It never rains at Autzen Stadium, but the head coach of the home team almost turned on the waterworks before the regular-season finale.

Mario Cristobal hugged it out with each of the 26 seniors who walked out of the tunnel during Saturday’s emotional pregame parade, which began with walk-on linebacker Ben Gomes and ended with star quarterback Justin Herbert.

No. 14 Oregon kept its composure during a plodding 24-10 victory over rival Oregon State in front of a chilled-to-the-bone crowd of 56,243.

Cristobal’s voice finally cracked when asked about his postgame embrace with Herbert and the cathartic Civil War sendoff for the seniors.

“Is that the goal here today, I have to cry?” Cristobal said. “This football stuff, when it’s done right, it’s life changing. A guy like (Hebert), like all the other guys in this room, they are the right kind of people. It is what you want your son to be.”

The Ducks (10-2, 8-1) will play No. 6 Utah in the Pac-12 championship game Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (5 p.m., ABC).

The Utes (11-1, 8-1), who defeated Colorado on Saturday night in Salt Lake City to clinch the South Division, will likely move up to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings with Alabama’s loss at Auburn.

Oregon’s hopes of being selected for the national semifinals ended with last week’s 31-28 loss at Arizona State.

But this run for the Rose Bowl means a lot to the outgoing players who began their careers with a four-win season capped with a devastating loss in Corvallis.

“We beat Washington and we beat Oregon State this year. I’m super happy and I’m super stoked,” senior linebacker Troy Dye said. “And we beat Stanford. So it’s like, damn, hit all three of them.”

Oregon also ended a four-game losing streak to Washington State and took care of California during a 7-0 finish at Autzen.

Dispatching the Beavers (5-7, 4-5) to complete the North Division sweep was not easy.

Herbert was held to 18-for-30 passing for 174 yards and only one touchdown in his final home game, but Oregon’s spectacular kick return game and opportunistic defense saved the day.

“It’s a team effort,” Herbert said. “We’re fortunate the defense and special teams played so well, and I’m excited to get to Friday.”

One snap after Isaac Slade-Matatia nearly intercepted Tristan Gebbia — who made the start for injured quarterback Jake Luton — senior safety Brady Breeze recovered a fumble with 2:07 remaining to seal the win.

Jermar Jefferson lost possession while trying to hurdle junior cornerback Thomas Graham, who was credited with the first forced fumble of his career. It was also Oregon State's first lost fumble of the season.

“We’ve always said, ‘Offense, just put up seven points and we got you,’” Graham said. “ As a defense, we love when adversity hits and we get the opportunity to show everybody what we’re made of.

“Being able to do that was just amazing. I’m glad we were able to let the seniors go out the right way.”

Cyrus Habibi-Likio rumbled for a 20-yard touchdown with 1:15 remaining for Oregon’s first points of the second half.

Travis Dye led the rushing attack with 91 yards on 12 carries (7.6 yards per attempt), and CJ Verdell added 50 yards on 15 carries (3.3 per).

“We didn’t move the ball as well as we would have liked, but I thought we moved the ball when we needed to,” Herbert said. “And fortunately we won.”

Herbert almost delivered a clutch scoring drive earlier in the fourth quarter, breaking out for a 24-yard run and completing a 17-yard pass to Bryan Addison on a fourth-and-6.

With 7:24 remaining, Herbert’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Jaylon Redd, which would have extended the lead to 23-10, was ruled a touchback as replay showed the receiver lost the football before reaching the pylon.

On the ensuing drive, Gebbia completed a 4-yard pass to Jefferson, who Graham prevented from reaching the line to gain on fourth-and-5 at the 50-yard line.

“It’s been amazing and super great to see how the defense has grown and matured over the past four years since I’ve been here,” Troy Dye said. “It’s awesome to see how the young guys have stepped up big time, tremendously for this defense. It means a lot to this senior class because we have been through a lot.

“We played on one of the worst defenses in the nation and now we’re on one of the best defenses in the nation. I love all those guys and I’d do anything for them.”

It was the seventh time this season Oregon’s defense, which was abused by Arizona State freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels, held an opponent to 10 or fewer points.

After Troy Dye danced to “Shout” one last time with his teammates between the third and fourth quarters, the Beavers finally celebrate in the end zone.

Jefferson’s 19-yard touchdown scamper completed an 11-play, 87-yard scoring drive to get the visitors within 17-10 with 11:03 remaining.

Oregon State threatened on its previous drive, but after a timeout to set up a fourth-and-1 play from the Oregon 40, right tackle Brandon Kipper was called for a false start.

“Those guys will tell you that they still feel like they’ve got a lot of real good football left in them, and they keep getting better,” Cristobal said of Andy Avalos’ unit. “It was super impressive, and I’m proud of the defense today.”

Luton, a sixth-year senior who had 28 touchdowns and three interceptions for the Beavers this season, did not play due to an arm injury.

Gebbia was 26-for-40 passing for 243 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

The sophomore Nebraska transfer had more passing yards (95) than Herbert (82) at halftime, but the Ducks had a 17-3 advantage.

“It wasn’t that hard,” Graham said of adjusting on the fly to Gebbia after preparing to face Luton. “They ran the same scheme. It was just more about knowing they were going to run more shorter routes instead of going deeper.”

Mykael Wright gave Oregon a 10-3 lead with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Jevon Holland’s 25-yard punt return to the Oregon State 39-yard line set up Herbert’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson, who outmuscled safety David Morris for the football in the end zone.

Blake Maimone’s final three punts of the first half pinned the Beavers at their own 2-, 5- and 13-yard line.

“I already know Special K is going to take it to the house. Every time he touches the ball — touchdown,” Troy Dye said of Wright’s electrifying special teams score. “Kudos to him, kudos to all the guys who blocked for him. It takes 11 to get to the end zone.”

Herbert completed a 28-yard pass to Josh Delgado, and Habibi-Likio moved the chains on fourth-and-1 at the Oregon State 11-yard line before the Ducks’ opening drive bogged down in the red zone.

Camden Lewis’ 32-yard field goal made the score 3-0 with 8:26 left in the first quarter. The freshman placekicker missed a 24-yard try in the third quarter that would have made it a three-score game.

Gabbia completed a 16-yard pass to Trevon Bradford on fourth-and-1, but a touchdown run by Jefferson moments later was wiped off the scoreboard by a personal foul penalty against the Beavers.

Jordan Choukair’s 40-yard field goal tied the score 3-3 with 3:00 remaining in the first quarter.

“I’m proud of this group,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said after his team came up one win shy of bowl eligibility in his second season rebuilding the program. “I told them in the locker room after that I appreciate the resiliency and the battle of this team to compete in this game and throughout the season.

"I thought we had opportunities to respond in this game but didn’t quite get over the hump.”

Oregon will try to make the green and yellow confetti rain after a Pac-12 championship game at Levi’s Stadium for the first time since the Marcus Mariota-led Ducks won the title in 2014.

“Rose Bowl is a huge game,” Johnson said when asked about possibly making it to Pasadena by spoiling Utah’s playoff bid. “People are undermining that game, but we’re excited for that game and we’re ready to play in it.”

Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email podcast mailbag questions to rthorburn@registerguard.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.