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Mike Riley will start Cody Vaz over Sean Mannion against Arizona State

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer
Cody Vaz (No. 14) will be starting in place of Sean Mannion against Arizona State. (US Presswire)

Oregon State coach Mike Riley is not interested in dealing with a week-long quarterback controversy in Corvallis. On Monday, the Beavers' coach named Cody Vaz the starting quarterback for Saturday's night's Pac-12 showdown with Arizona State.

"It's pretty obvious we think Cody's playing a little bit better right now and deserves to start," Riley said Monday. [via The Oregonian]

Riley explained that Vaz will reclaim the starter's role for "the integrity of the competition." Sean Mannion missed two games after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, but returned early to start at Washington on Saturday night. After Mannion threw four interceptions against the Huskies, Riley benched Mannion and Vaz took over the quarterbacking duties.

Vaz completed seven of 11 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown while leading a comeback charge for the previously undefeated Beavers, but he ultimately fell short in a 20-17 Washington victory. The junior has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 603 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in roughly nine quarters of action this season.

Mannion's struggles may have been rust, or injury-related -- but I'd bet we have not seen the last of him this season. Before suffering the knee injury Mannion did lead Oregon State to a 4-0 start. The sophomore threw for 350-plus yards in road wins against UCLA and Arizona, and oddly enough struggled only against Washington State -- his last action before the injury was confirmed.

A win over Arizona State is necessary for the Beavers to stay in the hunt for the Pac-12 North title. Considering Oregon's hot start, Oregon State cannot afford to lose another conference game before hosting this year's Civil War on Nov. 24. As long as the Beavers only have one conference loss heading into that game, then a victory will likely send them to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Any other slip-ups along the way, and they will need some help to jump their in-state rivals in the standings.

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