Through no fault of Arizona State's, their matchup with Notre Dame Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX is not quite what it was expected to be.
The Sun Devils held up their end of the bargain, entering the game 3-1 and ranked 22nd in the country, but the 3-2 Fighting Irish are unranked and looking nothing like the championship contender they were last season.
Still, this is not going to be your average, run-of-the mill college football game for a Sun Devil team that is not exactly used to big-time matchups. However, ASU athletic director Steve Patterson is not worried about how Todd Graham's team will handle the atmosphere.
"The field's still 100-yards long and they still line up with the same number of guys on the opposing side of the line," Patterson told Arizona Sports 620's Bickley with Marotta Tuesday. "You've just got to go play. I think it will be exciting."
This game, which is part of Notre Dame's "Shamrock Series," features both teams wearing new uniforms that were specifically designed for the matchup. The Fighting Irish will be wearing a white pants/jersey combination, and their gold helmet features a shamrock on the sides. Conversely, the Sun Devils will be wearing all black, with a helmet featuring flames and a few pitchforks.
"We wanted to do something different for the game," Patterson said. "No two helmets will be alike.
"It'll be sort of the flaming Sun Devils vs. the white-clad angels from Notre Dame."
Regardless of the atmosphere or the uniforms, Patterson knows this is a very important game for his team. It's the final of four straight against what figured to be upper-echelon opponents, and a win would give the Devils a 3-1 mark during that stretch. And of course, knocking off a team with the rich history of a Notre Dame would go a long way toward helping the program's image.
"It's a great opportunity for us to extend our brand," he said. "Folks will be able to see the exciting uniforms.
"Hopefully we go out and play well and be able to provide a platform to tell the story of all the great things that go on here at ASU."