Remembering the tie in the Big Ten

Big Ten history buff? Go check out the picture on the ESPN.com college football front page.

It'll take you back to a different time, 44 years to be exact. Back in 1966, Michigan State was a national powerhouse and games that were tied after 60 minutes of play ended right there. So when the second-ranked Spartans and No. 1 Notre Dame finished regulation deadlocked at 10-10, that was it. No overtime. A tie was a tie.

Most of us can't stand tie games, but they were a big part of Big Ten football history. And love 'em or hate 'em, they created plenty of controversy. The Big Ten still seems to have an affinity for the tie, still awarding the title of co-champion even though it drives everyone crazy. Thankfully, the practice should end in 2011.

Colleague Ivan Maisel takes a look back at the tie in college football, and the Big Ten is featured prominently in his story.

A few notes:

  • The Michigan State-Notre Dame game in 1966 ranks as the biggest tie in college football history. The game ended in a 10-10 stalemate. Maisel writes: "With the national championship on the line, the Irish accepted the outcome, choosing to run out the clock instead of attempting to score in the final two minutes. Notre Dame won the national championship, all right, but certain precincts around East Lansing and Tuscaloosa consider it tainted."

  • Another 10-10 tie, this one between Ohio State and Michigan in 1973, ranks as college football's No. 3 tie of all time. Maisel writes: "Despite the "upset," the Big Ten voted to send the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl. [Bo] Schembechler raised such a stink that the league voted to allow more than one team to play in a bowl game, the first step down the road to the 35 bowls we have today."

  • A 14-14 tie between Iowa and Notre Dame in 1953 ranks as the No. 10 tie of all time. Maisel writes: "The Hawkeyes dominated this game, yet the Irish scored the tying touchdown in the waning seconds. Notre Dame had those waning seconds because a few Irish players feigned injury to stop the clock."

Hmmm, interesting how many of these famous ties included Notre Dame. Perhaps the Fighting Irish should petition the NCAA to dump overtime and bring back the tie. It might make Notre Dame a top-20 team again.

One final nugget regarding Big Ten ties: the last tie in the FBS took place between two Big Ten teams, as Wisconsin and Illinois played to a 3-3 tie on Nov. 25, 1995. Overtime arrived for the 1996 season.