Championships of the Past: 1966 Michigan State Spartans, part 2 of 4

Spartans QB Jimmy Raye looks over the Irish defense.

In the second installment of Championships of the Past, we look at the 1966 Michigan State Spartans. They went 9-0-1 ending the season with the famous 10-10 tie with Notre Dame calling it “The Game of the Century.”

Playing on November 19, 1966 both teams came into the game undefeated. Michigan State was 9-0 and ranked #2. Notre Dame was 8-0 and ranked #1. It was a hard fought game but it wasn’t without controversy. The Spartans were ahead 10-7 and the Irish fought back to make it 10-10. Notre Dame then elected to get very conservative in it’s play calling essentially “playing for the tie.” There wasn’t overtime back then so both teams technically remained undefeated as the final score was 10-10. The gamble paid off for the Irish as they stayed #1 followed by Michigan State at #2. The AP poll crowned the Irish as the 1966 National Champions but the Football Research Poll and Helms Foundation gave the Spartans co-championship status. Michigan State counts it as a National Championship so, we will too.

Either way this Spartan team was loaded and had four of the top eight picks in the 1967 NFL Draft as follows: #1 pick Bubba Smith (defensive end), #2 pick Clinton Jones (running back), #5 pick George Webster (linebacker), and #8 pick Gene Washington (wide receiver). All great players from the best Michigan State squad in history.

1966 is the last time the Spartans won the National Championship. Will the 2015 team do the same? Their next test comes on December 31 against Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. If they can get past the Tide, they’ll have a good shot to do what the 1966 team couldn’t do – win it outright.

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