Todd Graham understands there are no do-overs in college football.
Each week is, essentially, a different chapter in 13-week book so it was to no one’s surprise the disciplined Graham wasn’t interested in peeking ahead to Notre Dame until business was handled against a tough Utah team.
After dispatching the talented Utes in overtime to improve to 7-1, 5-1 the Devils now focus their attention on the Irish (7-1) which edged ASU 37-34 in Arlington, Texas last October.
Graham’s team is riding a four-game win streak behind a much-improved defense and the return of quarterback Taylor Kelly. Notre Dame’s only loss was a close, some believe controversial, setback to unbeaten Florida State in Tallahassee.
As the Tempe temperatures drop and students continue to pitch tents outside Wells Fargo Arena this week the buzz is building for the biggest non-conference game since #3 Georgia visited back in 2008.
“You’ve got to win in November to put yourself in position to play for a Pac-12 championship,” Graham said during his weekly Monday press conference in Tempe.
The Independent Irish won’t help the Devils widen their led in the Pac-12 South but a win over the 10th-ranked team in the country would aid ASU’s chances at a possible playoff berth with upcoming games against currently 12th-ranked Arizona and possibly Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game next month in northern California.
This year’s version of Notre Dame is far different from the one they saw last year at AT&T Stadium just west of Dallas. Everett Golson, who was suspended all of last season for poor academic judgment, is back and playing the best football of his career. The senior has thrown for over 2300 yards and 22 touchdowns. He’s been intercepted just seven times.
Graham believes he and his team will be ready for the challenge.
“I want to coach in the this game, It’s pretty awesome,” he said with a wide-eyed grin. “Could there be a better opportunity for us? This is arguably the best football team we’ve all year-long. With this comes great opportunity.”
Nothing beats meaningful games in November.