PHOENIX - It was about a month ago that we were talking about Arizona State's tough four-game stretch: Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame all in a row. But here we are, four weeks later and the Sun Devils are sitting at 3-1 and ranked #22 in this week's Associated Press College Football Poll.
Amazing what a crazy, last second win over Wisconsin and then a blowout win over USC will do for perspective. Thinking back on it, had the Wisconsin coaching staff been just a few seconds better at clock management and had the officiating crew been just slightly better at managing the end of a crazy game, ASU could be sitting at 2-2 and looking less like a BCS Bowl contender than they do today!
But that's all behind us now, and other than a horrible first half in Palo Alto against the Cardinal, ASU is looking like a solid Pac-12 South contender.
This last game of the four game stretch is against one of the most storied programs in college football history, Notre Dame.
With a win over the Fighting Irish on Saturday, ASU can accomplish something no other team in history has ever done: become the first team to beat USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks.
Thirteen teams have tried over the years, but only two have gotten past the first game, only to have been beaten up in week two. From the looks of how both teams played last Saturday, the Sun Devils have a legitimate shot!
Arizona State football coach Todd Graham put it this way, "This game is a national game for us, an opportunity for our players. I talked to them yesterday about making history. They can be the first team in college football history to beat USC and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks. That has never happened. I would say that is pretty significant."
What makes this game even more significant and interesting is the fact that Notre Dame is limping into the game after losses to Michigan and Oklahoma.
"It is a game that is very important," Coach Graham said. "Is it more important than the Pac-12 games? No, it is not. That is how we emphasize it to our players. But it is very important to our fan base, very important to our football program."
Another important consideration for Coach Graham and his staff is recruiting in Texas. The Sun Devils haven't played in Texas since the 1997 Sun Bowl, so getting a win over a team like Notre Dame in the Cowboys Stadium would be a huge boost for recruiting.
"Our number one recruiting area is right here in Arizona and California. That is our base recruiting area," Graham said. "The next recruiting area is Texas. It has been very productive for us. Obviously, we are going there to play and it is a big deal for us."
But despite all the hoopla surrounding the game, the Devils' number one goal is come away with a win over the Irish!
ASU comes into Saturday's game having cost Lane Kiffin his job after the Devils rolled over USC late Saturday night 62-41. While ASU was able to put 62 points on the board against a very good Trojan defense, Coach Todd Graham was not happy with his defense. The Sun Devils have struggled on defense, with the run defense being the biggest issue.
On the other hand, Notre Dame has put itself in a position where the Irish need to reel off seven consecutive wins if they hope to garner an invitation to a BCS game.
What makes this game even more intriguing is the fact that Saturday's game will be the first time these two teams have met in 15 years!
Tight end Chris Coyle says winning in Arlington will take discipline, something that wasn't the case at No. 5 Stanford in mid-September.
"We've got to have everybody buying in, nobody distracting anybody," Coyle said. "Coach has made it completely clear that nobody is allowed to be messing around this trip. This is 100 percent business. We've got to go in there focused. Last time it was a big-time game, first road game, people were a little bit on their heels. We're never going to let that happen again."
(22) Arizona State (3-1) vs. Notre Dame (3-2)
Saturday, October 5, 2013
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas – 4:30 P.M. (Pacific Time)