There is no debate.

Andrew Luck, if healthy, will be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft this April.

Fans of struggling franchises from Seattle to Miami want to see their respective teams "Suck for Luck" this fall and land the franchise quarterback in the spring.

Luck, the Stanford signal caller currently preparing to carve Colorado's defense up this Saturday on the road to a possible Heisman Trophy and Pac-12 championship -- would likely have been the first pick in the 2011 draft ahead of Cam Newton had he decided to turn pro.

Luck is being compared by scouts to John Elway, the No. 1 pick in the 1983 draft.

At the collegiate level, the current Cardinal QB has enjoyed much more success than No. 7, who won two Super Bowls but failed to lead Stanford to a bowl game.

"I'll tell you this: I think Andrew Luck is the best football player in the draft, without a doubt," Elway, currently the Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations, said during his radio show on 102.3 FM last December. "If that were to happen, then you're going have to have some very serious conversations of exactly which direction you want to go, whether it's with Tim (Tebow) or take a guy like Andrew Luck. To me, barring injury, he's going to be very successful in the NFL."

The Broncos, who had the No. 2 pick in 2011, were un-Lucky that the can't-miss kid decided to remain in school.

And so are the Buffs.


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CU, which has been ravaged by injuries at cornerback, drew a trip to Palo Alto in the program's inaugural season in the Pac-12.

Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, a backup entering the season, threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns against CU, including two scores in the final2:25 to lead the Cougars' dramatic 31-27 victory Saturday at Folsom Field.

Now Brian Lockridge and Jason Espinoza, offensive players being called upon by defensive coordinator Greg Brown to play cornerback, are preparing for Luck while still learning the basics at their new position.

"It's another week for me to play corner and be a well-rounded corner. It's time for me to get over being a novice and be an expert quick," Lockridge said after making his defensive debut against Washington State. "I've just got to give (Luck) a horrible look on my end. Make his job a little bit harder than he thought it would be.

"He's a good quarterback, and I expect him to come hard next week."

Luck has completed 71.4 percent of his passes (80-for-112) for 1,013 yards with 11 touchdowns and one interception this season. Five different Cardinal players have caught touchdown passes.

During No. 7 Stanford's 45-19 drubbing of UCLA on Saturday night, Luck made a one-handed reception down the sideline to add to his highlight reel.

"There's about five positions the guy can play," Stanford coach David Shaw said after Luck completed 23-of-27 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns. "We kind of like what he does at quarterback."

CU's defensive front, which is tied for fourth nationally with 17.0 team sacks, will have to pressure Luck early and often in order for the Buffs to have any chance of ending a 20-game, out-of-state losing skid at Stanford.

"It's obviously an awesome opportunity being a senior and getting to go to play Stanford," said CU defensive end Josh Hartigan, who is tied for 11th nationally with 4.0 sacks.

In two games this season against Pac-12 teams, including the 36-33 overtime, non-conference loss to Cal, the Buffs have allowed seven passing touchdowns and an average of 323.0 yards through the air.

After taking a 27-17 lead with 5:11 remaining, CU's defense bent and broke as Lobbestael completed 8-of-10 passes for 147 yards, including the game-winning 63-yard strike to a wide open Marquess Wilson with 70 seconds left.

"We don't have a choice, we have to come back strong," senior safety Anthony Perkins said. "After a game like this, there can be only one place to go, and we have to make sure we go up."

Luck, who decided to come back for his redshirt junior season because he is "committed to earning my degree in architectural design," won't wait until the fourth quarter to attack CU's weaknesses. He probably has a pretty good blueprint on how to beat the Buffs.

"I have never seen someone with that much football intelligence," UCLA safety Tony Dye told the Los Angeles Times. "He knows where you're going to be in the defense before the snap. So he already knows where he is going."