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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Football Firsts - Michigan State 1897

Notre Dame Easily Downed Michigan Agricultural College

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My off-season series of “Notre Dame Football Firsts” continues this week with the first meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan State - 1897.

So far I’ve covered USC, Stanford, Navy, Purdue, and the first Spring Game at Notre Dame. This week I’m going to take a look back at Notre Dame’s first matchup against Michigan State in 1897.

Notre Dame and Michigan State have played each other 77 times, with the first meeting occurring on November 25th, 1897. Notre Dame beat Michigan State by a score of 34-6. In the series, Notre Dame has won 47 times, Michigan State 29 times, and the two teams have tied once.

The below excerpt from the first Notre Dame - Michigan State game comes from the Chicago Tribune.

Notre Dame Easily Downed Michigan Agricultural College, 34-6

Notre Dame defeated the Michigan Agricultural college yesterday afternoon by the large score of 34 to 6. The Michiganders really had no license to score on the ‘varsity and the mark was due to loose playing. Notre Dame otherwise played a strong game and practically scored against the visitors at will. This game closes the season at the university. It has not been as satisfactory as former years owing to the fact that the amateur rule was strictly conformed to, but a good foundation was laid for a winning team next year.

Now I’d like to share Toryan Smith’s favorite memory from his time playing football at Notre Dame, which happens to involve a game versus Michigan State. (Toryan is featured in my second book.)

Toryan Smith

A football career at Notre Dame is filled with countless memories and moments that live in a player’s mind forever. Often the most memorable times occur early in their college football career.

My best Notre Dame football memory was playing Michigan State in East Lansing my freshman year (2006). That year we played Michigan State on the road and came from 21 points behind to beat MSU. That’s when I really felt the magic of Notre Dame. It was a big-time game and we had a quarterback competing for the Heisman; simply put, it was an epic game, an instant classic. I was just getting used to playing football, the hectic schedule, balancing football and class work. That game really solidified to me that I was an integral part of a big-time football program.

And one more from former Notre Dame football player (class of 1964) Marty Olosky. (Marty is featured in my third book.)

Marty Olosky

As Marty was from Michigan, I asked him what it was like to return to his home state and play against the University of Michigan State, where many of his friends were attending college. “It was actually really fun. When I was a sophomore, we traveled to East Lansing to play Michigan State University, and I remember that was definitely one of the highlights of my time playing football at Notre Dame. It was great to go back to Michigan, and play the Spartans in their stadium. That game, when I was a sophomore, was the first time I played Michigan State, as freshmen back then typically weren’t allowed to play. Only sophomores, juniors, and seniors were allowed to play. And they had a different system back then as well. They didn’t run an offensive squad and a defensive squad, but rather they had a first team, second team, and third team. Most of the playing was done by the first, second and third teams, not by offense and defense.”

Next week I’ll take a look at ND-Pitt, 1909.

Cheers & GO IRISH!