Oregon throttled Oregon State on Friday at Reser Stadium like the Beavers had stolen something and the only thought that came to mind was - so?
Win the upcoming bowl game. That's the only obstacle standing between Oregon and a what could be considered a successful season. Lose it and 2018 will be remembered as a big pile of disappointment with one oddly out-of-place moment of glory hidden in the middle.
Saturday's 55-15 shellacking at Reser Stadium was never close, never interesting and instantly forgetful. The unfair contest only further defined just how much work remains for OSU coach Jonathan Smith to elevate the Beavers (2-10, 1-8 Pac-12) to respectability, a level the program hasn't experienced since the 2013 season when Oregon State went 7-6 and ended the year with a 38-23 victory over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl.
That brings us back to the Ducks. They began this season 5-1 with a win over Washington that catapulted the Ducks to No. 12 in the nation and sparked hopes of a run at a conference championship. Then, reality sent in. The Ducks lost three of their next five games before landing in Corvallis to face the hapless Beavers. The win there brought the Ducks to 8-4 and 5-4 in conference. It's an improvement over last year's 7-5 regular season, sort of. But only if we choose to forget that the Ducks went 1-4 in five games missed by quarterback Justin Herbert.
In the end, the swagged out 2017 season that initially held promise went up in flames with Herbert's broken collarbone, coach Willie Taggart jetting off to Florida State and the Ducks losing badly to Boise State - sensing a theme - in the Las Vegas Bowl.
No matter what Oregon's record states, this season - which included a hideous non-conference field - was a regression under first-year coach Mario Cristobal. Heaven forbid that Herbert heads to the NFL because next season would have 5-7 written all over it.
Slap a bowl game loss onto the end of this season and the 2018 campaign would be be a real downer.
What happens next will tell everyone much more about the state of the Ducks' program. The bowl game opponent will certainly provide Oregon a shot at its second best victory of the season.
Of the team's eight victories this year, only three have come against teams with winning records heading into Saturday's action: Washington (9-3, 7-2), California (6-5, 3-4) and Arizona State (6-5, 4-4).
The other five wins came against teams (UCLA, San Jose State, Bowling Green, Portland State and OSU) that have a combined record of 13-44 with PSU (41-7) leading the way with four wins.
That's an ugly list. But a bowl victory would certainly dress up the season quite nicely.
OSU's last bowl victory, as stated before, came following the 2013 season. Oregon's came only a year later, in the Rose Bowl/College Football Playoffs over Florida State.
That was a whole two coaches ago. Last year was the first time Oregon had gone two years without a bowl game victory since losing the Rose Bowl following the 2009 season and then the national title game at the end of the 2010 season. No comparison, of course. The last time Oregon went three consecutive years without a bowl win was when the Ducks went through a five-year dry spell from 2003 through 2006.
That run led to the greatest run of success in program history starting with the 2007 season.
Maybe Cristobal and Oregon could start their own run at greatness with a bowl victory in December. Only such a win would make the 2018 season worth remembering.