Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2015 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 87 of 92

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE? He provided security for the Irish and to the Homeland BY LOU SOMOGYI A s a McLean, Va., native, and now a Falls Church, Va., resident for more than four decades, 1966‑68 Notre Dame quarterback/running back Coley O'Brien made it a priority to attend the Sept. 12 Notre Dame visit to Virginia. "That was an important game because that was the first time Notre Dame ever played in the state of Virginia," he said. "That would have been awful to me los‑ ing that one." Starting Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire suffered a season‑ending broken ankle in the third quarter, and flashbacks to nearly 50 years ago were flowing through O'Brien's memory when untested sophomore DeShone Kizer was sent in as the replacement. "I have a soft spot for backup quar‑ terbacks who are thrown into important games," O'Brien said. There is not a more significant situ‑ ation like that in Notre Dame football annals than the one O'Brien faced on Nov. 19, 1966, in the "Game of the Cen‑ tury" showdown between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State in East Lansing. Seldom in college football history has a game had more prime NFL talent on the field. Michigan State had four of the top eight players selected in the follow‑ ing spring's draft, including the top two in defensive lineman Bubba Smith and linebacker George Webster. Yet when Smith separated Irish All‑American quarterback and future second‑round pick Terry Hanratty's shoulder early in the contest, suddenly it was the 5‑11 diabetic O'Brien, whose eyesight also was a problem, thrust into the cauldron. Trailing 10‑0, the gutsy O'Brien took a snap from reserve center Tim Monty (in for the injured George Goeddeke), tossed a perfectly placed 34‑yard touch‑ down pass that went about 45 yards in the air to reserve running back Bob Gladieux (in for the injured Nick Eddy) Coley O'Brien, 1966-68 Quarterback/Running Back O'Brien served as a closer for Notre Dame's run to the 1966 national title. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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