It was deja vu all over again for Oregon State.
The Beavers started slowly -- 2-2 instead of the 2-3 start of the previous three seasons -- and finished fast.
And, for the second consecutive season, a loss to Oregon in the Civil War cost them the Rose Bowl.
Still, it would be fair to say that a fourth consecutive finish in the top-third of the Pac-10 has established the Beavers as a conference power instead of that cute little overachieving team in Corvallis. (We may have said that last year, too, but it won't be an issue in 2010.)
The key in 2009 was the play of quarterback Sean Canfield and the gradual development of a defense that replaced eight starters from 2008.
Canfield went from Lyle Moevao's backup in 2008 to first-team All-Pac-10 quarterback, while the defense overcame a mediocre pass rush and questionable secondary.
Offensive MVP -- Running back Jacquizz Rodgers
Rodgers not only rushed for 1,377 yards and 20 touchdown, he also caught 74 passes for 509 yards and a score.
Defensive MVP -- Linebacker Keaton Kristick
The first-team All-Pac linebacker led the Beavers with 87 total tackles and 7.5 tackles for a loss. He also grabbed two interceptions and forced a fumble.
Turning point -- The Beavers got off to their usual slow start, opening 2-2. They played fairly well in a victory at Arizona State on Oct. 3 but what turned out to be the season's crucial win was when they jumped all over Stanford the following weekend -- they led by 24 points at halftime -- and coasted to a 38-28 victory.
What's next -- The Beavers should again be in the thick of the Pac-10 race in 2010. The biggest offseason question is replacing Canfield, with sophomore Ryan Katz and Virginia transfer Peter Lalich the top candidates. The defense takes a couple of hits, most particularly Kristick, but it for the first time in three seasons will welcome back a strong core of experienced starters.