Iowa State’s defensive performance on the gridiron this fall put it in select company. Only a dozen schools (among the large-school conferences) held all or all but one of their foes below their season scoring average.The elite 12 included the Cyclones, Alabama, Notre Dame, Stanford, Florida, LSU, Oregon State, South Carolina, Florida State, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State. The only ISU opponent which surpassed its scoring norm was Kansas in a game that the Cyclones won by four touchdowns. What’s remarkable about Iowa State’s defensive performance in 2012 is that it came against the best offensive competition – the Big 12 – in the land. Consider this scenario: if Team “A” held an opponent to 20 points and Team “B” held its opposition to 30 points, which squad had the better defensive game? The easy answer is “A”. If “A’s” opponent averaged 14 ppg on offense and “B’s” opposition averaged 42 ppg, I would suggest that holding a foe 12 points below its norm is better. Nine of ISU’s 13 opponents this fall ranked in the Top 30 nationally for scoring offense. Among the dozen schools studied here, Florida was next closest with five opponents among the NCAA’s best 30 scoring teams. The average NCAA scoring rank for the opponent of the dozen schools listed here is as follows: Cyclones (36th), Gators (49th), Beavers (53rd), Cardinal (54th), Gamecocks (59th), Crimson Tide (60th), Badgers (62nd), Spartans (63rd), Tigers (64th), Nittany Lions and Seminoles (66th) and Fighting Irish (69th). Obviously, the Cyclones did something special on defense this fall. And, they did it against the best offenses in the NCAA.
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