I read an interesting article posted at SI.com by the folks from Cold, Hard, Football Facts:
I am curious whether there is any of the stats minded guys (or gals) around here who could be cajoled into seeing if the Passer Differential Rating correlation between winners and their ability to pass the ball and defend the pass transfers from the pros to college football. I find it fascinating that the single biggest predictor of success in the NFL is a team's ability to both pass the ball and defend the pass.
With the greater diversity of offenses in the college game that include both run first offenses as well as pass happy attacks there may be less predictive value for Passer Differential Rating in the NCAA, but it might provide anothe point in the debate over which offensive system is the "best."
Important also is the defensive component. Dominant defenses may be able to make up for a lack of a world beating pass attack. What is most interesting about this stat is that it is a team's ability to pass the ball and defend the pass that is most important (think recent Michigan secondary doom) predictor of success. Its not about running the ball or stopping the run, but rather passing the ball and stopping the pass. Its not overall offense or defense that is most important as a predictor, but just passing success and passing defense.
I wonder if there is someone here willing to take up the challenge of seeing if this correlates at the college level...