It's always interesting to go back and look at the previous season's games to compare how important they felt at the moment to how important they ultimately were. For example, last year's loss to USC felt crushing. At the time, the team was riding high, had just beat Oregon on the road, and was ranked No. 10 in the country. The loss brought fans back down to reality. Ultimately, though, that loss didn't matter much - Arizona still won the Pac-12 South and still made it to a New Year's Six Bowl Game.
The Washington game, on the other hand, takes on even more importance in hindsight. At the time, Arizona had dropped two Pac-12 games (losses to USC and UCLA) and needed to win out to have even a remote chance at winning the Pac-12 South crown.
The game was mostly frustrating. It had its moments - Casey Skowron taking a fake field goal into the end zone for a touchdown, for example - but Arizona mostly looked sluggish. Going into the fourth quarter, Arizona was losing 26-21 to a barely bowl eligible Washington team. With less than two minutes to go, Washington had the ball and the lead and the win in their grasp. Even after fumbling away the ball while trying to run down the clock, Arizona's chances looked remote.
Then Casey Skowron totally redeemed himself. Skowron's missed field goal cost Arizona the win against USC, but he came back to nail a 47-yard field goal to win the game.
This win began a run that would lead to the Pac-12 South title. If Arizona had lost this game - or the next game to Utah, or the game after that to Arizona State - it would've fallen to 6-3 in the conference and lost the tie-breaker for the division to UCLA. That's the difference between a New Year's Six Bowl (like the Fiesta Bowl) and a Sun Bowl appearance.
Looking back, the Washington game was the tipping point. If Arizona loses to Washington, who knows how the team goes into the Utah and Arizona State games. Maybe there is less motivation without the chance to fight for the Pac-12 game, and maybe we're looking back at an entirely different season. Who knew that a win win against a mediocre Washington team on a last second field goal would be one of the most important wins of the season for Arizona.