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Arizona State not looking ahead to crucial showdown at UCLA

LISTEN: Todd Graham, ASU football head coach

The Arizona State Sun Devils control their own destiny in terms of the Pac-12 South pecking order.

Win out, and the Devils will make their first-ever appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The South could very well be determined by ASU’s game in Pasadena against UCLA Nov. 23.

But there’s one game before that highly-anticipated matchup. The Oregon State Beavers (6-3, 4-2) visit Sun Devil Stadium — a site where they’re 1-17 in their last 18 trips.

Although the importance of next week’s game very evident to anyone who can read the conference standings, ASU head coach Todd Graham isn’t concerned that his team is looking ahead to their game against the Bruins.

“We’ve got to be ready to play, period,” Graham told Doug and Wolf Friday morning on Arizona Sports 620. “You want to be a champion, you can’t do stuff like that. That’s what average teams are that go to bowl games, they do stuff like that. A championship team has to bring it every single week.”

For the most part, ASU has done that in conference play. After losing at Stanford to open up Pac-12 play, the 19th-ranked Sun Devils have reeled off five straight conference wins by an average margin of 23.2 points.

“There’s not been a conference game that we haven’t brought it. We have had one game in this conference where we played poorly and I really think it wasn’t to do with our guys not being ready to play, it was a debacle in the special teams,” Graham said. “Since the Stanford game, our guys have played every week. Played pretty hard, been prepared. Even the Notre Dame game is a game that we feel like that we lost that we should have won, and beat ourselves.”

Granted, not looking ahead to UCLA is made easier by the fact that Oregon State is a good football team. The Beavers, coached by Mike Riley, feature the top passing combination in the country with quarterback Sean Mannion throwing to dynamic wideout Brandin Cooks. The duo

“Our guys know what they’re going up against,” Graham said. “We’ve got the number one quarterback in the country coming in here in passing. We’ve got the number one receiver, our guys know the challenge ahead of them. They’re not looking past anybody and that won’t be the excuse.

“The bottom line is you’ve got to go out there and win this game and the margin for error is very small.”