Back in 2010, when Todd Graham was the head coach at Tulsa, his Golden Hurricanes went to South Bend and knocked off the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The 28-27 victory went down in the school’s history as one of its biggest wins on the gridiron.
With all due respect to that accomplishment, Arizona State’s game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl is by far the biggest and most important game in Graham’s coaching career.
“That Notre Dame win was pretty special, I think we were 21-point underdogs or something like that,” Graham told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 620 Friday. “But yeah, (the UCLA game) is one we want pretty bad.”
With a victory, the 17th-ranked Sun Devils would win the Pac-12 South and claim their spot in the conference championship game December 7. Winning a title, even a division title, would be a huge accomplishment for Arizona State in only Graham’s second year at the helm.
“That’s what you work for, all the work that’s gone in, coming in, putting a plan in — you know, we had a very definitive plan when we came in here, and we’ve been very blessed that I inherited a great situation because we have great young people,” he said. “It would mean the world to me. Football is a passion for me, it’s not a job. That’s why I came here, because I want to win Pac-12 championships, I want to win Rose Bowl championships and eventually a national championship.”
A loss to the 14th-ranked Bruins wouldn’t eliminate ASU from the South race, but it would certainly make their path there a lot more difficult. The Sun Devils would need to beat Arizona next Saturday and then count on USC to beat UCLA at the Coliseum.
But going into the game against UCLA, Graham sounds confident that his team won’t need any help to clinch the South.
“I think our team is a much better team than people even think they are, these guys really play well together and we’re playing our best football right now.”
The game kicks off at 5:00 p.m. Phoenix time Saturday, and you can hear all the action on Arizona Sports 620 with Tim Healey, Jeff Van Raaphorst and Doug Franz on the call.