What exactly is a “Must-Win Game?” According to comedian Brian Regan, it’s really just a math question:
Once again, the veteran comic is spot on. Unless you are out if you lose, there are no must-win games. Before the season ever starts, how do we choose a must-win game? Like nearly everything else on this site, we guess, speculate, opinionize, and try to satiate our hunger to talk about anything Husky Football until we actually get to watch them play a game on September 1.
For the sake of great Dawg Pound discussion, let’s turn away from the literal definition of a MWG and shift our attention to the looser meaning: a game that the team really, really needs to win if the season is to go as we want and expect.
I’ll lay out three candidates:
Auburn Tigers - Week One, Atlanta, GA
This game should probably not be on the list based on the fact that it will have zero to do with whether or not the Dawgs win the Pac-12 North, and in turn, the Pac-12 Championship. However, I include it because of its overall résumé-boosting influence. Let’s say the Huskies win the Pac-12 North, take home the Pac-12 crown, but are a one- or two-loss team in a sea of worthy one- or two-loss programs. This win will look really good for Washington, assuming Auburn is a Top-25 team with some good wins in the SEC.
Other than that, don’t you just really, really wanna win this #%$&ing game?
Utah Utes - Week Three, Salt Lake City, Utah
This Pac-12 After Dark contest with Utah is a leading candidate in my estimation. It’s the Pac-12 opener, a good Utah team that has played the Huskies very well, and it registers as equally important regardless of what happens in the season opener in Atlanta.
If the Huskies beat Auburn, then losing to Utah is a failure to continue momentum and puts them in last place in the conference standings immediately. If UW loses in Atlanta, then it’s panic time and any playoff consideration will seem nearly impossible.
Going to Utah and coming out with a win—any win—will be a huge victory going forward and will set the tone for the conference schedule. Utah is a really good team at home, and Kyle Whittingham will once again be willing to pull out all the stops to make this upset happen.
Stanford Cardinal - Week 10, Seattle
This one makes sense in a lot of ways. It’s the team that screwed the Dawgs out of the Pac-12 North title a year ago, the perceived biggest threat in the North, and it comes at a time of the season where contenders and pretenders are separated. Let’s say—for the sake of giving everyone a spike in blood pressure—that the Huskies do in fact lose that game in Utah, and the dumptser fire is doused with gasoline. Then UW refocuses and runs off wins in the subsequent conference games, enters the Stanford game 5-1 in Pac-12 play, and faces a 5-0 Stanford team. Lose this game, and the Huskies are essentially three games behind the Cardinal. Win it, and the tie is broken by the head-to-head win and UW holds a one-game advantage heading into their bye with only a home game against OSU and a trip to Pullman remaining.
If you had to pick a game to describe as "Must Win," which would it be?
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