Frustrating Night for Oregon State

Oregon State drops their first game of the 2012 season, losing 20-17 to Washington in Seattle...

SEATTLE: There are no In-N-Out's in Seattle.

Famously motivated by the opportunity to enjoy a Double-Double, animal style fries and a shake, Oregon State had been a perfect 3-0 on the road in 2012.

But with the most famous burger joint in the Emerald City a Dick's Drive In, Mike Riley didn't have that golden carrot to dangle.

It wouldn't have mattered anyway.

Oregon State lost for the first time in what had been a magical start to the 2012 campaign.

A 6-0 start before the game turned into a 6-1 record, a frustrating evening for the Beavers.

With the return of quarterback Sean Mannion, after he'd missed the last two games with a knee injury, the Beavers offense was expected to get back into rhythm.

It turned out to be their downfall for much of the evening.

Mannion threw four interceptions, the second one being the biggest loss of the evening. It didn't result in any points for Washington, but on that play, a beautiful throw from Mannion to Markus Wheaton, the Beavers lost their top target.

Wheaton was drilled by Washington safety Sean Parker, a questionable hit that could have been flagged for helmet-to-helmet contact, forcing the ball out of Wheaton's hands and into the grasp of Husky safety Justin Glenn.

The hit knocked Wheaton out of the game, and Oregon State couldn't reach the end zone until the 3rd quarter.

The Beavers had their chances, a tie game in the fourth quarter and a Mannion interception ending it.

Another drive after forcing a punt, and another drive ending with a Mannion interception.

"I think that probably will be the thing we regret the most, having the ball with some opportunities, and turning the ball back to them when we had scoring opportunities, if one or two would have turned into field goals, it makes a big difference," said Riley about the turnovers. "But Washington played well, they played hard, and they made some good plays."

That described Oregon State's play through the first six games, but while they played hard and made some good plays on Saturday, they didn't play well.

Turnovers hurt them, penalties hurt them and a lack of offensive continuity hurt.

After his fourth interception of the evening, Mannion was done, relegated to watching his backup, Cody Vaz, engineer a game-tying touchdown drive, then having to watch Vaz again try to tie, or win, the game in the final minutes.

"It was one of those things where I thought that it would just be good for our team," said Riley on the decision to bring in Vaz. "Cody made some good plays, almost made a couple there at the end."

Despite a 4-0 record as a starter before a knee injury cost him the last two games, the rust was evident and Riley went with Vaz.

"It was a little bit of a disappointment, obviously, but I support Cody and our team 100% no matter the circumstance and I support what's best for the team," said Mannion. "Would I have liked to play? Obviously, but at the same time I know it's about the team and not me. I'm behind Cody 110%." Vaz, who had beaten BYU and Utah the past two games while Mannion recovered, led the Beavers on a seven-play, 76-yard scoring drive, ending with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Connor Hamlet.

And after the Huskies went 63-yards to take the lead, Vaz had one last chance to create a full-blown quarterback controversy. Two passes for first downs put the Beavers at the Huskies 38. Then came two incompletions, a sack and another incompletion, and Oregon State's charmed life was no longer.

"(Its) very disappointing, very hard," said Riley. "The key deal now is our reaction to it, and where we go from here. We are just past the midway point of a lot of football left. We'll just get back to work on Monday, and I have a sense these kids will work very hard for next week's game."

A game that returns the Beavers to Reser Stadium, against an Arizona State that suffered a crushing defeat of their own on Saturday, losing on a field goal with no time left to UCLA.

The Beavers still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North, yet to face Oregon, who's a game ahead of them in the division, or Stanford, who they're tied with.

Wins the rest of the way still gives the Beavers a shot at the Pac-12 title, and would ensure the conference championship game is held in Corvallis.

But the Beavers, and Riley especially, need to sort out their quarterback situation. They need to tighten things up offensively. Answers on Wheaton's health need to come.

There are no In-N-Out's in Corvallis either, but that hasn't stopped the Beavers from being unbeaten at home.

And with four of the next five at Reser Stadium (assuming they still host Nicholls State), the Beavers could care less about burgers, fries and shakes.

They care about wins.

Brandon is in his eighth year with FOX Sports NEXT, currently as a National Recruiting Analyst and West Regional Manager. Prior to joining the FOX Sports NEXT Recruiting Team, he was a team recruiting writer.  He's been covering recruiting for the FOX Sports NEXT network since 2003.
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