College Football Picks Week 3: 4 Pac-12 Players to Watch
The newly updated Pac-12 division in college football has produced some surprising results already this 2011 season.
Whether it be the dark horse Arizona State Sun Devils offensive production or the offensive explosion of Marshall Lobbestael out of Washington State, the Pac-12 has brought several fairly unknowns into the spotlight early on in this season.
Heading into Week 3 of the season, several Pac-12 players have the opportunity to showcase their talents once more, and though most won't be seen across the nation, they are sure to be talked about in post-game shows or on SportsCenter when the weekend is finished.
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What a year senior Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael is having. Through just two games this season, Lobbestael has thrown for 591 yards for seven touchdowns and is astoundingly accurate.
Lobbestael has a completion percentage of 74.5 percent and a rating of 217.14, good enough to have him third in the nation.
With an upcoming matchup against a San Diego State defense that is ranked 94th in the nation against the passing game, Lobbestael seems poised for another huge game and could definitely be in the talks for a Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honor.
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A big key to Arizona State's success early on this season has been their ability to get into the opponents backfield and put pressure on their quarterback. Junior linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been practically impossible for offensive linemen to handle this season, and it won't be any easier for Illinois on Saturday.
Burfict enters the game with four of ASU's six sacks through two games. The 6'3", 250-pound linebacker terrorized UC Davis in their first game racking up three of his sacks there and put up another five tackles including a sack in a victory over Missouri State last week.
Illinois ranks 85th in the nation in terms of sacks allowed so far this season with five, and it doesn't appear as though their line will have much luck stopping Burfict from getting into their backfield. Expect another big game out of SU's Vontaze Burfict this week.
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The Colorado Buffaloes have had a rude wake up call in their first two games as members of the Pac-12. Coming off a heartbreaking loss to Cal in overtime last week, expect the Buff's to come out gunning against lowly Colorado State this weekend.
Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen is coming off a huge game that saw him throw for 474 yards and three touchdowns last week, and Colorado fans should expect more of the same against State.
Colorado State is currently ranked in the top 15 schools in passing defense, but that is after playing New Mexico and Northern Colorado, and although their record doesn't reflect it, Colorado is a much better passing team than either of State's first two opponents.
Hansen threw for just 1,100 yards last season, and he is already over halfway to that mark just two games deep into the season. Considering their rushing game is virtually nonexistent, Colorado should be expected to give Hansen that many more reps come Saturday, and he should be set for another huge game through the air.
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It is very difficult to keep Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck off the list this week. Luck and the rest of his Stanford teammates meet the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday along with their horrendous pass defense.
The Wildcats sit 102nd in the nation in pass defense allowing on average, 288 yards through their first two games.
Luck hasn't had the best season so far, but that could all change against Arizona. He has looked a bit out of sorts out of the gate, but that is to be expected. After all, he is playing for a new coach this season.
This is not to say he isn't having a tremendous year, but in comparison to his Pac-12 counterparts, he is not having as stellar a year.
Luck comes into Saturday with a completion percentage of 68.5 percent with six touchdowns and 461 yards through the air. If Luck could ask for a game where he blows the opponent out of the water this year, Saturday in Tucson would be it.
The Wildcat secondary is not nearly ready for the fire that Luck is going to burn up and down the field on Saturday, and their high scoring passing attack won't help them out when Luck is crushing their secondary.
If you haven't considered Luck's first two games on the year satisfactory, then this week you will be happy to see the Andrew Luck you know and love back on the saddle and ready to lead the Cardinal back to victory once more.