From 1947 through 2001, the Rose Bowl football game matched up the Big Ten champion (often Ohio State) versus the Pac Eight/Ten champ (usually USC). Typically, the Big Ten representative would come to Pasadena with the higher ranking at the end of the regular season (frequently #1) due to its fearsome ground game. The Big Ten won 12 of the 13 Rose Bowls from 1947 through 1959. The 1960s were evenly split, then the West Coast teams won 9 out of 10 in the 1970s and 8 out of 10 ten in the 1980s. The big difference was that, on the whole, the West Coast team could pass, the offense of the future, as well as run.
The Cold War was kind of like that. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviets, with their 5.3 million person military and 53,000 tanks (both figures as of 1985 according to Gen. Odom's history of the collapse of the Red Army), resembled Woody Hayes' Ohio State: with a seemingly crushing ground game, but one-dimensional, geared to win the Last War. The Americans, with their air and sea power to complement their ground game were like U.S.C. In retrospect, it's not surprising who won, but it wasn't so obvious at the time.