JOHN MARSHALL, AP College Football Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Sun Devil Stadium has been the site of some epic games, including two national championship games and dozens of bowls.
The team that plays there on a regular basis, Arizona State, has been involved in some big ones, too, and may be facing the biggest yet against Notre Dame on Saturday.
The Sun Devils enter the game No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings and are No. 11 in The Associated Press Top 25. The Irish are No. 8 in the AP poll, but are a spot behind Arizona State in the playoff rankings.
Arizona State students have been camping out since Monday to get tickets and a capacity crowd is expected for a rare day game at Sun Devil Stadium.
Where does it rank among the best games in the 56-year history of the stadium? We’ll let you decide that after reading this rundown of Sun Devil Stadium’s marquee games through the years:
Dec. 7, 2013, No. 7 Stanford vs. No. 11 Arizona State. An argument can be made that last year’s Pac-12 Championship game deserves to be No. 1 on the list — a spot in the Rose Bowl was on the line, after all. Arizona State won the Pac-12 South in its second season under coach Todd Graham and the Cardinal knocked off No. 2 Oregon to claim the North, setting up a rematch from a regular-season meeting nearly three months earlier. Stanford won the first game in Northern California by racing out to a big lead and did the same thing to the Sun Devils in Tempe, cruising to the Rose Bowl for the second straight season with a 38-14 win.
Nov. 1, 1986, No. 6 Washington vs. No. 7 Arizona State. A game featuring the second-highest ranked teams in Sun Devil Stadium history. Washington, playing under coach Don James, entered the game 6-1, with three victories over ranked teams and a 10-point loss to No. 12 USC. Arizona State, led by coach John Cooper, entered the game 6-0-1 after tying Washington State the third game of the season. The Sun Devils beat the Huskies 34-21 and went on to knock off Michigan in the Rose Bowl, their only victory in the Granddaddy of Them All.
Sept. 21, 1996, No. 1 Nebraska vs. No. 19 Arizona State. The Cornhuskers were the dominant team in college football at the time and had scored 62 points to claim their second national title on the same field eight months earlier. Led by Jake Plummer and an attacking defense, the Sun Devils never gave Nebraska a chance. Playing on a hot night in front of a capacity crowd of more than 74,000, Arizona State avenged a 77-28 loss to Nebraska the previous season by manhandling the Cornhuskers 19-0. The Sun Devils went on to finish the regular season undefeated, but lost to Ohio State in a close Rose Bowl.
Oct. 1, 2005, No. 1 USC vs. No. 14 Arizona State. In another hot game in the desert, the Sun Devils jumped on the two-time defending national champion Trojans at the start, racing out to a 21-3 halftime lead. After struggling to get anything going through the air, USC coach Pete Carroll had quarterback Matt Leinart turn and hand the ball off instead of trying to throw it downfield. Once the Trojans got to running, the Sun Devils had no chance of stopping them. LenDale White ran for 197 yards and Reggie Bush added 158 to send USC to its 26th straight victory, 38-28 over Arizona State.
Nov. 1, 1997, No. 10 Washington State vs. No. 20 Arizona State. Before he was an NFL bust, Ryan Leaf was one of the best quarterbacks in college football. He and the Cougars were undefeated headed into the game against the Sun Devils, who had already lost to BYU and Washington. Still considered one of the loudest games in Sun Devil Stadium, it featured big swings of momentum, with the Sun Devils jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead and the Cougars scoring 18 straight points. Arizona State won 44-31, but Washington State went on to the Rose Bowl, where it lost to Michigan. Leaf went on to … well, you know that story.
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)