Best Pac-12 Football Games Of 2012, 20 To 16: USC Vs. UCLA Grudge Match Headlines List

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Josh Smith #7 of the UCLA Bruins is tackled on a kickoff return by the USC Trojans in the third quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated UCLA 50-0. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

20. Stanford at Washington; Thursday, September 27. The two likeliest contenders to knock off Oregon in the Pac-12 North meet in what proves to be a pivotal matchup for both squads. It's also important for Washington reestablish themselves in this series, as the Cardinal have straight out flattened the Huskies in their last two meetings. This Thursday night contest figures to be a huge game that will test how good a quarterback Keith Price is against a physical Cardinal linebacking corps and how far the Washington defense has come under Justin Wilcox.

Previous Pac-12 games on the list: 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21

19. USC at UCLA; November 17. Probably would be higher on this list if not for 50-0 last season, which asserted the Trojans as a team that just continues to have the number of the Bruins. This is a solid grudge match in terms of rivalry stakes, but it's hard to see UCLA catching up seven touchdowns worth in one season. It'd be one remarkable turnaround, but the possibility of a blowout is too high to put this higher (in terms of schadenfreude, this might be number one on the list of a host of schools).

If UCLA can put it together offensively, they probably can compete in this one. They did rebound from a smashing of the Trojans in 2005 to upset the Bruins at home in 2006. But Mora would really have to get UCLA working together on the same page.

18. Washington at California; Friday, November 2. Tosh Lupoi returns to Cal in what figures to be a pretty heated weeknight matchup, as the Bears are still sore about how they lost their top recruiter to the Huskies. Outside of the emotion, the last two matchups between Cal and Washington have come down to the final snap (both won by UW), so this could be a pretty exciting Friday night football matchup in Memorial.

The Bears defense will probably be smarting from the way Lupoi left them, so they'll be playing with something to prove. Lupoi and Wilcox (two former Cal coaches) will also be gearing to shut down the Golden Bear offense.

17. Nebraska at UCLA; September 8. The first home game for Jim Mora comes against a Big Ten conference contender, and could end up being a litmus test for how far the Bruins can go under his leadership this season. The Bruins have generally done well out-of-conference too (as they've proven with surprising victories against Tennessee and Texas), so it could be a little deceiving, but any signs of life for UCLA's Pac-12 title hopes will rest on this contest.

If UCLA is to be trusted, their defense needs to be rock solid in this one.

16. Oklahoma State at Arizona, September 8. This could be a rout, but it'll be an entertaining rout. We see one of the most popular iterations of the modern pass spread attack matching up against one of the originators of the modern run spread offense. Okie State won't be quite as good as they were last season though and Arizona could be a little sprightly, so who knows what can happen in the night in the desert?

Arizona's defense could be the difference, as they're not expected to be very good. Last year they got shredded in Stillwater in one half of play, marking the beginning of the end of Mike Stoops's time in Tucson. Rodriguez will really have to control the clock with this run game and try to keep Oklahoma State off the football field.

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