Adjusting for Inflation (or Deflation)

Later today, more than 900 Heisman voters will send in their ballots for this year's trophy, which will be awarded in New York City on Saturday night. Despite delivering a fourth quarter come-from-behind win against the nation's No.3 defense, it's becoming more apparent that Florida's Tim Tebow will not win a second straight Heisman.

This year's Heisman Trophy will likely go to Texas quarterback Colt McCoy or Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. Texas Tech's Graham Harrell is also a dark horse with Tim Tebow. All three Big 12 quarterbacks have posted ridiculous numbers, but it's fair to question the defenses they did it against.

We'll find out on January 8 if the offenses in the Big 12 are really all that. Or we'll find out what's been proven by the last two BCS national championships. The SEC defenses are the best in the nation.

Texas has the best defense in the Big 12 Conference. Nationally, the Longhorns rank No. 50 in total defense. Four Big 12 teams, including one of the conference championship participants, rank among the bottom 20 teams in the nation for total defense – Missouri, Iowa State, Texas A&M and Kansas State.

The SEC, on the other hand, has 11 of 12 teams with better defenses than Texas. In fact, all 11 of those teams rank in the top 40. Three schools rank in the top 10 and two more in the top 15. Only Arkansas ranks outside the top 40. The Razorbacks rank No. 73, which would be good enough for fifth best in the Big 12.

It should be noted, though, that six Big 12 teams rank in the top 12 for total offense nationally. All six teams are higher ranked than the Gators who have the SEC's best offense.

So, is it the offenses or the defenses?

The two conferences face each other only twice in the bowl schedule, but of course, one matchup is for the biggest prize when Florida and Oklahoma face off in the BCS Championship Game. Ole Miss and Texas Tech will meet in the Cotton Bowl.

Sooners' quarterback Sam Bradford is the favorite to win the Heisman on Saturday night. In conference games, he's thrown 30 touchdowns and he's averaging more than 15 yards a completion. But, the average pass defense ranking that Bradford has faced this season against conference foes is 103.3. That's the worst average national ranking of the four quarterbacks.

Quarterback Avg. Pass Def. Rank
TIM TEBOW, Florida 34.0
COLT McCOY, Texas 99.9
GRAHAM HARRELL, Texas Tech 102.6
SAM BRADFORD, Oklahoma 103.3

The quarterbacks and their statistics are all relative to the teams they play. In order to even out the playing field a bit, I've adjusted Tebow's numbers to the Big 12 defenses and Bradford's, McCoy's and Harrell's numbers to the SEC defenses.

The formula is simple. I've taken the ratio of Tebow's statistics in key categories to the averages of his SEC opponents and applied the ratio to the average numbers in the Big 12 to inflate his stats. Likewise, I've taken the ratio of the Big 12 quarterbacks to their conference opponents and applied them to the SEC's average numbers to deflate their statistics.

For example, Tebow passed for 190 yards per game in the SEC, which was 101.76% better than the SEC's average of 186.7 passing yards allowed per game. I multiplied 101.76% to the Big 12's 258.7 passing yards allowed per game to get 263.3 yards per game.

Here are the results…

  Completion % Yards/game TD INT
Tebow vs. SEC 66.1 190 16 2
Bradford vs. SEC 58.5 199.2 19.3 4.4
McCoy vs. SEC 66.8 222.8 12.1 5.8
Harrell vs. SEC 67.3 288.0 14.4 4.4

  Completion % Yards/game TD INT
Tebow vs. Big 12 75.1 263.3 24.3 1.8
Bradford vs. Big 12 66.5 348.4 30 4
McCoy vs. Big 12 76.7 303.4 18 6
Harrell vs. Big 12 62.3 258.7 29 4

Adjusting for inflation and deflation certainly evens out the playing field for these four quarterbacks - when it comes to passing. Tebow and McCoy are both on different levels than Bradford and Harrell when it comes to making things happen with their legs.

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