CORVALLIS — Oregon State players, coaches and fans all probably had the same thought when they woke up Sunday morning.
In assessing the damage from the Beavers' 48-24 loss to Oregon in Saturday's Civil War, there is really only one thing that can be said: "This is getting old."
Saturday afternoon at Reser Stadium, in a game hyped as a potential upset, OSU lost again to Oregon. That makes it five years in a row. For another 12 months, players, fans and coaches will have to deal with taunts from Oregon fans about the Beavers being Oregon's "little brother" in an in-state rivalry that has turned alarmingly lopsided.
And while it's surely frustrating for the Beavers to watch the Ducks (most likely) qualify for their fourth consecutive BCS bowl, the Beavers have a few positives to take away from this Civil War postgame.
For one, Oregon State itself will be bowling. It's unclear yet if the Beavers will be headed to the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl, but this is still a dramatic improvement when you consider the last two seasons.
Perhaps more importantly, the Beavers get a rare chance to take out their anger on someone else, and they only have to wait six days to do it.
"I think it's a good thing (that there's another game)," said senior receiver Markus Wheaton. "Coming off a loss like this, I can't wait to get back on the field. Last year we had to end on this and think about it all year."
There is nothing better after a bitter loss than a nice, hard practice or another game. Just ask the Ducks, who took their frustration from a 17-14 upset loss to Stanford and used it to fuel them to a big road win over the Beavers.
And with that, it's time to say this: Sorry about your timing, Nicholls State.
Mike Riley is often referred to as "the nicest guy in college football," and it's an accurate description. He greets everyone with a smile and might be the friendliest person on Oregon State's campus.
But next Saturday when the Colonels come to town, in a game rescheduled from Sept. 1, it would be smart of Riley to drop the smile.
His guys are hurting, frustrated that they blew a big opportunity. Let them take it out on someone for a half, then throw in all the young guys. Let fans get a glimpse of the future while veterans turn their attention to Oregon State's bowl opponent.
Lots of teams in the Pac-12 would happily trade places with Oregon State, which should finish the regular season with a 9-3 record.
It's easy to lament the "what ifs" and "shoulda, coulda, wouldas" from this season (how on earth did the Beavers lose to Washington, anyway?), but in August, no one would have predicted a potential 10-win season.
Oregon State players shouldn't completely forget the taste of yet another Civil War defeat. The sting should push them all of December, as they prepare to match up with some team from the Big 12. Projections have them facing either Texas Tech or Oklahoma State in one of the aforementioned bowls.
And when the Beavers meet that team at the end of the year, they can let another loss to their in-state rival motivate them.
But first up, it's Nicholls State. There should be nothing nice about it.