When is it too early to start dissecting the 2017 football schedule? Whenever it was, it is behind us…
We're taking a look at some of the most important games each Pac-12 team has waiting for it in the fall: the must-wins and the trap games. Next up: Washington
Must-win game: Nov. 4 vs. Oregon
The Huskies won't face USC during the regular season so the only chance they'll have to avenge the only conference loss of 2016 would come in a potential Pac-12 Championship Game. So, the attention turns toward the important matchups in the North and what those games mean for division implications, recruiting challenges and rivalries. And when all that is taken into account the matchup with the Ducks in Seattle is going to be a must-win. The Huskies broke Oregon's 12-year win streak last year and backing that up in 2017 is going to be huge. Washington needs to prove that its win -- and how convincingly it won -- in 2016 was not just a flash in a pan, but the start of (what the Huskies hope is) a 12-year tenure of their own. That starts in 2017 in Seattle against an Oregon team that, with a new staff and plenty of returning talent, is feeling reinvigorated and out to prove some people (cough, Washington) wrong.
Trap game: Oct. 14 at Arizona State
Washington's schedule is back loaded, which in some ways is good because it gives the Huskies time to ease into their schedule and establish a cohesion that won't be tested right out of the gates. The first seven weeks of the season feature a soft nonconference slate and then Pac-12 games against Colorado, Oregon State, Cal and Arizona State. Facing the Buffs in Boulder is no easy task, but it'll be the only real test during the first half of the season. And after ASU? The Huskies get a bye week then turn their attentions to UCLA-Oregon-Stanford-Utah-Wazzu, a stretch that will likely prove to be far more challenging than the first half of their schedule. But with that off week and tough slate looming, the Huskies could catch themselves looking ahead of the Sun Devils during that October road trip to Tempe. Todd Graham and his team -- with some new faces on the staff -- will be looking to pick up some upset wins and who better to upset than the reigning Pac-12 champs? The Sun Devils will be amped up for this game and Washington, if caught looking ahead, could be prime for an upset in the desert.