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Throwback Thursday - Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Pitt Panthers, 1966

Pittsburgh stumped the Irish for a half — but no longer.

Notre Dame QB Terry Hanratty...
College Football: Notre Dame QB Terry Hanratty (5) in action, (Photo by James Drake/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
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Today is my birthday, and I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, so it’s the perfect day for a Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Pitt Panthers Throwback Thursday!

Notre Dame and Pitt have played each other a total of 71 times, with Notre Dame winning 49, Pittsburgh winning 21, and one tie game. Notre Dame has 11 national championships to Pitt’s nine. Notre Dame has had seven Heiman Trophy winners to Pitt’s one. Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory was 58-0 in 1944, and Pitt’s largest margin of victory was 26-0 in 1936. Notre Dame’s longest win streak is 11, from 1964-1974; and Pitt’s longest win streak is three, from 1932-1934.

Today I’m going to look back at the 1966 meeting between the two teams. The following game recap is from the 1966 Notre Dame Football Review in The Scholastic.

With Michigan State Close Behind

Pittsburgh stumped the Irish for a half — but no longer. The “Chicago Sun-Times” gives the account.


NICK EDDY AND TOMMY SCHOEN weren’t exactly running for office in the third quarter of this surprising football game, but when the ballots are counted in the national polls on Monday, their returns will carry a lot of weight.

Eddy is a very offensive halfback and Schoen is a defensive safety, and they were a potent pair in paralyzing a persistent Pittsburgh team for a 40-0 Notre Dame victory here this somber Saturday afternoon before a sellout crowd of 59,075.

Notre Dame’s re-election as No. 1 in the nation may well depend on their returns, because Michigan State, in routing Iowa 56-7, remains a formidable candidate.

Somehow the palsied Panthers, entering the game with a 1-6 record, outscored 67 points to 200, managed to stymie the might of Ara Parseghian’s powerful platoon for nearly half of a contest which was supposed to be resolved in favor of the Irish with the opening kickoff.

Yet, with indomitable will, born perhaps by being pitted against the nation’s best with one of the nation’s worst records, Pittsburgh held off a Notre Dame score until Quarterback Terry Hanratty ended an 80-yard march by going three yards on a touchdown keeper after 10 minutes of the second quarter.

Joe Azzaro place-kicked the extra point and the Irish were on the boards 7-0 at the half. In East Lansing, Mich., the nation’s No. 2 team, Michigan State, was leading Iowa 35-7 at the same juncture and breathing heavily on Notre Dame’s right to remain in office.

Then the “returns” came in from the Eddy and Schoen precincts. Nick took the second-half kickoff on his own 15 and raced 85 yards for a 13-0 Notre Dame bulge

Azzaro’s kick was wide, but with three minutes remaining in the third period, Schoen gathered in Al Zortea’s punt on his own 37 and threaded his way 63 yards to another touchdown.

Now, faced with the mighty display of the Spartans to the north, Notre Dame Coach Ara Parseghian went for every available point, two at the moment. It worked, on a pass from Hanratty to Paul May, and the Irish went into the stretch leading 21-0.

The dismal start of Notre Dame against a team so poorly rated that the oddsmakers refused to even recognize the contest was bound to pale before the Spartans’ 35-7 hounding of the Hawkeyes over the same distance.

This was the first game in six that Ara didn’t dare frolic his reserves. In defense of the No. 1 rating, he used double quarterbacks by having Hanratty and Coley O’Brien in the same backfield. Another time, he employed two fullbacks, Conjar going the distance at that offensive position, and May filling in at left halfback.

Pitt scored a moral victory in its frustration of the Irish ease of recent victories, far beyond the sizeable margin on the scoreboard.

In the Notre Dame dressing room, after the trying ordeal, Ara wiped his brow and said:

“This certainly proves my contention that there is no such thing as an ‘easy’ game. We were flat in the first half and Pittsburgh played an outstanding game.”

“They didn’t make any mistakes in the first half. They played us to a standstill.”

“No one hit Eddy on that kickoff return, but on his 51-yard run he landed on his bad shoulder and we thought we’d better take him out. It’s a moderate shoulder bruise; he should be OK next week.”

“We didn’t use Jim Seymour because we weren’t sure about his condition. It really was two different ball games. In the first half, Pitt made no mistakes and we did. In the second half, they made some mistakes and we took advantage of them.”

Is Notre Dame still No. 1?

Next week the Fighting Irish head to South Carolina to take on Clemson. Which ND vs. Clemson game should I feature? Got one in mind? Send your suggestions my way!

Cheers & GO IRISH!