Michigan State/Notre Dame History
Spartan fans under the age of 50 probably don’t remember the 1966 game between #1 Notre Dame and #2 Michigan State, and might not know why it’s a big deal around East Lansing as the Fighting Irish come to town on Saturday.
The “Game of the Century” opened with the Spartans rolling out to a 10-0 lead, before Notre Dame rallied to tie it. Late in the contest, Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian had the ball at his own 30-yard line but elected to run the clock out and force a tie, since the Irish still had one more game (against Southern California) on their schedule. Parseghian and Notre Dame won that matchup 51-0, claiming a national championship in the process.
The matchup between #1 and #2, the tie, and the controversy behind Parseghian’s strategy all contributed to make that game the classic of classics. I sat there after the game along with many, many fans ND as well as MSU and we all felt like someone died.
The game between No. 1-ranked Notre Dame and No. 2 MSU on Nov. 19, 1966 may not have been the greatest game ever played, and yet its claim to the title, the “Game of the Century,” has gone largely unchallenged.
This game opened up the modern era of NCAA football. It was prophetic, in a sense, because it showed what was eventually going to come about, and the fighting spirit of that game helped accelerate it.
In 1966 Notre Dame, a Catholic institution had only one black player, and Michigan State was just the opposite, the state school with so many black athletes. At the same time, the schools in the South were still segregated.
Notre Dame emerged from its season-ending domination of Southern California as the national champion so-named by the two major polls, but MSU still lays claim to a national title based on the decision of four other recognized selectors.
Consider the emotion of this game. In MSU's eyes if we beat noone, we beat ND. A lot like the Browns If we beat noone we beat the Steelers!~ LOL MSU leads the series but typically ND beats us on our turf and we beat them on their turf. Again I said "typically" who knows what will happen Saturday night?