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Most compelling Pac-12 game of 2016: No. 4

We are going through the Pac-12's 10 most compelling games of the 2016 season. Here's No. 10, here's No. 9, here's No. 8, here's No. 7, here's No. 6, and here's No. 5.

Our countdown continues with No. 4:

Washington at Washington State, Nov. 25

The Huskies spanked the Cougars 45-10 in last season's Apple Cup. It was part of the three-game late-season surge that has given Washington fans tremendous optimism entering 2016.

But it wasn't exactly a fair fight. Washington State was missing quarterback Luke Falk, the centerpiece of its offense. He was carted off the field a week prior against Colorado, so this was Peyton Bender's game to start -- and it didn't go well against a Husky team peaking at exactly the right time.

Bender's individual numbers were decent -- 288 passing yards -- but the Cougars lost five fumbles and two interceptions. It's not rocket science: Seven turnovers are a recipe for disaster on the road.

So, long story short: Washington State would like to take another bite out of the Apple Cup, this time with a healthy starting quarterback, at home.

The Cougars will get that chance in this game to close out the 2016 regular season.

Despite the late blowout loss to the Huskies, there's still every reason to believe Washington State is moving in the right direction as a program. If they can carry over momentum from 2015's nine-win campaign, the Cougars are set to compete for the Pac-12 North title -- Falk and the supporting pieces (talented receivers and an improving defense) are there.

Washington is also undoubtedly on the up and up. Just today, in fact, I posted a piece about rising sophomore studs Myles Gaskin and Jake Browning, both of whom figure to make the Huskies a force to be reckoned with in 2016.

So, the next Apple Cup will pit a pair of ascending rivals. It also comes as a grand finale to the regular season. This would have been a blasphemous thought to utter only a few months ago, but I'm comfortable saying it now: There's a non-zero chance this game will have Pac-12 North title implications -- for one or both of the teams involved.

Nearly an entire season of football must be played between now and kickoff, but we're already amped for this one: There's nothing better than a November rivalry game potentially packing more than just a shot at bragging rights.