The Fighting Irish are traveling to Tempe this weekend to take on Arizona State in a game that will likely define both teams’ potential as a contender in the playoffs as well as eligibility for postseason bowl games. Both Notre Dame and the Sun Devils have only one loss so far this season, which will ultimately result in a climb in the rankings for whichever team emerges with a victory.
An important comparison amongst these two teams. both in the top-15, is the nature of that one loss. Notre Dame suffered its only defeat of the season so far in Tallahassee against the reigning national champion Seminoles. The loss was a huge heartbreak for the Fighting Irish, as it came in the final 13 seconds of the fourth quarter and as the result of a very controversial offensive holding call, which took back the game-winning touchdown made by Corey Robinson. Arizona State’s only loss came at home in a staggering 62-27 blowout against UCLA, who is currently ranked at No. 18 with a 7-2 record
The Sun Devils and the Fighting Irish also each have one very narrow 3-point victory against a lower ranked team. Notre Dame escaped with a 17-14 win over a still unranked Stanford at home in South Bend earlier in the season. Arizona State barely emerged victorious ahead of Utah this past Saturday in an overtime game which finished in a 19-16 win for ASU at home. The Utah Utes currently hang onto an AP Poll spot at No. 20 going into week 11.
Each team has also lost notable players in the past week. Notre Dame’s starting linebacker Joe Schmidt was declared out for the remainder of the season after suffering an ankle injury that will require surgery in this past Saturday’s win against Navy. This will pose a serious challenge for the Fighting Irish defensive line, which is ranked 28th in the nation. Arizona State defensive end Demetrius Cherry was suspended last week after a DUI arrest. It has not yet been determined if he will play in this weekend’s game. Cherry has started in two games and has had 12 tackles this season.
Arizona State is a one-point favorite over Notre Dame. Despite being ranked higher in the AP Poll, Notre Dame falls one spot behind No. 9 Arizona State at No. 10 in the second week of the College Football Ranking System. Coming down to the final remaining weeks of the regular season, this game will be a significant factor for both teams advancing postseason, as the winner will have a much better shot to make the playoffs.
*Section Photo credit to Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Matt Cashore, USA Today Sports