Why Matt Barkley Is a Better Bet for Heisman Than Collin Klein

Dave Radcliffe@DaveRadcliffe_Contributor IIIOctober 21, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans holds the sword  and conducts the band after the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 20,2012  in Los Angeles, California.  USC won 50-6.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Collin Klein has set the world on fire with his recent play, but Matt Barkley has a case of his own for the Heisman trophy, and it's better than that of the Kansas State trigger man.

Perhaps a direct result of a disappointing loss to Stanford on Sept. 15, the senior quarterback from USC seemingly dropped out of the Heisman race. Meanwhile, Kansas State and Collin Klein have come out of nowhere to put the Wildcats in contention for the BCS National Championship Game.

Klein's numbers are dazzling. He is second in the nation in passing efficiency at 175.8, and he also ranks in the top 10 in completion percentage (70.5).

In comparison to Barkley, he is ahead in each of these categories, as Barkley comes in at 13th in passer rating (164.1) and barely cracks the top 30 in percentage of passes completed. 

What has really launched Klein into the Heisman race is how much his passing has improved from a season ago. Instead of only being a threat on the ground, defenses now have to respect his arm, which makes Klein even more dangerous.

He hasn't done the old tuck-and-run as much as in 2011, but Klein has still racked up 551 yards and 14 touchdowns running the football, making him one of the most potent duel-threat quarterbacks in the country.

While Barkley has thrown for 22 touchdowns, good for third in the nation, Klein has accounted for 24 total touchdowns. 

All of these numbers for Klein are highly impressive, but they aren't enough to back up why he's a better pick for Heisman than Barkley, and here's why.

With Barkley being more of a traditional quarterback than Klein, he has thrown the football 74 more times than the Kansas State senior, so naturally, this helps make Klein look like a more efficient passer with fewer opportunities to make a mistake.

Klein benefits immensely from playing in the Big 12, a conference that features little to no defense. Aside from the defenses of Kansas State and Oklahoma, there is a lot left to be desired in the Big 12, and that makes things pretty easy on Klein.

Four of the top five quarterbacks in passing efficiency are from the Big 12, and it's not because they're the best in the business.

Meanwhile, Barkley plays in the Pac-12, which has a pretty strong case for being the second toughest conference in the country this season. Unlike the Big 12, the Pac-12 features several stout defenses.

Barkley may be 13th in the country in passer rating, but his numbers show that he is the best quarterback in the treacherous Pac-12

There are notable offense powerhouses like Oregon and USC, but on the other side of the ball, teams like Stanford, Oregon State and USC and Oregon themselves feature legitimate defenses.

The fact of the matter is if you planted Barkley into the Big 12, his numbers would be even more eye-popping. Klein has a huge advantage playing in the Big 12 while Barkley battles week in and week out against some of the tougher defenses in all of college football.

Even with what Klein has done with his feet, there should be a giant asterisk next to his name considering the competition he benefits from playing. 

A lot of credit has to go to Klein for helping lead his team to a 7-0 record, but with games remaining against Texas Tech, TCU and Texas, it will be difficult to navigate the rest of the schedule and stay on pace to play in a major bowl game.

Although USC has already dropped a game, it came early in the season, and the Trojans are currently one of the highest ranked one-loss teams. There is still plenty of football left to be played, and if USC can run the table the rest of the way, it will be in good shape to surpass Kansas State in the standings and therefore give Barkley a boost over Klein—and perhaps put USC back in the National Championship talks.  

With the way the schedule works out, the Trojans get to play Oregon and Notre Dame at home, and their other remaining games can essentially be chalked up as victories.

By defeating these highly ranked opponents, it would give Barkley a huge push in the Heisman race. Although Klein and the Wildcats have some prominent victories this season, none came against a Top Five opponent.

Barkley has the opportunity to beat two Top Five teams if their current rankings remain cemented.

Klein's numbers are hard to ignore, but the strength of the defenses both Klein and Barkley are going up against needs to be taken into account. In that regard, Barkley is performing at a higher level. 

Is Collin Klein currently ahead of Matt Barkley in the Heisman race? Absolutely. He may even be the front-runner.

But there's plenty of football left to be played, and that will benefit Barkley in the long run, making him a better bet to win the Heisman Trophy over Klein.