- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every game counts. But some games count more. Or tell us more.
We're going through the Pac-12 and picking out one game that seems most important -- or potentially most revealing -- for each team from our vantage point today.
And then we'll let you vote from a list of potential options.
We're going in reverse alphabetical order.
Most important game: at Washington, Nov. 29
Why it's important: Last year, Kevin nailed this, calling the opener at BYU the most important game. Perhaps it's more accurate to call it the "most telling." What that 30-6 loss told us was new coach Mike Leach wasn't some magical wizard who could instantly transform a program. There would be no quick fix.
So why is the Apple Cup now the most important game? After all, most see last year's 3-9 finish as horrid, even with the shocking Apple Cup overtime victory, which came complete with an 18-point fourth-quarter comeback.
Three words: Realism, momentum and schadenfreude.
Obviously, neither Kevin nor I believe the Cougars are in the North Division hunt. In fact, a bowl game seems like a long shot, at least based on the schedule. You look at that slate and you can easily predict a 2-3 start. You then see games the Cougars could win and some that seem are likely defeats. Do any of those games seem appreciably meaningful? Would upsetting Oregon be so satisfying that it was worth losing to California and Utah?
Yet beating Washington conceivably would mean this: 1. A second consecutive victory in the Apple Cup; 2. Momentum for 2014; 3. A major blemish for a Huskies team that is eyeballing the top-25.
In fact, if Washington State were to beat Washington and cap a disappointing season for the Huskies, it could make coach Steve Sarkisian's standing fairly precarious. Unrest on Montlake is always good in Pullman.
Even if the Huskies still rolled on to a nice bowl game, Coug fans should simply recall how bothersome it was losing six Apple Cups in a row from 1998-2003, including the 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons, when Washington State was a top-10 team and the Huskies were mostly struggling.
And then the Cougs, after blowing the Huskies a few raspberries, could turn their attention to bigger things in 2014.
6hChantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell