With spring football in full swing for BYU, Utah, Utah State and Weber State it's time to think about football and the coming season. The schedules look to be full of quality opponents for all programs with a lot of great matchups. Here are 10 top games for the in-state programs that fans can look forward to in 2012, listed as they kickoff on the calendar. Related article: BYU football: Cougars enjoying exposure on ESPN as an independent
The Aggies have a primetime opportunity on ESPN2 to prove themselves as a rising program that can rival the Utes and the Cougars with this game. After not playing Utah last season, Utah State should be raring to go as they look to change their fortune with instate matchups.
The John L. Smith-led Wildcats have the opportunity to show themselves as a competitive instate program as they visit LaVell Edwards stadium early in the season. BYU, meanwhile, looks to prove itself as the top instate program and will look for a convincing win.
Yes, they've gone their separate ways with regards to conference affiliation, but it's still likely to receive top-billing of any of the games on either BYU's or Utah's schedule. With the Utes embarrassing the Cougars at home last season, BYU is sure to be out to exact some revenge, seeking to reestablish itself as the top football program in-state. With no sure dates planned for the future, this may be the last time both of these bitter rivals match up for a while, which would be a shame.
This game looks to be a blowout for the Badgers on paper, but many thought the same when Coach Gary Anderson took his team down to Auburn last season. The Aggies came within a hair of pulling the unlikely upset against the defending national champions last season and will look to upset Wisconsin this time around.
This is the first game in a long series with the Broncos with the Cougars looking to start it off on a high note. The Cougars lost a heart-breaker during their last visit to the blue turf in 2004, as Matt Payne's would-be game-winning field goal just missed in the final seconds.
The Utes got off to an awful start last season with their conference schedule and will surely look to kick off their first Pac-12 game with a win. The Sun Devils embarrassed the Utes last season at Rice-Eccles and the Utes will be looking for some revenge in Tempe.
Affiliation with the Pac-12 will bring in the top west coast teams most years and no west coast team holds more tradition than the Trojans. The Utes came close in their upset bid over USC a season ago and will look to defend their home turf in their first in-conference home game of the year.
Last season, Utah State had victory in grasp before Riley Nelson mounted a comeback, which sent the Aggies reeling. Utah State will enter this year's game with a great sense that they can beat the Cougars on their home field as a result. BYU, meanwhile, will seek to make this game into the type of convincing win inherent with most of its matchups versus Utah State.
This is the first game of a six-game series against the independent Irish. BYU hopes to establish itself as a top independent program that can not only schedule, but beat the top teams in the country. Notre Dame was able to accomplish that feat years ago, and look to be a program on the rise after several years mired in mediocrity.
Utah had a berth into the Pac-12 championship game well in hand before dropping a home game to the Buffaloes to conclude 2011's regular-season schedule. This season they'll look to finish out strong against their de facto rival.