Looking at the big picture for OSU in 2012

NOW THAT A few days have gone by after the Beavs' loss in the Alamo Bowl to Texas, the big picture on what the 2012 season means has come into sharp focus. And the central point that emerges is…

Oregon State effected a monumental turnaround.

No one -- nobody -- topped the Beavs plus-6 win differential in 2012 from the season before.

Sure, the Alamo Bowl loss stings because the Beavs outplayed Texas the majority of the game.

There was the bowl game coaching flub of not calling the timeout at the end of the first half. The defense tired in the second half and was down a couple key rotation members on the d-line because they got themselves suspended. The o-line couldn't pass block, at all, down the stretch. The quarterback had a bad day.

But that can't trump all that came before it in the 12 game regular season.

Oregon State was picked to finish dead last in the North before the season began in the Pac-12 media poll. Last. No hope of getting to six wins. No hope for a bowl game.

Dead last.

Instead, Oregon State will finish ranked in the national Top 25 polls.

The Beavs were underdogs against their first three opponents with two of those games on the road.

Oregon State instead won all three. And for good measure, they won their next three to start the season 6-0 and became bowl eligible at their first opportunity.

The season wasn't perfect by any stretch, they never are. The losses at Washington and Stanford were tough to swallow. The Beavs again fell short in the Civil War. A bowl game win and a 10-win season were within their grasps but they were not to be.

But nine wins compared to but three the year before?

That's good stuff, and even the most hard to please among us should embrace it for all its worth.

USAToday newspaper predicts that, "The Pac-12 has five teams in the final top 25 and is the nation's strongest league" in 2013.

With the Beavs returning several key members off a 9-win team, they would figure to be one of the five.

So that's something else to embrace headed into the new year.

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