Sunday, September 2, 2012

Because defense wins championships

imageHistory shows that when the irresistible force meets the immovable object, the immovable object always wins the day. So the show put on last night in Cowboys Stadium surprised only those who think offense is the ticket to championships and glory in January.

As the Big Blue wave crashed helplessly against the Crimson Gibraltar, Southeastern Conference football fans sat back and nodded. We all expected the game to pretty much go the way it did. Denard Robinson—who truly is a gifted athlete—had a few moments of brilliance spread across a night of frustration. He was harassed, hurried, sacked and intercepted. He was kept in the pocket—a place that Jordan Jefferson could have told him about.

It’s as true today as it was forty years ago in college football: Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.

Under Nick Saban, Alabama has had some truly stellar season openers. His 2008 team wrought destruction upon Clemson in the the Chick Fil A Kickoff en route to an undefeated regular season. His 2009 squad manhandled Virginia Tech to open its BCS Championship season.

But destroying Michigan makes a statement that far exceeds the resonance of beating the likes of Clemson and Virginia Tech.

The team that mauled LSU in the 2012 BCS Championship game mudholed one of college football’s most storied programs. Brady Hoke’s Wolverines are no slouch. Many pundits have tapped them as favorites to win the Big TenlevenTwelve conference and make a trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl.

But they won’t be playing in Miami for all of the oranges… because defense.

The rest of the college football world needs to take note. Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in the country because they field the two most ferocious defenses in the country. All the fancy spreads, zone reads, and whatever schemey-dreamy offenses are chasing fool’s gold.

Had it been Oregon, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or West Virginia last night instead of Michigan, the outcome would be almost identical. Quarterbacks would be running for their lives or trying to stop Dee Milliner from reaching the end zone on an interception return.

Alabama’s plain vanilla version of Neanderball was able to rack up 232 yards on the ground last night because the Michigan offense was completely helpless. In Friday’s Blogger Roundtable at al.com, I wrote:

“Michigan will only beat Alabama if it can control the football, use the clock and consistently move the ball down the field. If Robinson and the Wolverines think that they're going to beat Alabama using big play after big play, it's going to be a long night in Dallas.”

It was a long night.

Because… defense.

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