In 2013, the Arizona State Sun Devils saw their quest for a conference title end with a loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game in Tempe.
Instead of heading to Pasadena on January 1, the Devils earned an invitation to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego against a Texas Tech team that had lost five consecutive games.
ASU came out flat and was dominated by the Red Raiders 38-24 in a game ugly enough to dampen the excitement surrounding the Sun Devils’ first 10-win season since 2007.
Fast forward a year. ASU saw its quest for a conference title end with a loss to Arizona in the annual Territorial Cup game in Tucson — a contest that was the de facto Pac-12 South championship game. Arizona earned the bid to Santa Clara, while Todd Graham’s team accepted a bid to the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas to take on the Duke Blue Devils Dec. 27.
The Sun Devils are trying to avoid ending their season with two consecutive disappointing losses for the second straight season.
“I love the attitude of this football team,” Graham said earlier this month. “We have one focus. Obviously, going to a bowl game and all that is a reward for a 9-win season. But our guys are hungry for the 10th one.”