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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Three-Man Race for the Heisman

The Heisman list has been realistically trimmed to three quarterbacks: Graham Harrell, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow. Here is the analysis of each.

1. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
Campaign Slogan: Mr. Exciting
Projected Stats: 389/551, 4828 YDs, 40 TDs, 7 INTs, 166 Rating
Team Record: 10-0
Games Remaining: Oklahoma, Baylor, Missouri*

Graham Harrell's Heisman campaign is conditioned upon his team's success. Put simply, if Texas Tech loses a game, Harrell will lose the Heisman. This is not Graham's fault, but rather his head coach's. Mike Leach has had a history of producing "system quarterbacks," who put up unrealistic numbers because of the Red Raiders' reliance on the passing game. Harrell is subject to the same criticism, having passed for over 14,000 yards and 119 TDs in his time with the Red Raiders. The only difference this time is that Texas Tech is in BCS National Championship contention. While this may seem unfair, Harrell knows exactly what must be done: win. If Graham can propel his team to three more victories, then he will undoubtedly win the Heisman, as the quarterback of an undefeated BCS conference team has hardly not won the Heisman.

2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Campaign Slogan: Mr. Consistent
Projected Stats: 269/396, 4115 YDs, 45 TDs, 8 INTs, 189 Rating
Team Record: 9-1
Games Remaining: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Missouri*

Sam Bradford will face the "Tim Tebow" dilemma this season -- he's too young to be this good. [Perhaps this would more aptly be described as the "Darren McFadden" dilemma, considering Tebow's success last season.] Bradford's quarterback rating is simply absurd for a BCS conference team. Tulsa's David Johnson and Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson are the only ones in Division I-A that are higher, and they are subject to the same "system quarterback" criticism as Harrell above. Bradford has been consistently impressive from game to game, with his only "blunder" coming against Texas -- a 28/39 performance for 387 yards, 5 touchdowns, and *GASP* 2 interceptions. Aside from that "poor" performance, Bradford has been unflappable, untouchable and, most importantly, unbeatable. If it weren't for the loss to the Longhorns, Bradford would be the hands-on favorite to take home the trophy in New York.

3. Tim Tebow, Florida
Campaign Slogan: Mr. Heisman
Projected Stats: 171/266, 2354 YDs, 21 TDs, 3 INTs, 163 Rating; 12 TDs (rushing)
Team Record: 8-1
Games Remaining: South Carolina, The Citadel (I-AA), Florida State, Alabama

Tim Tebow is the safe pick. He is the incumbent and the proven commodity. However, Tebow has been under a lot of pressure this season. As a returning Heisman winner, Tebow was under the spotlight and was subject to intense media criticism after his weaker performances early in the season. However, Timmy has been showing flashes of greatness as the season has gone on and, oddly enough, is now playing catch-up. While he is under incredible scrutiny, he is also granted a wide-level of leniency because of his conference. The SEC has been widely proclaimed as the toughest conference in college football and is known for its tough defenses. Regardless of their fictitious or real nature, Tebow has managed to put up some solid numbers against these "incomparable" defenses. Tebow also has the clearest path to the title game, as many experts have picked the Gators to be playing for the title game.

CFBN Prediction: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
Bradford has been phenomenal, but more importantly, consistent. Voters will be hesitant to give the award back to Tebow if he underperforms his sophomore season. Meanwhile, they will be reluctant to give the award to Harrell if he doesn't go perfect on the season. In order to go perfect, Harrell will have to go through Bradford and the Sooners. Here is where Harrell will fall. And here is were Bradford will win the Heisman.

* If Big XII South Champs

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