- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every game counts. But some games count more. Or tell us more.
We're going through the Pac-12 and picking out one game that seems most important -- or potentially most revealing -- for each team from our vantage point today.
We're going in alphabetical order.
Most important game: Sept. 22 at Washington State
Why it's important: Imagine it, Colorado fans, a 3-0 start. Colorado State, Sacramento State and Fresno State to open the season, and victories in those three games are achievable. Then it's off to Pullman where, no doubt, last year's collapse against the Cougars is still fresh in the minds of those in Boulder. Remember the 10-point lead with five minutes left in the game? Only to watch Marshall Lobbestael throw two touchdowns in the final two minutes -- including a 63-yarder to Marquess Wilson with 1:10 left to play -- en route to a 31-27 come-from-behind win.
This game could be the most pivotal of Colorado's season. If the Buffaloes start off 3-0, then get a victory in Pullman, they'll head home to face a still-uncertain UCLA team before the bye week. It's not out of the realm of possibility for Colorado to be -- wait for it -- 5-0 heading into the bye week. Of course, a lot of things have to fall into place for all of this to come together. And it might be a stretch -- but it's not a big stretch.
If the Buffaloes can take care of business in the first three games, they'll have plenty of motivation for revenge against Washington State, and a ton of confidence as they look to the second half of the season and the very real possibility of achieving a bowl game.
True, there is a bit of a rivalry growing between Colorado and Utah, seeing as both were Pac-12 newcomers last year and the Buffaloes stunned Utah last season. It's actually a renewal of the old rivalry between the two schools from the 19-teens, through 40s. Maybe in a few years, that rivalry will rekindle (though doubtful it will ever reach the status of the CU-Nebraska rivalry).
But for now, Week 4 is the swing game for the Buffaloes and one that could alter the entire trajectory of the 2012 season.