After standing on the sidelines for his last college game, Oregon State senior flanker James Rodgers greeted fans waiting outside Autzen Stadium and signed autographs.
''You've been a joy to watch,'' said one fan who shook Rodgers' hand.
The Beavers' disappointing season ended on Saturday after a 49-21 loss to No. 9 Oregon in the 115th Civil War. Rodgers was on the field for pregame warm-ups, but clearly wasn't in shape to play because of a left ankle injury. Coach Mike Riley made the call.
''(It was) obviously tough for James, with today being his last college game. However, we weren't about to put him at risk today and I didn't think twice about that decision,'' Riley said.
The Beavers' season has been a series of disappointments, starting with a slew of injuries in fall camp and concluding with the loss to the Ducks, who clinched the Pac-12 North and earned the right to host the first Pac-12 championship with the win.
Oregon (10-2, 8-1) will play UCLA next Friday night with a Rose Bowl berth on the line.
The Beavers (3-9, 3-6) won't play in a bowl game for the second straight season.
LaMichael James paced Oregon early, running for 142 yards and the opening touchdown, but left the game in the third quarter after falling on his left elbow as he was knocked to the turf by Beavers linebacker Tony Wilson.
The Ducks' junior running back was already wearing a brace on his right elbow, which he dislocated on Oct. 6 against California. He missed two games because of that injury.
Not long after he left the field on Saturday, James' elbow was wrapped in ice by a trainer. The injury did not appear to be serious because he danced a bit on the sideline with teammate Kenjon Barner during the timeout before the fourth quarter. Later he said he'd be fine for the title game.
Darron Thomas threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Versatile freshman De'Anthony Thomas has 197 all-purpose yards, including an 8-yard TD reception.
Redshirt freshman Sean Mannion threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns for the Beavers. But Oregon State struggled on the ground with just 16 yards rushing, compared to Oregon's 366.
''Oregon is really, really a good football team. They're very resilient. Like we said, early they didn't convert some stuff, but nothing seems to faze them,'' Riley said. ''As we all talked about before, their ability to stretch you with their speed is very, very evident. (DeAnthony) Thomas was really a major, major factor in this game.''
James scored early on a 1-yard run, becoming Oregon's all-time leading scorer with 324 points.
The Beavers tied it at 7 when Jovan Stevenson grabbed a swing pass from Mannion and weaved his way downfield for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
Before the half, though, Oregon scored on Darron Thomas' 16-yard pass to David Paulson and his 8-yard pass to De'Anthony Thomas.
Darron Thomas hit Kenjon Barner with another 16-yard TD just before halftime to make it 28-7. Barner ran a yard for another score in the third quarter, and Thomas connected with freshman Colt Lyerla for a 39-yard touchdown early in the fourth.
Mannion threw two TDs in the fourth quarter to Kevin Cummings (19 yards) and Brandin Cooks (23 yards).
''I'm really proud of all our guys. I think we fought hard the whole game,'' Mannion said. ''We've got a lot of days until next year, and we're going to work hard every day. We're just going to keep working hard to get better.''
Rodgers hurt his ankle last week in Oregon's State's 38-21 victory over Washington.
In 2007, Rodgers scored on a fly sweep in overtime to give the Beavers a 38-31 victory in the Civil War. Oregon State has not defeated their in-state rival since then.
After hurting his left knee last season, Rodgers had two surgeries. Oregon State had appealed to the NCAA to allow him return this season. He finishes his career at Oregon State with school records in career receptions (222) and all-purpose yards (6,377).
''I felt bad that this was James' last game of his collegiate career and he didn't get an opportunity to get out there and play,'' Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. ''The way he came back from that injury he suffered last year is incredible, I have so much respect for him as a player. He is one of the greatest all-time at Oregon State and he will always be remembered.''
The Ducks have won four straight Civil Wars. Oregon's winning streak in the series is its longest since 1994-97.