It didn't start out like it was going to be one of the greatest seasons in Oregon football history, but every coach will tell you it's not where you start, it's where you finish.
And Oregon finished atop the Pac-10 and is headed to the Rose Bowl to play Ohio State.
It's testimony to good leadership from first-year coach Chip Kelly and a solid locker room that the Ducks held together after being embarrassed at Boise State, both by the performance during the game and by LeGarrette Blount's performance afterward.
But the Ducks won seven in a row after that, including a 47-20 beatdown of USC. And when they slipped at Stanford, they immediately bounced back with wins at Arizona and against rival Oregon State to win the conference title.
Offensive MVP -- Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli
It's understandable why so many Oregon fans are bent about Masoli not being first-team All-Pac-10. He's about more than his numbers running the Ducks' spread-option offense. Masoli completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,066 yards with 15 touchdowns and he rushed for 659 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Defensive MVP -- Defensive end Kenny Rowe
This was a tough one because Oregon played great team defense this season. Still, Rowe's numbers stood out. He led the Ducks with 8.5 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss. He also forced three fumbles.
Turning point -- Oregon bounced back from its terrible performance at Boise State with wins over Purdue and Utah, but the Ducks truly broke through when they whipped No. 6 California 42-3 on Sept. 26.
What's next -- The Ducks should start the 2010 season ranked in the preseason top five, particularly if they beat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Nearly the entire two-deep returns, topped by Masoli and LaMichael James -- both of whom figure to make a number of preseason Heisman Trophy lists. A Sept. 11 visit to Tennessee should be intriguing.