For the Bulloughs and the Allens, Notre Dame rivalry is a family affair
To Byron Bullough and Brian Allen, MSU’s rivalry with Notre Dame is more than just a game. For them, it’s an opportunity to reflect upon their childhood and their roots.
MSU will take on the Fighting Irish this Saturday under the lights on the national stage for the first time this season.
It will be the last time these two foes will face each other in the regular season until 2026.
No one on this year’s roster will ever face the Fighting Irish again, and head coach Mark Dantonio said he likely won’t coach the Spartans in another game against Notre Dame after Saturday.
“Yeah, last one. That's crazy to think about actually,” Bullough said. “I remember my brother Max's first game in 2010 as a true freshman against Notre Dame, so that's pretty crazy to think about.”
Bullough is a third-generation Spartan, following the footsteps of his father, his brother, one of his grandfathers and several uncles.
What makes the rivalry even more special for Bullough is his late uncle, Jim Morse Jr., and his grandfather Jim Morse Sr. both played for Notre Dame.
“I grew up watching Notre Dame on the TV and going to games,” he said. “I vividly remember going to the bookstore with my grandparents and everyone before the games. That was kind of a little tradition. It's definitely special.”
Byron did admit that this rivalry means a little more to him because of his family history.
“I think it does (mean a little more),” he said. “It's just been in my family. I've got posters of Notre Dame and Michigan State all around the house. So, it is extra, but at the end of the day, we're just trying to go 3-0.”
Both Byron and Allen were in attendance at Spartan Stadium on that September night in 2010 when the Spartans faced the Irish in a game that would be forever etched in the history books.
Trailing by three points in overtime, kicker Dan Conroy came out to kick a long field goal to keep the Spartans in the game.
The ball was snapped and the holder, Aaron Bates, secured the ball. Instead of placing the ball on the ground for Conroy to kick, Bates held onto it, looking to throw.
Bates would soon find tight end Charlie Gantt for a 29-yard game-winning touchdown.
“It was pretty cool,” Allen said. “It was my first real college football experience, so just being there for that and see them win was pretty sweet. Back then (what is the media center now) was where the old locker room was. (It was) in a trailer pretty much, so it was just pretty cool being in there and seeing those guys celebrate — some of the great Spartans like Greg Jones and Max Bullough. Having those guys in there was pretty cool to see as a 14-year-old kid.”
Growing up, Allen, a native of Hinsdale, Illinois, lived just two hours from Notre Dame’s campus.
With Notre Dame so close to Allen, the senior lineman would always see people from his area going to the Irish’s games.
“Being from the Chicagoland area, you think people are Illinois or Northwestern fans, but it’s really Notre Dame territory there,” he said. “Growing up, everyone goes to Notre Dame’s games and getting out of there is just horrible — going back (home) because that’s where all their fans are from for the most part. So, I’ve been around those fans for a while and it’s just been a game I’ve always been excited for.”
Saturday’s meeting will mark the 79th time the Spartans have faced the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 48-29-1.
“It's a rivalry game,” Bullough said. “It's up there with the Michigan game and things like that, so you better bring your 'A' game. It's going to be physical game until the end, so you better be ready for it.”