For Steve Sarkisian to prove he's the long-term answer at head coach for Washington he needs to continually improve the program and thus far, he's done that.
The Huskies improved by five wins his first season, then made a bowl game the next. They've gotten better at recruiting and better at winning ... at home. The UW still has a big problem winning on the road where they're 0-3 this season, 0-3 against the spread this season, and haven't won a game away from home in 13 months.
While a win at California this weekend wouldn't signify the end of the Huskies traveling troubles, it would be more than simply a step in the right direction. The Huskies would have a blueprint for success, and will have a great chance to win their final three road games, if they can take care of Colorado and WSU.
"It's not something to shy away from," Sarkisian said on Monday. "It's a great opportunity for our football team to mature, to take another step in the right direction of understanding the focus that is needed when you go on the road as a team."
Learning to win on the road is important, and would certainly show improvement, but the Huskies have a chance to make a much more tangible statement to prove they're better.
Winning at Cal would cement the Huskies as the second best team in the Pac-12 North behind Oregon - arguably the best team in the country. With wins over Stanford and Oregon State the Huskies have been steadily climbing the divisional ladder.
Beat Cal and all the Apple Cup is all that stands between the Huskies and wins over every divisional opponent sans the Ducks. And the benefits of that are incalculable.
It would mean that the Huskies move up a tier in the conference; it would mean that recruits from Northern California have a legitimate reason to leave the Bay Area in favor of Seattle.
Most importantly, it would mean that Sarkisian still had the program heading in the right direction because the Huskies were still improving, still heading down the path to Rose Bowls.