Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Oregon State fans still smarting from the Civil War implosion against Oregon should take heart in this: The Beavers have officially arrived, particularly if they beat Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl and finish ranked in the final top 25 for the third consecutive season, a boast that no other Pac-10 team other than USC can make.
And no other team in the nation can claim two victories over USC since 2002. Nor can any conference team claim five consecutive bowl victories.
Naturally, it didn't start out impressive -- the Beavers are addicted to validating low expectations early in the season.
Most projected the Beavers would finish in the middle of the conference because of obvious issues: The entire front seven from 2007 had to be replaced; things were unsettled on the offensive line; and it certainly wasn't clear positive production could be counted on at quarterback.
Some pundits probably felt smug when the Beavers started 0-2 and got walloped at Penn State, 45-14.
Then the Beavers got off the canvas and won eight of nine -- the lone defeat coming by three points at Utah (and it's still mind-boggling how the Beavers blew that one) -- before, er, that final game.
Turning point: It would be easy to flag the USC victory as the turning point, but it actually happened 12 days before when the Beavers kicked the crud out of Hawaii, 45-7, outgaining the Warriors, 485-211. Everything worked that day. This freshman named Jacquizz Rodgers scored two touchdowns and rushed for 112 yards, while quarterback Lyle Moevao passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
Offensive MVP: Hmm... who should this be? Let's go with Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, Jacquizz Rodgers, who finished with 1,253 yards and 11 touchdowns despite getting only four carries in the final two games. Rodgers was the point man -- 186 yards on the ground -- against USC, and he never let up.
Defensive MVP: It's a pity more folks don't know about "Hollywood" Victor Butler, who's one of the more outgoing and entertaining players in the Pac-10. Oh, and he's as quick on his feet as he is with a quip: His 16.5 tackles for a loss -- including eight sacks -- ranked fourth in the conference. He also forced three fumbles.
What's next: The Beavers lose a lot of good players: Receivers Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales, offensive linemen Andy Levitre and Adam Speer, ends Victor Butler and Slade Norris and all four starters in the secondary. It looks like a rebuilding year in 2009. Of course, the same was said of 2008. And with James and Jacquizz Rodgers returning, as well as quarterbacks Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield, it would be a mistake to count out Oregon State.