There was a 50-point swing on the Reser Stadium scoreboard from the 2016 Civil War and the latest edition of the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry.
Mark Helfrich and his tenured staff were fired following a 10-point loss (34-24) to the Beavers two years ago, capping a bitter 4-8 season.
Mario Cristobal, the Ducks’ third head coach in as many years, walked off the same field following the Oregon’s 40-point demolition (55-15) of Oregon State last Friday with an 8-4 finish to his first season.
”It's hard to deny that there's a ton of progress,” Cristobal said.
Willie Taggart also made progress in 2017, but left for Florida State after raining touchdowns on the smack-talking Beavers during the 69-10 win at Autzen Stadium.
“You think about what happened two years ago in that game. I hate to bring it up again, but I read so many articles about shiny raincoats and all that other stuff and I'm like, ‘What are we talking about here guys?’” Cristobal said of the much-discussed collapse in Corvallis. “Shiny raincoats come out and Oregon gives up a 10-point lead, and being accused of what a football player wants to never be accused of, of being soft.
“Those words, they dig pretty deep now. Those things aren't forgotten so easily. That was a huge point of emphasis.”
Cristobal pointed to the near-miss against Stanford and the victory over Washington as tangible evidence that the Ducks (5-4 Pac-12) are more competitive against the best programs in the North Division.
Winning on the road is still an issue for Oregon, which finished 2-3 outside the friendly confines of Autzen.
Cristobal, who lost to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl in his debut as Oregon’s coach last December, is looking forward to one more opportunity for the 2018 Ducks to beat a quality opponent in a bowl game.
“Now getting our eighth win and a chance to go get a ninth, we feel really good about the direction we're heading and how fast we're headed there,” Cristobal said. “Not to mention the amount of players that we have returning and that recruiting class that's being put together.”
Cristobal and his assistants are on the road recruiting this week ahead of the early signing period on Dec. 19. With 21 verbal commitments, Oregon’s 2019 class is ranked third nationally by Rivals behind Alabama and Texas A&M.
Washington is the only other Pac-12 team with a projected top-25 class.
If quarterback Justin Herbert, whose younger brother Patrick is a member of the touted incoming class, decides to return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft, the Ducks will be on the short list of Pac-12 favorites in 2019.
“We know what the future holds, so we're ready to get after it,” Cristobal said.