1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game

The 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game is considered one of the greatest and most controversial games in college football history played between Michigan State and Notre Dame.[1] The game was played in Michigan State's Spartan Stadium on November 19, 1966. Michigan State entered the contest 9–0 and ranked No. 2, while Notre Dame entered 8–0 and ranked No. 1. Notre Dame elected not to try for a score on the final series; thus, the game ended in a 10–10 tie. Notre Dame went on to win or share the national title in fourteen polls (including the AP and UPI); Michigan State won or shared in three minor polls, and Alabama, who finished with the only undefeated and untied record, won two minor polls.[2][3]

Notre Dame vs. Michigan State, 1966
The "Game of the Century"
(1966 version)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Michigan State Spartans
(8–0) (9–0)
10 10
Head coach: 
Ara Parseghian
Head coach: 
Duffy Daugherty
1234 Total
Notre Dame 0703 10
Michigan State 01000 10
DateNovember 19, 1966
StadiumSpartan Stadium
LocationEast Lansing, Michigan
RefereeHoward Wirtz
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersChris Schenkel and Bud Wilkinson


Notre Dame, which had last won a national championship in 1964 (non consensus), ranked No. 1 both the AP and Coaches' polls. Defending National Champion Michigan State, who had finished the 1965 season No. 1 in the UPI Coaches' poll, but was upset by UCLA in the Rose Bowl the previous year, entered the game ranked No. 2 in the polls. The Fighting Irish, whose bid for a national championship two years earlier was snuffed out by USC, were hungry, while the Spartans had history and home-field advantage on their side. This was the first time in 20 years that a college football matchup was given the "Game of the Century" tag by the national media, and ABC had the nation's viewers in its grip, with equal parts Notre Dame fans and Michigan State fans. It was the tenth time in the 30-year history of the AP poll that the No. 1 team played the No. 2 team.[4] The Spartans had defeated Notre Dame the prior year 12–3 holding Notre Dame to minus-12 yards rushing.[5]

A fortuitous quirk in scheduling brought these two teams together late in the season. They were not even supposed to meet when the 1966 schedules were first drawn up. Michigan State had only nine games scheduled (even though they were allowed to have ten) while Notre Dame was originally scheduled to play Iowa that week, as had been the custom since 1945. However, in 1960, the Hawkeyes suddenly dropped the Irish from their schedule, from 1964 onward. Michigan State was available and agreed to return to Notre Dame's schedule in 1965–66. [6]

The game was not shown live on national TV. Each team was allotted one national television appearance and two regional television appearances each season. Notre Dame had used their national TV slot in the season opening game against Purdue. ABC executives did not even want to show the game anywhere but the regional area, but pressure from the West Coast and the South (to the tune of 50,000 letters) made ABC air the game on tape delay. ABC relented and blacked out the Michigan State-Notre Dame game in two states (reportedly North Dakota and South Dakota), so it could technically be called a regional broadcast.[5] It would also be the first time a college football game was broadcast to Hawaii and to U.S. troops in Vietnam.[5] The official attendance was announced at 80,011 (111% capacity) and was the most attended game in Michigan State football history at the time (the current record is 80,401 on Sept. 22, 1990 vs. Notre Dame).[7]

Notre Dame was coached by Ara Parseghian and Michigan State was coached by Duffy Daugherty, both school legends.

Much of the original ABC telecast footage survives. The second half exists in its entirety, as do both scoring drives starting in the second quarter (Michigan State's field goal and Notre Dame's touchdown).


Mike Kenney kicks field goal against Notre Dame (1966)
Dick Kenney kicks a field goal to give the Spartans a 10–0 lead.

Irish quarterback Terry Hanratty was knocked out after getting sacked in the first quarter by Spartan defensive lineman Bubba Smith.[5] Starting Notre Dame running back Nick Eddy was out entirely after hurting his shoulder by slipping on ice while getting off the train in East Lansing. Center George Goeddeke wrenched his ankle on a punt play. Michigan State jumped out to a 7–0 lead behind a five-yard touchdown run by Regis Cavender early in the second quarter. Later in the half, MSU added a field goal (by barefooted Hawaiian Dick Kenney). But the Irish came back, quickly scoring a touchdown on a 34-yard pass thrown by backup quarterback Coley O'Brien over the outstretched hand of MSU safety Jess Phillips to halfback Bob Gladieux. MSU took a 10–7 lead into the locker room at the half.

Notre Dame tied the game on the first play of the fourth quarter on Joe Azzaro's 28-yard field goal. Perhaps the best second-half scoring opportunity for MSU occurred during a pass thrown from Jimmy Raye to Gene Washington. The speedy wide receiver had outrun Raye's deep pass and Notre Dame's defensive backfield. Washington was forced to double back, and in so doing was caught by the defense. Tom Schoen's second interception of the game put Notre Dame in a position to take the lead, but Azzaro's 41-yard field goal attempt missed by inches to the right. Later in the game, Notre Dame had the ball on its own 30-yard line with 1:10 left. They needed about 40 yards for a game-winning field goal. But coach Ara Parseghian, not wanting to risk a turnover that could hand the game to the Spartans, chose to run the clock out, preserving the tie and Notre Dame's No. 1 ranking. After making a first down with ten seconds left, O'Brien dropped back to pass and was sacked by Bubba Smith. On the last play of the game, O'Brien gained five yards on a quarterback sneak. The game ended in a 10–10 tie.


For nearly 50 years, Parseghian has defended his end-of-the-game strategy, which left many fans feeling disappointed at the game not having some sort of resolution. Michigan State fans and other Notre Dame detractors calling him a coward and college football expert Dan Jenkins leading off his article for Sports Illustrated by saying Parseghian chose to "Tie one for the Gipper." In that same article, Parseghian was quoted as saying, "We'd fought hard to come back and tie it up. After all that, I didn't want to risk giving it to them cheap. They get reckless and it could cost them the game. I wasn't going to do a jackass thing like that at this point." "The game ended in a tie," Parseghian said. "We didn't play for a tie."[5] "Neither Duffy Daugherty nor I expected a tie or wanted a tie," Parseghian said. "The game ended in a tie in one of the historic games. Strategically, I knew what I was doing in the game. You have to remember Duffy kicked the ball back to me. My starting quarterback, starting center, starting left tackle and all my top guys were over on the bench with me. We hadn't completed a pass in the last seven or eight attempts."[5] “We were all shocked going into the tunnel together, and nobody was celebrating or talking and that’s when Duffy stated.[8] The most famous president of each school, Notre Dame’s Father Theodore Hesburgh and MSU’s John Hannah, together went into each locker room to console and congratulate the players. The two visionary leaders served for several years on the Civil Rights Commission beginning in the late 1950s and sat together during the MSU-Notre Dame battles.[8]

The tie resulted in 9–0–1 seasons for both Michigan State and Notre Dame. The final AP and Coaches' polls put the Irish and Spartans at No. 1 and No. 2, ranking both teams above the undefeated, and two time defending national champion 11–0–0 Alabama. Both schools shared the MacArthur Bowl.


Notre Dame beat USC 51–0 the next week, completing an undefeated (but tied) regular season and solidifying its No. 1 claim. The Irish did not accept bowl bids between 1926 and 1969 (see below), and Michigan State was the victim of two Big Ten rules that would be rescinded a few years later: The same school could not represent the league in the Rose Bowl in back-to-back seasons, and no Big Ten school could play in a bowl game other than the Rose Bowl. So despite being Big Ten Champions and undefeated in the regular season, the Spartans could not play in the Rose Bowl, or indeed any bowl game.

Players for both schools earned tremendous accolades for the season including All American honors. In the 1967 NFL draft, Michigan State had four players drafted within the first eight picks of the first round[9]

After (but not necessarily as a result of) Eddy's injury while debarking from the train in East Lansing, Notre Dame football never traveled to away games by train again.[10] Both teams now make the 160-mile trip by bus.

40th anniversary

On September 23, 2006, Michigan State and Notre Dame commemorated the 40th anniversary of the game. Michigan State wore "throwback" jerseys and helmets from the 1960s era. Notre Dame declined to wear throwback jerseys or helmets. 45 members from the original '66 squad returned. In addition, 1965 and 1966 All American Bubba Smith had his No. 95 jersey retired at halftime,[11] becoming only the third person in Michigan State history with such honor. Notre Dame won the game 40–37, after coming back from a 16-point deficit and scoring 19 straight points to win.

50th anniversary

On September 16, 2016, Notre Dame commemorated the 50th anniversary of the game. Members of the 1966 Notre Dame team appeared on the field prior to the game.


  1. ^ Mike Celzic. The Biggest Game of Them All: Notre Dame, Michigan State and the Fall of 1966. ISBN 0-671-75817-9.
  2. ^ Notre Dame's Championship Record Archived 2009-01-27 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Michigan State's Championship Record Archived 2008-12-10 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "College Football: No. 1 vs. No. 2". Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Remember that time Notre Dame beat Michigan State, 10-10?". Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  6. ^ Mike Celzic. The Biggest Game of Them All: Notre Dame, Michigan State and the Fall of 1966. ISBN 0-671-75817-9.
  7. ^ 2011 Michigan State University Football Media Guide.
  8. ^ a b "On 50th anniversary, remembering MSU-Notre Dame 'Game of the Century'". Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  9. ^ "1967 NFL draft". Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2006-09-23.
  10. ^ Forever Frozen in Time. College football gameday. South Bend Tribune, September 23, 2006
  11. ^ "Bubba plans to see his MSU jersey retired". Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2018-08-28.

External links

1966 College Football All-America Team

The 1966 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1966.

The NCAA recognizes six selectors as "official" for the 1966 season. They are (1) the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), (2) the Associated Press (AP), (3) the Central Press Association (CP), (4) the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), (5) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), and (6) the United Press International (UPI). Four of the six teams (AP, UPI, NEA, and FWAA) were selected by polling of sports writers and/or broadcasters. The Central Press team was selected with input from the captains of the major college teams. The AFCA team was based on a poll of coaches. Other notable selectors, though not recognized by the NCAA as official, included Time magazine, The Sporting News (TSN), and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WCFF).The undefeated Notre Dame and Michigan State teams finished the season ranked #1 and #2, played to a 10-10 tie in the 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game, and dominated the 1966 All-America selections. Notre Dame had six players who received first-team honors: guard Tom Regner (AFCA, AP, CP, NEA, UPI, Time, TSN, WCFF); back Nick Eddy (AFCA, AP, CP, FWAA, NEA, UPI, WCFF); defensive end Alan Page (CP, FWAA, NEA, Time, TSN, WCFF); linebacker Jim Lynch (AFCA, AP, CP, FWAA, NEA, UPI, Time, TSN, WCFF); and defensive tackles Pete Duranko (AFCA, UPI) and Kevin Hardy (Time, TSN). Michigan State had five: defensive end Bubba Smith (AFCA, AP, CP, FWAA, NEA, UPI, Time, TSN, WCFF); offensive end Gene Washington (AFCA, UPI, Time, TSN); running back Clint Jones (AP, CP, NEA, Time, TSN, WCFF); defensive back/linebacker George Webster (AFCA, AP, CP, FWAA, NEA, UPI, Time, TSN, WCFF); and tackle Jerry West (NEA).

1966 in Michigan

Events from the year 1966 in Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press (DFP) and the Associated Press (AP) each selected lists of the top stories of 1966 in Michigan. The AP provided separate lists of the top stories selected in statewide polling of editors and broadcasters (APE) and another selected by the AP staff (APS). Those stories included:

George W. Romney's landslide re-election as Governor of Michigan on November 8 and his rise in prominence as a possible Republican Presidential candidate in 1968 (APE-1, APS-1, DFP-1);

The November 8 United States Senate election in which incumbent Republican Robert P. Griffin (appointed by Gov. Romney to complete the term of Patrick V. McNamara who died in April) defeated former Gov. G. Mennen Williams (APE-2, APS-4, DFP-1 [as part of the "Romney sweep"]);

The controversy over automobile safety triggered by the publication of Ralph Nader's "Unsafe at Any Speed" and culminating in the Highway Safety Act of 1966 mandating certain safety standards, and revelation that an investigator hired by General Motors was digging into Nader's past (APE-3, APS-2, DFP-5);

The fatal shooting on February 12 of Rabbi Morris Adler and his assailant's suicide in front of 900 worshipers at a Sabbath service at Shaarey Zedek synagogue in Southfield (APE-4, APS-9, DFP-3);

Racial tensions, including incidents in Lansing starting on August 8, a fire bombing in East Detroit, incidents in Ypsilanti and Muskegon, and culminating with the Benton Harbor riots following a fatal shooting on August 30 (APE-6, APS-3, DFP-7 [east side of Detroit]);

The November 29 sinking in Lake Huron of the ore carrier SS Daniel J. Morrell with the death of 28 of 29 crew members (APE [occurred after ballots cast], APS-7, DFP-6);

Teacher strikes in the spring and fall (APE-7, APS-5, DFP-8);

UFO sightings by hundreds of persons in Washtenaw County in the spring which were later identified as "swamp gas" by an Air Force investigator (APE-5, APS-6, DFP-10);

A grand jury probe into "black book" charges at the Detroit Police Department (APE-9, DFP-2);

The August 2 primary contest in which former Gov. G. Mennen Williams soundly defeated Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh for the Democratic Party's U.S. Senate nomination (APE-8);

The automobile industry's increase in prices on 1967 models to reflect new safety upgrades mandated by the government, and the subsequent roll-back of those increases following public criticism (APE-10, APS-10);

A tuberculosis outbreak infecting 14 children and caused by an infected teacher at a nursery school in Garden City (DFP-4);

A report by researchers at Wayne State University that they had developed a cancer vaccine (APS-8); and

An April boycott by African-American students at Detroit's Northern High School (DFP-10).The AP and United Press International (UPI) also selected the state's top 1966 sports stories as follows:

The 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country and ending in a 10–10 tie (AP-1, UPI-1);

Michigan State's loss to UCLA in the 1966 Rose Bowl (AP-2);

The 1966 Michigan State Spartans football team's undefeated season (UPI-3);

The deaths of Detroit Tigers' manager Charlie Dressen on August 10 and of interim manager Bob Swift on October 17; (AP-3, AP-8, UPI-2)

The 1965–66 Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team winning its third consecutive Big Ten Conference championship led by Cazzie Russell (AP-5, UPI-4);

The Detroit Lions' personnel problems, including Joe Don Looney's refusal to play, dissension among players, and criticism of head coach Harry Gilmer (AP-4, UPI-5);

The Detroit Lions' mid-season resurgence led by the passing of rookie quarterback Karl Sweetan, the receiving of Pat Studstill, and the kicking of Garo Yepremian (AP-6, UPI-6 [Sweetan only]);

The death of Chuck Thompson in a crash during the APBA Gold Cup race on the Detroit River (AP-7);

The appointment of Mayo Smith as manager of the Detroit Tigers (AP-10, UPI-8);

Earl Wilson's strong 18-11 season as a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers (UPI-7);

Cazzie Russell of Michigan named the UPI Player of the Year (UPI-9); and

Denny McLain winning 20 games for the Detroit Tigers (UPI-10).

AP Poll

The Associated Press (AP Poll) provides weekly rankings of the top 25 NCAA teams in one of three Division I college sports: football, men's basketball and women's basketball. The rankings are compiled by polling 65 sportswriters and broadcasters from across the nation. Each voter provides his own ranking of the top 25 teams, and the individual rankings are then combined to produce the national ranking by giving a team 25 points for a first place vote, 24 for a second place vote, and so on down to 1 point for a twenty-fifth place vote. Ballots of the voting members in the AP Poll are made public.

Michigan State–Notre Dame football rivalry

The Michigan State–Notre Dame football rivalry is an American college football rivalry between the Michigan State Spartans and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The first game between the teams took place in 1897. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 49–29–1.

Beginning in 1949, the teams competed for the Megaphone Trophy, a trophy introduced by the Alumni Clubs of Notre Dame and Michigan State to be presented to the winner of the game. Notre Dame leads the Megaphone Trophy series 35–27–1.The Notre Dame side of the trophy is blue, while the Michigan State side is green, and the year of the game and teams' respective scores running down the middle. The current trophy is the third trophy as the prior two trophies no longer have space for the respective games to be included.The rivalry includes several notable games, such as the 1966 game, arguably one of the greatest college football games ever played. Notre Dame currently leads the series. Games played prior to 1949 also appear on the trophy to commemorate the entire series. Notre Dame is the current holder of the trophy, with a 38–18 victory on September 23, 2017. They will hold the Megaphone Trophy until 2026 when the two teams are scheduled to play again.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish football rivalries

Notre Dame Fighting Irish football rivalries refers to rivalries of the University of Notre Dame in the sport of college football. Because the Fighting Irish are independent of a football conference, they play a national schedule, which annually includes historic rivals University of Southern California and Navy, more recent rival Stanford, and five games with ACC teams.

Related articles
Current commentators
Past commentators
Lore televised by ABC
Conferences televised
Games televised annually
Bowls & rivalries
Culture & lore
Bowls & rivalries
Culture & lore

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.