Rugby league legend Shaun Edwards has been hailed as the key to Cambridge retaining the MMC Varsity trophy.
Cambridge celebrate the "win"
The annual Twickenham match against Oxford ended 11-11, the first tie between the sides since 1965.
But with the Light Blues on the back foot for much of the second half it was Wasps coach Edwards' weekend work with the defence that proved crucial.
"Shaun is so dynamic, and he certainly made a difference," said Cambridge coach Tony Rodgers.
Cambridge retained the trophy on the strength of their 15-13 victory 12 months ago at Twickenham.
Oxford came in to this term's head-to-head as strong favourites, and after a slow start dominated the second-half.
But Cambridge's defence held firm under intense pressure, before Charlie Desmond's late try levelled the scores.
Edwards, the former Wigan and Great Britain league star, is in charge of defence with Zurich Premiership champions Wasps, and his influence on Cambridge was clear.
And Rogers was pleased to see his team take the honours after earlier seeing a Dafydd Lewis drop goal ruled out by referee Chris White.
"It looked as though the drop-goal was over, but the referee was in sole command," added Rodgers.
"He was looking to his touch judges, but they didn't react. Our fly-half thought it was over."
Cambridge captain Stewart Eru admitted his team had been forced to dig deep.
"We were under immense pressure in the second half, and our kicking wasn't great, but all credit to Oxford," Eru said.
"We are disappointed not to win, but we are going back with the trophy, which is what it is about."
Oxford boss Steve Hill criticised his opponents for not bringing anything to the game.
"We were prepared to play with a bit of width and a bit of risk," Hill said.
"One team came to play today and throw the ball about, and I am not sure what the other came to do, but they defended a lot.
"I would never be implicitly critical of my opponents, but if you look at the game and who played with the ball in hand instead of kicking the ball up and chasing it, then there was a difference."
Oxford skipper John Allen echoed his coach's sentiments.
"The first emotion is one of disappointment. We had the momentum going for us, but Cambridge fought back well and you can't be too unhappy with a draw," Allen said.
"I believe that we played well and our strategy was sound, but you have to give credit to the Cambridge defence, and when their moment came, they seized on it."