Michigan State and Notre Dame Taking a Break
For the first time in over sixty years, Michigan State will go more than two consecutive seasons without playing Notre Dame in football. The rivalry took a year off in 1953, then the teams faced off 57 times, taking a break only during the 1995 and 1996 seasons. In what is usually an every year occurrence, the Battle for the Megaphone will be fewer and farther between than ever in upcoming years.
MSU is next scheduled to play at Notre Dame in 2016 and will face the Fighting Irish at home in 2017. After those two games, the next Battle for the Megaphone will then likely be played at a neutral site in 2023 and possibly in Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill., according to MSU athletic director Mark Hollis. After 2016 and 2017, the next home-and-home for MSU and Notre Dame will not take place until the 2026 and 2027 seasons.
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The Irish essentially owned the Spartans during the first four decades of the rivalry. When the teams first faced each other on the gridiron in 1897, the Irish rolled to a 34-6 victory in South Bend, Ind. Those six points would be all the Spartans earned against Notre Dame for the next decade. The teams played each other seven times between 1898 and 1909, and the Irish shut out MSU in each of those games, 53-0, 40-0, 33-0, 12-0, 28-0, 5-0 and 17-0.
Michigan State finally beat Notre Dame once they got the chance to play them in East Lansing in 1910, where they won 17-0. Unfortunately for MSU, they were shut out again the next two years. It was not until the 1950’s and 1960’s where the Spartans got to show their dominance over Notre Dame, going 13-3-1 against the Irish from 1950-1968. The 1970’s and 1980’s were all Notre Dame, however, as the Irish won 23 out of 26 games from 1969-1994.
When the rivalry reignited in the late 1990’s, the Spartans took over once again. MSU won five straight from 1997-2001. From 2002-2013, Michigan State went 5-7 against Notre Dame, with the majority of those games being nail biters. Looking at the big picture, Notre Dame is far ahead in the rivalry, winning 48, losing 28 and tying once to MSU.
Notre Dame appears to have had the last laugh as they have defeated the Spartans in the past three seasons.
Last fall, the Spartan offense was unable to convert a potential game-winning drive in what ended up being MSU’s only loss in their Big Ten and Rose Bowl Championship season.
When you look at wins and losses, there is not even a comparison in who has the bragging rights in the Michigan State and Notre Dame rivalry. That has not stopped either team from showing up hungry for a win year after year. Several Michigan State vs. Notre Dame games have been some of the greatest and most exciting in the history of college football.
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- November 19, 1966: ND 10, MSU 10
The 8-0 Notre Dame Fighting Irish came to East Lansing to take on the 9-0 Michigan State Spartans. It was a battle between the top two teams in the nation that ended in a tie. Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian elected not to go for the win in their final drive, after tying the game up late in the 4th quarter with a field goal.
- September 21, 2002: ND 21, MSU 17
The Fighting Irish broke MSU’s five-game winning streak against Notre Dame with a thrilling victory in Spartan Stadium. Michigan State, lead by quarterback Jeff Smoker, capped off a spectacular comeback with when Charles Rogers made a circus catch in the back of the endzone to take the lead 17-14 late in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame answered with a 60-yard touchdown catch and run by Arnaz Battle with just over a minute to play.
- September 17, 2005: MSU 44, ND 41
From 1997-2007, Michigan State won six out of six games in South Bend. One of the most thrilling was the 44-41 victory in overtime in 2005. After letting up on a fourteen point lead in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame took the lead with a field goal in overtime. MSU responded quickly with a touchdown of their own to win the game and then controversially planted a Spartan flag in the field of Notre Dame stadium in celebration.
- September 18, 2010: ND 31, MSU 34
The last time Michigan State was able to beat Notre Dame was in 2010, and it was also in overtime. “Little Giants” was the name of the play that Mark Dantonio called to win the game. When the whole world thought the Spartans would attempt a field goal in hopes to send the game into another overtime, they faked the field goal try and punter Aaron Bates completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Gantt for the 34-31 victory.
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Out with the Old, in with the New
With the absence of Notre Dame on the schedule for MSU in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the Spartans will be in what hopes to be a very exciting home-and-home series with Oregon. This year’s game in Eugene, Ore. will take place on September 6. Michigan State and Oregon are both ranked in the top 10 in preseason polls and this matchup may prove to have NCAA Playoff and National Championship implications. Oregon will play Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in 2015.
After the 2016-2017 home-and-home with Notre Dame, Michigan State has contractually agreed to a home-and-home series with Arizona State for 2018 and 2019. In 2018, MSU will play at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. in a Big Ten-Pac-12 battle with a MSU vs. ASU matchup in East Lansing in 2019.
Michigan State and Notre Dame fans do not have to wait until 2016 to reclaim bragging rights. Earlier this month, it was announced that the Spartans will take on the Irish on the hardwood. The game is scheduled for December 1 in South Bend and will be the first time the schools have faced off in basketball since 1979.
Bradley Allen is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports