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30-Day Countdown: Day 14 - Must Win Game

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Pac-12 Championship - Stanford v USC Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

On the blog’s Day 14 installment of our 30-Day Countdown until kickoff against Cal, we ask the following question: Which game on Washington’s 2020 schedule most closely qualifies as “Must Win”. Below, I present you with what I believe are the three leading candidates, my personal pick, and a poll asking for your opinion on the matter.

California Golden Bears - California Memorial Stadium - November 7th: I believe there’s a strong case to be made that the season opener against Cal may qualify as THE “Must Win” game of the season. Not only would it be nice to start the season with a win, but it would be huge to start the new coaching tenures of head coach Jimmy Lake and offensive coordinator John Donovan with a solid win against an inter-division rival on the road. Many pundits and analysts currently see Cal as the third best team in the Pac-12 North, so securing a win over the Bears would help to shore up Washington’s chances of making the conference title game. Need another reason? Cal has a two-game winning streak against the Huskies, both in games the Huskies were favored to win. It’s time to stop the bleeding, set the tone, and secure a big, early win for Jimmy Lake and co.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 26 Cheez-It Bowl - Cal v TCU Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Apple Cup (WSU) - Martin Stadium - November 27th: This one always pulls at the heart strings of Husky fans. Of course you want to win the Apple Cup every year. Of course you want to keep the winning streak (currently seven games) against the Cougs going. To be honest, it would also be nice to convincingly beat new Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich in his first year at the helm in Pullman. Sure, the Cougs aren’t expected to be a threat to win the division, let alone the conference this season, but they’re our in-state rival and another important hurdle to clear on the path to the Pac-12 championship game. Not convinced? Let me add some more fuel to the fire with this recent Tweet from Rolovich:

Oregon - Autzen Stadium - December 12th: Finally, we’ve reached what is set up to be the biggest game of Washington’s season, if not the “Must Win” game, against the Oregon Ducks. Oregon is the favorite to win both the division and conference this season. They’re Washington’s final game of the regular season, and this game could very conceivably become a defacto Pac-12 North championship game. Also, it’s Oregon. If Washington is able to reach this game with one or fewer losses on the season, and Oregon does what they’re expected to do with their schedule, the winner of this game will be heading to the Pac-12 Championship game. Also, again, it’s Oregon.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - Oregon v Wisconsin Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

My pick: The Oregon game. Winning the season opener against Cal would be big, and beating the Cougs is always a good time, but defeating the hated Ducks in Eugene to clinch a berth to the Pac-12 championship game (and deprive the Ducks of it at the same time) would be all too sweet. It’s Washington’s biggest rival and top competition for the division in the final game of the regular season. Unless another school surprises everyone this season or Oregon takes some lumps early on, it’s hard to imagine winning the North without a win over the Ducks. This is clearly the “Must Win” game for the 2020 season.

Poll

Which game most closely qualifies as a "Must Win" for the Huskies in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    California
    (167 votes)
  • 2%
    The Apple Cup (WSU)
    (14 votes)
  • 60%
    Oregon
    (291 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (8 votes)
480 votes total Vote Now