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Must-win and trap games of 2017: Washington State Cougars

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 State

Must-win game: Boise State, Sept. 9

After losses to FCS opponents to begin each of the last two seasons, the Cougars’ opener against Montana State deserves some consideration here if for nothing else than to end an unfortunate, puzzling streak. Still, we’ll go ahead and pencil that in as a win for the Cougs. The following week is when the Cougars really have a chance to get the season headed in the right direction when Boise State goes to Pullman. It’s the second of five straight home games in September alone and could present the rare opportunity for the Cougars to secure a nonconference win against a ranked opponent. WSU has to feel like it has a good shot to be 4-0 when USC arrives at the end of the month.

Trap game: at Cal, Oct. 13

The trip to Cal has all the makings of a trap game: It’s the second of back-to-back road games, it’s on a short week (Friday) and it’s against a team WSU is better than on paper. And for Cal, it’ll be viewed as a winnable game. Bears offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin coached Eastern Washington to a win against the Cougs last year and by that point in the season Cal should be comfortable in the schemes installed by new coach Justin Wilcox’s staff.