Terry Hanratty to Jim Seymour. It would be a winning combination in 1966 as the pair sparked a Notre Dame attack that led the Irish to their eighth national title. The sophomore combo debuted to perfection in Notre Dame’s 26-14 home win against rival Purdue. The two combined for 276 yards on 13 completions that set the tone for the remainder of the year. The 1966 offense was also anchored by a strong running game with the likes of Nick Eddy, Larry Conjar and Rocky Bleier and the Notre Dame defense, led by Alan Page and Kevin Hardy sparkled throughout the season, which included a 51-0 thrashing of USC in Los Angeles in the final game of the year that solidified Notre Dame’s hold to the No. 1 ranking.
Impressive mid-season wins over North Carolina (32-0), 10th-ranked Oklahoma (38-0) and a route of Pittsburgh (40-0) set the stage for what has been described by many as the “game of the century” as No. 1-rated Notre Dame clashed with No. 2-ranked Michigan State in East Lansing on Nov. 19. The Irish came into the game, having lost nine of their last 10 to Michigan State and hadn’t won in East Lansing since 1949.
With Coley O’Brien filling in for Hanratty, who left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder separation, the Irish battled to within three at the half, trailing 10-7. So dominant was the Irish defense in the second half, the Spartans were unable to net a single yard rushing in the second half. An early fourth-quarter field goal by the Irish tied the score 10-10. Despite an interception that gave Notre Dame the ball at the Spartan 18 late in the game, the Irish were unable to score, when a field-goal attempt went wide right. Notre Dame got the ball back with just a little over a minute to go in the game, but were unable to get the ball out of their own territory and the game ended in a 10-10 tie. The thrashing of USC the following week, the team’s sixth shutout in 10 games, ensured the Irish of the national title.