EUGENE - Realization that change must occur might have come sometime between the five straight touchdowns.
Oregon State football coach Mike Riley watched his team keep the 115th Civil War close for more than a quarter, and then witnessed another systematic unraveling.
Oregon dominated the Beavers 49-21 on Saturday before a sold-out crowd of 59,802 in Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks once again showed they were the class of the Pacific-12 Conference as they won their way into the first conference title game.
Riley stated this week he wanted to get back to where the Civil War has national implications for both teams.
That's not going to happen for a long time - at least with the way the Beavers (3-9, 3-6) are going. They just completed their second straight losing season with a thud.
"This is disappointing," Riley said. "I thought we improved enough to compete in a ballgame today."
OSU just didn't have the athletes to keep up with the Ducks (10-2, 8-1). They were faster, stronger, more efficient and more experienced.
Riley, however, believes he does have the personnel to compete in the near future.
"I really do," he said.
The Beavers went with a young team this year, so many times it looked like the junior varsity playing the varsity.
Recruiting failures in 2006-07 led to the current deficiency. Improved recruiting has been going on, but time is needed to develop those younger players.
Riley was asked after the game if the difference in the score symbolizes the distance between the two programs.
"I hope not," Riley said. "I'm going to look at this thing real hard, and be realistic. I'm not going to look at it with rose-colored glasses. It's a valid question, but we may not be that far away."
Was that a hint change may be on the way?
The Beavers gave up a whopping 670 yards on defense. The offense did nothing with two touchdowns coming in garbage time.
Riley fielded enough questions about his schemes and play calling this season to make him think. He's asking himself if the program is going in the right direction.
The Beavers have been on a slide since 2006 with decreasing returns of wins with 10, 9, 9, 8, 5 and 3.
"It's tough to go out this way," senior safety Lance Mitchell said. "It's not what we planned. We didn't plan for the season to go like this either. But that's how it happened."
The Beavers must start with the offensive line and running game that gained 16 yards against the Ducks.
Quarterback Sean Mannion was sacked six times for a loss of 41 rushing yards, so there was really 57 positive yards, 39 coming from running backs.
"We'll spend a lot of time between now and spring ball talking about that very thing," Riley said. "It was a major factor in what we did this season, or didn't do."
Riley likes his running combo of Terron Ward and Jovan Stevenson, and three offensive linemen in Colin Kelly, Josh Andrews and Grant Enger return.
There are other linemen such as Michael Philipp and Roman Sapolu ready to fill in. Unless there's a new approach, it won't be enough.
"We have the people," Riley said. "It's all about developing them."
The Beavers did all the things they couldn't do to keep the game close. And there were the same recurring problems with turnovers and a lack of execution.
Play calling was predictablly pass-heavy because of the need to catch up. Mannion was a sitting duck in the pocket with no running game.
He still has a huge upside, but played like the freshman he is in the game. Mannion completed 27 of 44 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions and a fumble.
The defense started out strong when it stopped the Ducks on downs four times early in the game. The effort was there, but the Beavers ran out of steam.
Senior outside linebacker Cameron Collins dismissed the idea that they don't have the athletes to compete.
"Football comes down to making plays, and they made more plays than we did," Collins said. "They got their guys in space and we didn't contain them."
The Beavers showed they have potential even after this type of season. There was something to build off of in the three wins.
All those young players will get better. Experience to learn how to win and time in the weight room will do that.
"I liked this team for the fact they kept working," Riley said. "It didn't amount to much considering the result of the game. They improved and kept a good attitude."
Still, something must change for results to improve because the current approach is not working.
There's a long offseason ahead to figure out what.
Cliff Kirkpatrick covers the Oregon State football team for the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffgt.