Most coaches employ a a 24-hour rule after victories, especially after landmark ones like Arizona State had over Notre Dame. In earning a 55-31 win over then-No. 10 Notre Dame, the Sun Devils accomplished the rare feet of building a 31-point lead, spotting Notre Dame 28 points, and then building a 24-point lead. The win pushed Arizona State to 8-1 on the season, and suddenly the Sun Devils' stock has risen faster than afternoon temperatures on a summer day in Tempe. With consecutive wins over USC, Stanford, Washington, Utah and Notre Dame, Todd Graham's team has jumped from the fringes to the thick of the national title race, and wins over Oregon State, Washington State, Arizona and Oregon will assuredly put Arizona State into the College Football Playoff.
However, none of that has happened yet. Graham's first words to his club in the locker room Saturday reminded them as much.
"We have not accomplished any of our goals yet," Graham said. "Everybody else is surprised - we're not. We're not surprised. We've got Oregon State on the road - on the road - that's the next step. You got me? Nothing else matters.... As soon as you get done with that fight song, let's go to Oregon State."
Graham's tone then switched from that of a father walking in on his adolescent sons conducting a water balloon fight around mom's fine china to that of a coach whose team just recorded one of the most impressive wins in school history.
"I'm proud of you guys," he said. "Proud of the coaches, proud of the staff in here. The thing that I'm most proud of is not that we win, it's how we win - character. We've got guys that lay it on the line for their team. That's how we do it. Class. Toughness. You got me? Never in my career have I felt a team like this. We've got a real team, men. You know what it is? It's what's inside here. Remember who you represent - your family, people who put you here. You're representing them tonight, you guys got me?"