Notre Dame OK being defensive

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

There were plenty of smart college football analysts last week that couldn't see how Notre Dame could hang with powerful Oklahoma. But there was a simple answer to how the Fighting Irish could compete -- line play.

Notre Dame's 30-13 victory was another reminder that at the highest level, college football is not about fancy spread offenses that run up outrageous totals of yardage and points. It's about running the ball and stopping the run.

Exciting, no. But effective, yes.

While Notre Dame rushed 39 times for 215 yards, Oklahoma carried 24 times for 15 yards. Sooners quarterback Landry Jones managed 365 yards, but it took him 51 passes to get there.

The big offensive numbers put up by teams in the Big 12 look great. We ate it up when West Virginia's Geno Smith lit up Baylor for 656 yards, eight touchdowns and 70 points, rocketing to Heisman front-runner status. But that was before the Mountaineers were outscored 104-28 in consecutive weeks.

There's a reason the SEC has produced the last six national championships. It's the conference that still values defense and a balanced offense most. Ten of the last 12 national champions have had a higher ranked defense than offense. Over that time, three top-ranked offenses have played in the BCS title game, with none winning.

Just something to keep in mind when the next offensive juggernaut faces a boring, defensive-oriented team that doesn't seem to have the same firepower.

- Kevin Dunleavy

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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