Iowa Proves that Defense Still Wins Championships

Kevin TrahanAnalyst IJanuary 7, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05:  The Iowa Hawkeyes celebrate after their 24-14 win against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Land Shark Stadium on January 5, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As Josh Nesbitt's final pass fell to the turf in the Orange Bowl last Tuesday, Iowa fans and players alike celebrated a 24-14 victory over Georgia Tech.

But the score doesn't do this game justice.

The Hawkeyes thoroughly dominated the Orange Bowl from start to finish and once again rode their defense's back to victory.

Georgia Tech's triple option rushing attack came into the game second in the nation with 307.15 yards per game. It left with a dismal 143 yards on the ground.

Star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas didn't catch a pass and the Iowa secondary allowed 12 yards passing, the lowest total given up in Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz's career.

The Yellow Jackets scored a season low 14 points and only one offensive touchdown.

In other words, the 2010 Orange Bowl was an Iowa defensive showcase.

The offense was good and did enough to win, but quarterback Ricky Stanzi summed it up best.

"Our defense was tremendous. They made our job a lot easier."

That they certainly did. And once again, a great offense proved superior to a great defense, something Iowa proved time and time again this season.

Since the start of the last decade, the phrase "Defense wins championships" has lost a lot of its luster.

New offenses have started to take hold, overshadowing old, boring defenses that don't provide as much "excitement."

But none of these offenses, the wildcat, the spread, or even the resurrected triple option have been affective against a good defense.

The wildcat looks cool, but no teams have been championship caliber with it. The spread worked well for a little while, but as teams figured out how to defend it, it dropped off. The triple option has done better than the others, but Tuesday night proved its teams aren't elite.

But these offenses, along with air it out offenses, have been perceived as better because they are more exciting to watch.

Even a supporter of smashmouth football like myself will admit that shootouts are exciting. But exciting doesn't mean good.

And unfortunately, most of the country has turned these two words into synonyms.

The perception of amazing athletes running the wildcat and the spread has suddenly given a team with a good defense a negative image.

As any Big Ten follower knows, most see these teams as slow and not athletic enough to keep up with "high-powered" offenses.

But this season, the Big Ten destroyed that theory.

Wisconsin's "slow" defense beat the amazing athletes at Miami. Ohio State's defense slowed down a steaming hot Oregon offense. And Iowa was the icing on the cake, stopping one of the nation's best offenses dead in its tracks.

While smashmouth football may not be overly exciting to the most of the nation, it sure has proven to be a winner.

Hopefully college football fans never cross the fine line between exciting and good again. Because if they do, teams like Iowa will prove time and time again, that defense, not offense, wins championships.