<
>

Most compelling Pac-12 game of 2016: No. 5

We are going through the Pac-12's 10 most compelling games of the 2016 season. Here's No. 10, here's No. 9, here's No. 8, here's No. 7, and here's No. 6.

Our countdown continues with No. 5:

USC at Utah, September 23

This Pac-12 South matchup has picked up steam in the past two seasons as Utah has developed into a force in that division.

In 2014, the Utes staged an epic last-minute drive to beat the Trojans 24-21 at home. Last season USC exacted its revenge, spanking Utah 42-24 at the Coliseum. The Utes were flying high at the time of that loss, ranked in the top five, and the Trojans sent them reeling.

Both of those games had a major effect on the Pac-12 South race. We expect the 2016 installment to be no different.

Both teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks. For the Trojans, it'll be a real trial by fire. They face Alabama and Stanford away from home before traveling to Salt Lake City for this contest on a short week.

Utah's schedule is easier at the start, which is a welcome development for Kyle Whittingham since he has so many unknowns to fill. The aforementioned quarterback position is up for grabs, and Devontae Booker -- the country's most-used offensive weapon -- is also gone. The Utes will spend the early part of next season doing some serious soul-searching, and this Friday night game against USC could set the course for the whole year.

We know that we can expect a physical, hard-fought game in front of a raucous nighttime crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium. That much seems to be a constant when these two teams square off. And if this one delivers half the drama that the last meeting in Salt Lake City did, it'll be well worth watching.