When Arizona State and Notre Dame agreed to a home-and-home series in 2007, both programs were coming off of mediocre seasons, and the hope was that the Sun Devils and Fighting Irish would return to prominence when they squared off in 2013-14. When the two teams meet up on Saturday, it'll mark the second year that the game gets primetime coverage, but this is the first year that both teams are ranked.
Notre Dame and Arizona State both boast rich histories, but their paths have rarely crossed. Before 2013's showdown, the Fighting Irish and Sun Devils had only played twice, in 1998-99. Notre Dame earned convincing wins in both games.
But in 2013, it was the Fighting Irish that entered AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas as underdogs, unranked in the season after their trip to the national championship game. With losses to ranked teams Michigan and Oklahoma, Notre Dame had dropped out of the Top 25 and were without their quarterback from the 2012 national championship season, as Everett Golson was suspended for the season.
On the other hand, Arizona State was coming into Arlington ranked No. 22 in the nation, fresh off a 62-41 stomping of the USC Trojans. The Sun Devils looked at the nationally televised game against the Irish as an opportunity to impress both Texas and national recruits, wearing the brand-new flame helmets with the blackout uniform.
The two teams kicked off at 4:30 pm Arizona time, but the action didn't start until around 5:00 pm, when the second quarter rolled around. A scoreless first period made way for a high-scoring second quarter, as Arizona State took a 6-0 lead off of a pair of Zane Gonzalez field goals. Notre Dame only scored twice in the quarter, but both went for six points as a pair of Tommy Rees touchdown passes put the Irish up. Continuing his breakout redshirt sophomore season, Jaelen Strong caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Kelly, and Arizona State trailed 14-13 at the end of the first half.
Notre Dame came out of the half and dominated in the third quarter, shutting out the high-tempo Arizona State offense. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish offense was able to find cracks in the Sun Devil defense, scoring on a 51-yard field goal and 21-yard Troy Niklas touchdown catch. After three quarters, Notre Dame led 24-13.
Arizona State climbed back early in the fourth quarter, as Osahon Irabor's pick-six less than 15 seconds into the period pulled the Sun Devils within four points at 24-20. A Notre Dame field goal upped the deficit to a touchdown, and Arizona State answered right back with a 21-yard De'Marieya Nelson touchdown catch. The Sun Devil defense forced a Notre Dame field goal, and down 30-27 with just over three minutes remaining, Arizona State had a chance to win the game.
WIth a chance to become the first team ever to beat USC and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks, the Sun Devils took over on their own 1-yard line. On the first play of the drive however, Taylor Kelly threw an interception to Notre Dame's Dan Fox, who ran it back 14 yards for a Notre Dame touchdown. Arizona State climbed back within three points on a 16-yard Marion Grice touchdown catch, but the Sun Devils weren't able to recover the onside kick and Notre Dame kneeled off the rest of the clock to secure the victory.