College Football Rankings: Andrew Luck and the Best Pac-12 Quarterbacks

Pat MarrujoContributor IMay 22, 2011

College Football Rankings: Andrew Luck and the Best Pac-12 Quarterbacks

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal throws pass against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Stanford won 40-12. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Pac-12 has always been recognized as the conference of the quarterback. Everyone knows the best quarterbacks are out West.

    This season, the league has an interesting mix of gunslingers. There are Heisman candidates, a few first-year starters and plenty more rising stars.

    Being the first year of the Pac-12, everyone has something to prove. The starting quarterbacks this season have valuable opportunities to make their presences felt in the new-look conference.

    Here is how they stack up against each other.

12. Kevin Prince, Junior, UCLA

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    AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Kevin Prince #4 of the UCLA Bruins at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Rick Neuheisel has been searching for a capable quarterback ever since he has been the head coach at UCLA. Unfortunately for him, Kevin Prince is the very best he can come up with.

    Prince has battled injuries his whole career at UCLA, and his play has suffered.

    Last season, Prince only managed to make it through five games. Of those five games, he only threw for 100 yards in one.

    Prince’s lack of production may not be all his fault, though. His offensive line did not do much to protect the young quarterback last season.

    He was sacked 14 times in those five games last year.

11. Tyler Hansen, Senior, Colorado

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    BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 07:  Quarterback Tyler Hansen #9 of the Colorado Buffaloes rolls out to deliver a pass against the Texas A&M Aggies during NCAA college football action at Folsom Field on November 7, 2009 in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado defeated Texa
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    This two-year starter has not had much success at Colorado thus far. Hansen has had lackluster statistics and is still yet to play a full season.

    Last year, Hansen threw for just 1,102 yards, and six touchdowns through seven games.

    His statistics do not turn many heads.

    Luckily for Colorado, quarterback should not be the focal point of the offense. Running back Rodney Stewart is the obvious superstar on that side of the ball.

10. Zach Maynard, Junior, California

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Head coach Jeff Tedford of the California Golden Bears watches his team play their game against the Stanford Cardinal at California Memorial Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Imag
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Zach Maynard has recently been named the starting quarterback by head coach Jeff Tedford.

    Maynard is a transfer who will be taking his first snaps for the Golden Bears this fall. Before he transferred, he was the starting quarterback at Buffalo, where he had mediocre numbers.

    In his last season there (2009), he threw for 2,694 yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

    Do not be surprised if Maynard does not make it through the entire season. California is losing its best offensive weapon from a season ago in running back Shane Vereen. There could be a lot more added pressure for the quarterbacks to succeed this season.

9. Keith Price, Sophomore, Washington

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    EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 06: Quarterback Keith Price #17 of the Washington Huskies scrambles out of the pocket in the third quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks won the game 53-16. (P
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    I wish I could place Price higher on this list, but it is hard to judge a player who has had such limited playing time.

    When Price did play last season as a freshman, he looked solid. He is a very athletic quarterback who can throw the ball with accuracy.

    Do not be surprised if Price finds his name in the top half of this list at the end of the season.

    He and his team have plenty of potential and could be the surprises of the Pac-12 in 2011.

8. Jordan Wynn, Junior, Utah

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    SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20:  Quarterback Jordan Wynn #3 of the Utah Utes throws a pass against the San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium on November 20, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    This may seem rather early to see Wynn’s name pop up on this list, but hear me out.

    The biggest concern surrounding the Utah program is whether or not it will be able to handle the Pac-12 schedule. Tough games every weak, and no more cupcake conference opponents against Wyoming.

    Against the two toughest opponents on Utah’s schedule last season, TCU and Notre Dame, Wynn played poorly. In the two games, he threw for just a combined 242 yards with only a single touchdown and three interceptions.

    I am curious to see how Wynn will play against some of the tougher defenses in the conference.

    Clearly, I do not expect huge numbers.

7. Ryan Katz, Junior, Oregon State

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    CORVALLIS, OR - DECEMBER 04:  Quarterback Ryan Katz #12 of the Oregon State Beavers throws a pass against the Oregon Ducks during the 114th Civil War on December 4, 2010 at the Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Ryan Katz was Mr. Inconsistency last season. At times he looked like a future all-conference quarterback, while other times he looked like a UCLA quarterback.

    Katz is a decently mobile quarterback with a big-time arm. At times his accuracy is excellent, and at others it is not. That is exactly the issue with the young quarterback.

    With Jacquizz Rodgers gone, Katz will probably become the focus of the offense. That means it is time for him to show up.

    This is a make or break season for Katz.

6. Brock Osweiler, Junior, Arizona State

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    TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 02:  Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates after defeating the Arizona Wildcats in college football game at Arizona Stadium on December 2, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Wildc
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    As the hype surrounding Arizona State football keeps getting louder, so does the hype about Brock Osweiler.

    Osweiler ended the 2010 season red hot. After taking over for the injured Steven Threet, he went on to throw 647 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in winning efforts over the last two games of the season.

    He is not what you would typically expect from a 6’8”, 242-pound quarterback. Osweiler does have a cannon for an arm, but he is also very mobile.

    With nine starters returning on his offense, including the entire offensive line, there are plenty of reasons to be confident in Osweiler next season.

5. Jeff Tuel, Junior, Washington State

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    PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 23:  Jeff Tuel #10 of the Washington State Cougars passes the ball against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Considering that he played on the worst team in the conference and was sacked 48 times last season, the numbers that Jeff Tuel put up were unbelievable.

    Tuel threw for 2,780 yards and recorded 18 touchdowns through the air last season.

    He is a solid pocket passer with underrated speed who is at his best when he is throwing the deep ball.

    Last year, wide receiver Marquees Wilson showed the Pac 10 what he was all about. He is Tuel’s No. 1 target, and they are one of the most underrated QB/WR tandems in the country.

4. Nick Foles, Senior, Arizona

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    TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 02:  Quarterback Nick Foles #8 of the Arizona Wildcats throws a pass against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the college football game at Arizona Stadium on December 2, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcat
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Nick Foles made Wildcats fans very happy when he decided that he would return for his senior season. He is the person who makes their offense flow.

    Foles is a pure pocket passer who will pick defenses apart if they cannot get pressure on him. He has excellent accuracy and tends to make good decisions.

    Last season, Foles threw for 3,191 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, he ended the season on a very sour note.

    His Wildcats lost their last five games of the season, including a heartbreaker against Arizona State and an embarrassing bowl loss to Oklahoma State in which Foles threw three interceptions.

3. Matt Barkley, Junior, USC

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 30:  Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans rolls out of the pocket against the Oregon Ducks at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 30, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    I am waiting and dreading the day that Matt Barkley breaks through and finally starts playing up to his full potential.

    He has it all. The strong arm, accuracy and even some speed. Unfortunately for the Trojans, he has not put it all together quite yet.

    That being said, Barkley was still great for USC last season. He threw for 2,791 yards, 26 touchdowns and had a quarterback rating of 141.2.

    Barkley had a tad of a turnover problem in the past. Last season, he had five games in which he threw multiple interceptions. However, if he can get this problem under control, we could be looking at a Heisman-caliber player.

2. Darron Thomas, Junior, Oregon

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Darron Thomas #1 of the Oregon Ducks scrambles against the Auburn Tigers during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/G
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    I might catch a little heat for this one.

    In my opinion, Darron Thomas is clearly the second-best quarterback in the conference. This is a list based on how good the player is in college, not their pro potential.

    Thomas was a machine last season for the Ducks. He threw for 2,881 yards and 20 touchdowns, while only throwing nine picks.

    Also, Thomas is the leader of the most dominant offense in the country. He has to make big-time reads and runs a very complicated system.

1. Andrew Luck, Stanford

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after he threw a 38-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Virginai Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miam
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    It is tough to find a college football ranking on this website in which Andrew Luck is not No. 1. The reason is that this guy has it all.

    His arm is among the strongest in the nation, he can hit any target, he is speedy and he can even truck a defender or two.

    Luck threw for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns, both of which were the best in the conference.

    The runner-up for the Heisman last season, Luck is thought to be the early favorite for the award entering the 2011 season. If he can overcome the loss of his head coach and two top receivers, I don't see who else could be more deserving.