The 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game is considered among the greatest and most controversial games in college football history played between Michigan State and Notre Dame. The match 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 rated No. 1. Notre Dame elected to not try to find a score over the series. Notre Dame went on to win or share the national title in two 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 2 minor polls.
Notre Dame, which had last won a national championship in 1964 (non consensus), rated No. 1 both the AP and Coaches’ polls. Defending National Champion Michigan State, who’d finished the 1965 year No. 1 in the UPI Coaches’ survey, but was upset by UCLA at the Rose Bowl the past calendar year, entered the match 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 background and home-field edge on their side. This was the very first time in 20 years a school football matchup was given the”Game of the Century” label by the national media, and ABC had the nation’s viewers in its clasp, with equal parts Notre Dame fans and Michigan State fans. It was the tenth time at the 30-year history of this AP poll the No. 1 group played with the No. 2 team. The Spartans had defeated Notre Dame the prior year 12–3 holding Notre Dame to minus-12 yards rushing.
A fortuitous quirk in scheduling attracted these two teams together late in the season. When the 1966 programs were drawn up, they were not even supposed to fulfill. Michigan State had only nine matches scheduled (although they had been allowed to have eight ) while Notre Dame was originally scheduled to play with Iowa that week, as had been the custom since 1945. But in 1960, the Hawkeyes abruptly dropped the Irish from their schedule, from 1964 onward. Michigan State was available and agreed to come back to Notre Dame’s program in 1965–66.
The game was not shown live on TV. Each group has been allotted one national television appearance and two regional television appearances each season. Notre Dame had utilized their nationwide TV slot in the season opening game against Purdue. ABC executives did not want to show the game anywhere but the regional place, but pressure in 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 match in two states (reportedly North Dakota and South Dakota), therefore it could technically be called a regional broadcast. It would also be the first time a college football game was broadcast to Hawaii and also to U.S. troops in Vietnam.  The official attendance was declared at 80,011 (111% capacity) and was the most attended match in Michigan State football history at the time (the present record is 80,401 on Sept. 22, 1990 vs. Notre Dame).
Notre Dame was coached by Ara Parseghian and Michigan State was coached by Duffy Daugherty, both college legends.
Much of the first ABC telecast footage survives. The second half is present in its entirety, as do both scoring forces beginning in the second quarter (Michigan State’s field goal and Notre Dame’s touchdown).
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