The Big Ten is starting to take center stage here this week on the MTB College Sports Bucket List and that continues to be the case today as we take a look at one of the oldest rivalries in the United States, but it only involves one team from the Big Ten - Michigan State and a school that is a constant state of 'like' with the Big Ten - Notre Dame.
Before we move on, don't forget to take a look at some of the history between Iowa and Wisconsin, who now play for the Heartland Trophy.
No. 56: Michigan State vs. Notre Dame (FBS Football):
This is a rivalry that dates back to 1897 and features one of the single greatest college football games of all-time. Just how good? It's known to this day as "The Game of the Century". It also features a trophy that has nothing to do with on the field play or anything relatable to the institutions of higher learning, but it's about cheerleading - The Megaphone Trophy.
Notre Dame holds a lead in the series overall at 46-28-1 and also since the introduction of the Megaphone Trophy at 32-26-1 in the 76 game series between these two rivals.
For most you can't talk about this as a rivalry without pointing directly to "The Game of the Century" and that alone is a reason to include this nearly annual game on the list.
What was "The Game of the Century?" Well, it was the 1966 meeting between the Spartans and Fighting Irish that ended in a 10-10 tie. Yep, the best known game in this rivalry is alos the only tie to ever occur in the series. It was a matchup of #1 vs. #2 as both Notre Dame and Michigan State were ranked either depending on the poll you believed at the time of this matchup.
What made this game so famous was ND coach Ara Parseghian decided with 1:10 left in the 4th quarter and only needing 40 yards for a field goal opportunity that he'd sit on the ball and let the clock run out, thus allowing their #1 ranking to stay in tact. They would go on to pound USC 51-0 the next week and ensured his Irish a National Championship.
Of course if you don't dig that deep into the history of the game, first off shame on you, then we present to you the 2010 game that was won 34-31 by Michigan State. It was a game of hot potato with the lead all game long and it seemed to be going exactly that way into overtime as ND kicked a field goal allowing the game to be tied at 31-31. After holding MSU to what seemed like another FG attempt, the Spartans got all sorts of crazy tricky and gutsy by faking the FG and completing a pass for the victory, stunning the Irish in East Lansing and perhaps exacting a small measure of revenge for 1966.
Despite the advantage to the Irish the series has had a lot of swings in it, with Notre Dame winning eight straight from 1987 to 1994 and Michigan State pulling out five straight from 1997 to 2001. It's a rivalry that may not have the heat and hatred or shenanigans of some, but both teams have played hugely important and historical games and that alone gives it a stature that should be respected.
It's also a rivalry that may mean more or have more intense feelings depending on which side of this one you fall under. Most MSU fans rank the Irish as their second most hated rival (behind Michigan of course), but Notre Dame has so many historical rivals that it could be 3rd or 4th or even 5th on the list depending on which group of fans you are talking to. Either way both sets of fans do regard this game as massively important to them on a yearly basis.
Here's hoping that the future of this series gives us as many entertaining games as we've had in the past 76 meetings.