It's too soon to tell whether Oregon State's victory over the USC Trojans helped the Beavers prolong their season, but it did help boost the team for the considerable task ahead.
Namely, No. 7 Stanford and No. 1 Oregon.
"When the players set their mind to doing something, then I know we can be a really good football team" quarterback Ryan Katz said.
The Beavers (5-5, 4-3 Pac-10) had a two-game losing streak going into Saturday night's game over the Trojans, but they focused in for a 36-7 win and knocked USC out of the AP Top 25.
The victory helped Oregon State's efforts for a bowl bid but ultimately it may not be enough — unless the team can put together the same kind of all-around effort against either the Cardinal and the Ducks, or both.
"It should not have taken a couple of losses to get our team going, but unfortunately it did, and we have to take it game-by-game," Katz said. "We have said it all year. We are tired of talking about it, and we need to just go out there and so it."
The Beavers visit Stanford this Saturday before hosting Oregon in the annual Civil War rivalry game on Dec. 4.
Oregon State has gone to four straight bowl games, and the team has had a postseason six of the last seven years.
This year the Beavers had a pair of tough non-conference losses — to TCU and Boise State — to start the season. While it looked as if the team might be experiencing one of its famous second-half surges after a victory on the road against then-No. 9 Arizona, the Beavers were thrown off by a difficult double-overtime loss at Washington.
The team lost three of four games going into the victory over USC. Along with Washington, Oregon State lost to UCLA and lowly Washington State.
"The guys went back to work and got ready for a game," coach Mike Riley said. "That's what we asked everybody to do, to get ready for a game. Don't worry about what happened, what's going to come in the future. Don't worry about it."
Katz threw for 154 yards and two touchdowns against the Trojans, while Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 128 yards and a score — after averaging just 78 yards in losses to the Bruins and the Cougars.
The Trojans appeared on the rise with victories against Arizona State and at Arizona. The defeat to the Beavers was more than just a setback, USC also lost quarterback Matt Barkley to a high ankle sprain, which could keep him out of the team's two season-ending rivalry games against Notre Dame and UCLA.
Barkley, who was hit in the first half and returned for the second to watch on crutches from the sideline, was hopeful afterward that he could return to finish out the season.
"Thanks for the love and support everybody," Barkley posted on Twitter on Sunday. "Now's the time when we truly need to Fight On and push through adversity. Beat the Irish!"
Barkley leads the Pac-10 with 25 touchdown passes. Senior Mitch Mustain, a senior who transferred from Arkansas, took over for Barkley against the Beavers.
"We won't overreact over one game either way," USC coach Lane Kiffin said. "Last week, we weren't the greatest team with no problems, and this week we're not the worst team with a million problems."