to come. Rival victories will come, but please don't let me endure another Stanfurd loss!
atomsareenough: blaaah, false choice. Honestly it kind of depends entirely on what happens during the games and with the rival programs. If we beat Stanford because they are lousy and we're marginally less lousy and we finish 6-6, is that so special? Give me 9-3, then. I guess I'd kind of rather be good. If we're good, we're more likely to beat our rivals now and in the future.
Nik Jam: I'd take 6-6 with a win over USC or Stanford than 9-3 with no CA wins easily since either way we're in a bowl game and probably not in the Pac-12 title game. But it probably means we underachieved against a beatable team like Texas or UW.
Keegan Dresow: I would choose the wins. Confidence and knowing how to win are huge intangibles in football. 7-5 and 6-6 would be nice seasons to be happy about, and would show improvement. But 9-3 or 8-4 are truly strong seasons that would give the program a high level of confidence moving forward.
Berkelium97: As much as I'd like to beat one of the California teams, an 8 or 9-win season is much more important for us in the long run. A 9-win season would include wins on the road against Texas, Utah, and Oregon. That would be a very satisfying season for me. Building on the team's success and improving the team's trajectory is essential for Sonny in his third year and 8/9 wins would trump a win or two over a CA school. I can wait until next year to beat a California school (although we should have a strong chance to beat LSJU and UCLA this year).
Andrew G. Miller: My first words were "Stanford sucks," so it's hard for me to make the logical choice here and take the extra wins. Going 9-3 would be an enormous statement for the program, but the question is what would make me happier, and 6-6 with a couple of long overdue thrashings of USC and the Furd would do it for me. I'd even consider 5-7 if you throw in some revenge against Texas.
KWBears: Do bowl game committees care if we beat a rival? Do all of the various ranking systems/schemes/voters out there care if we beat a rival? Does our record care if we beat a rival? No, no, and no. A win is a W, a loss is a L. All that matters is that we win - I don't care if it's a rival or not. Have you seen how athletes react after they lose to a rival or some other random team? You've always got to play the game and then move on. Rival games are more for the fans and nostalgia than anything truly meaningful from an athletic competition standpoint. As Al Davis once said, "Just win, baby!"