Arizona State's main focus is winning the Pac-12, a goal repeated plenty of times by coach Todd Graham on Monday. But the second-year Sun Devils coach admitted playing Notre Dame adds importance, for fans, players and the program's perception alike.
"Our guys will be very motivated to play in this game," Graham told members of the media. "It is a national game. It is a game that is very important. 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."
Graham added playing the game in Texas -- a recruiting base he (and Notre Dame) hope to grow -- strengthens the impact of the game. And too, Graham pointed out no team has ever beat USC and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks -- something 13 teams have attempted, and failed, to do.
Arizona State beat USC, 62-41, last week in Lane Kiffin's final game coaching the Trojans.
"I talked to them yesterday about making history," Graham said. "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."