|Dick Kenney’s barefoot FG gave MSU a 10-0 lead over ND in 1966.|
The first “Game of the Century” of my lifetime was the infamous 1966 showdown between host Michigan State and Notre Dame.
Infamous, because Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseighan elected to fall on the ball with a 10-10 tie rather than go for the win. Notre Dame was ranked No. 1 at the time, Michigan State No. 2. That might have had something to do with the decision.
Too young to remember it, but I read up about it when subsequent “Games of the Century” followed in 1968 (Harvard vs. Yale) and 1971 (Oklahoma vs. Nebraska).
By 1971, I was old enough to know that “Game of the Century” didn’t mean “Games of the Century” so I did some research.
All three had legitimate claims.
Notre Dame was No. 1, Michigan No. 2.
Nebraska No. 1, Oklahoma No. 2.
Harvard and Yale?
The last game between Ivy League schools when one (Yale, ranked No. 22) was nationally relevant.
All great hype, all great games.
A lot of debate there, so I couldn’t decide.
That got me to thinking.
What is Temple’s Game of the Century?
Since this century technically started in 2001, I’ve narrowed it down to two choices:
Eagle Bank Bowl, 2009
Temple vs. South Florida, 2012
Eagle Bank Bowl is a fine choice because that was Temple’s first trip to a bowl in 30 years and gave the Owls an opportunity to beat a “name” opponent (UCLA) on national TV. The Owls fell short in that one, 30-21, primarily because franchise running back Bernard Pierce pulled a hammy and didn’t play in the second half after leading the Owls to a 21-10 lead.
Tomorrow’s Temple vs. South Florida game is a better choice, at least in my mind.
That’s because Temple is in the UNIQUE position (unlike any other team in the United States) to play a first game in a conference that kicked it out for being non-competitive and the statement Temple can make is to beat an opponent who got votes as the best team in the Big East in a pre-season poll.
In fact, Louisville got 24 votes to finish in first place. South Florida got the other four.
Temple has gotten hammered in the Big East media and elsewhere for losing its non-conference games in a conference that has three unbeaten teams. Even South Florida (Nevada) has a quality win.
Temple does not.
If Temple wins, it gets to make a statement it could not make in any other game this century, beating a team that was at least going into the season considered one of the best two in the conference. It can make a statement before a large Homecoming Day crowd saying 26 wins in three years is no fluke and not the product of being in the MAC.
If Temple loses, it’s just another game and could cause an unexpected slide backward.
If Temple wins, it’s saying something else, like Temple is a contender for the title right now, not five years down the road. Montel Harris’ dream of leading the Owls to the Orange Bowl remains alive.
Game of the Century?
And that ain’t no hyperbole, pardon my French.
Tomorrow: Game Day Preview