Our countdown continues with No. 7.
No. 7: Oregon at Washington State, October 1
When these teams squared off in 2015, the result was epic for several reasons. Aside from winning 45-38 in double overtime, the Cougars had quarterback Luke Falk throw 74 passes. If his arm didn't hurt afterward, Falk's ribs certainly did: He absorbed some vicious contact on a touchdown run to force the second extra period. A few minutes earlier, Falk led an epic desperation drive to tie the game with one second left in regulation.
So as far as drama goes, the last Oregon-Washington State game had all one could ever ask for. The contest also vaulted the Cougars back into Pac-12 legitimacy after several years of futility. Coupled with the extremely competitive challenge that Washington State later gave eventual champion Stanford, the win formed a triumvirate of sorts atop the North.
And that's why we're excited about this rematch entering 2016.
The Cougars don't appear to be fading anytime soon. Falk is back, as are key receivers Gabe Marks and River Cracraft. The team's three running backs also return, so the table is set for a prolific offense to pair with an improving defense on the Palouse. That's a potent combination -- one that should be very frightening to Cardinal and Ducks teams that both must replace their quarterbacks and integral pieces of their offensive lines.
Stanford and Oregon have owned the Pac-12 North ever since the league's expansion in 2011, but cracks began to show this past season, and this game has the potential to hasten a changing of the guard in that division -- especially since the current top dogs are in such states of transition.
Let's see if Washington State can capitalize on its experience advantage and deliver a landscape-changing win. This game promises to be a critical hinge point, and if last season's barnburner was any indication, the 2016 version will be well worth watching.