"THE BIGGEST GAME OF THEM ALL: Notre Dame, Michigan State, and the Fall of '66" by Mike Celizic
Kirkus Star

"THE BIGGEST GAME OF THEM ALL: Notre Dame, Michigan State, and the Fall of '66"

Email this review


A smashing retelling of the fabled Notre Dame-Michigan State game that ended in a 10-10 tie and decided the 1966 national championship. Bergen (N.J.) Record sportswriter Celizic (coauthor, On the Run, 1991) was a freshman at Notre Dame in 1966 and here makes no effort to hide his partiality. No matter; Celizik gives Michigan's Duffy Daugherty and his vaunted Spartan defense their due alongside Ara Parseghian's legendary Fighting Irish. Celizik provides deep background, giving detailed histories of each school's football program and setting the stage, game by game, for the rare late-season meeting between undefeated first- and second-ranked teams. The slightly favored Irish limped into East Lansing for the showdown with top player Jim Seymour nursing a bad ankle and star running-back Nick Eddy out with a shoulder injury. It would get worse: Before the first period was over, both All-American center George Goeddeka and the esteemed Terry Hanrattay would be lost. Michigan scored first on a plunge up the middle. They added a field goal to make the score 10-0, but backup quarterback Coley O'Brien brought the Irish back with a long touchdown pass. The score remained 10-7, with the teams trading stalled drives, punts, and turnovers, until Joe Azzaro's field goal early in the fourth quarter. His subsequent miss with 4:39 left in the game set the stage for a controversy that beleaguers coach Parseghian to this day. With the national title at stake, Parseghian, with 1:24 remaining, chose ""not to lose"" by not gambling with an inexperienced quarterback and a banged-up offense. He played it safe and ran the ball, thus preserving the tie and Notre Dame's top ranking. Though vilified by the press (the LA. Times headline: ""TIE ONE FOR THE GIPPER"") for that decision, Parseghian will find vindication here. An exciting, intelligent, well-written football book that brings a classic game to pulse-quickening life with the immediacy of today's sports pages.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster