The X-factor: Five aspiring national champs and what each one needs

There have been 10 BCS championship teams to date, and each has been defined by its own unique flavor. One rode the shoulders of a near-unstoppable quarterback (Texas in 2005). One played things as close to the vest as possible (Ohio State, 2002). Others threw the ball all over the field (Florida State, 1999; USC, 2004) or suffocated opponents with their defenses (LSU, 2003; Florida, 2006).
An examination of statistics, however, reveals there are several common areas in which nearly every champion excelled. first examined the idea of a “national championship formula” in 2004, and our updated analysis simply backs up the conclusion we reached back then: Whether a team likes to run the ball or throw the ball, boasts a star quarterback or a caretaker, it doesn’t really matter. Nearly all national champions exhibit the following five characteristics:

• A dominant run defense. On average, the 10 national champions allowed fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground (96.7), with six ranking in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense.