1966 College Football Recap
It may have been the most ballyhooed regular season college football game ever. Notre Dame and Michigan State, in lock step at No.1 and No.2 for five weeks, met in East Lansing on Nov.19, 1966 to settle the national championship.
That both sides were hungry was not questioned. Two years earlier, Notre Dame had the title snatched from them in the last 1:33 of their final game. Last year, Michigan State had a chance to be the undisputed national champ, but was upset in the Rose Bowl. Many of the starters from both those teams were both seniors.
Notre Dame was 8–0 and beating the opposition by an average score of 38–4. Michigan State was 9–0 and winning games at a 31–10 clip. Going in, it was the “Game of the Decade.” Coming out, it was the day Notre Dame, according to Dan Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, “tied one for the Gipper.”
Trailing 10–0 in a very hard-hitting and error-filled game, Notre Dame rallied to pull even early in the fourth quarter. Later, with the ball on his own 30 and a minute and a half left, Ara Parseghian elected to run the clock out and settle for the tie.
Everyone seemed to disagree with Parseghian except the people who counted most: the AP writers and the UPI coaches. They voted to keep Notre Dame on top. The Irish clinched the title, crushing Southern Cal, 51–0, a week later in L.A.
Meanwhile, Alabama, the two-time defending national champ, was undefeated and untied and came in third.