Devils and leprechauns will descend on Arlington this weekend, as Arizona State and Notre Dame prepare for this year's Shamrock Series game. Both teams will bust out brand new uniforms for this Saturday night showdown.
The Sun Devils will bring the 12th-ranked scoring offense with them, an attack spearheaded by receiver Jaelen Strong, who is fourth in the Pac-12 in receiving yardage. He won't be the only one giving Notre Dame defensive coaches headaches, either -- the Sun Devils also have the talented Marion Grice to carry their rushing attack. Despite a slow start to 2013, Grice remains extremely dangerous and a clear point of concern for the Irish.
In Irish news, head coach Brian Kelly said earlier this week that there is no quarterback controversy and that Tommy Rees is still his starter, despite a ugly three-interception day against Oklahoma. If that's the case, then Rees will have to play substantially better than he did against the Sooners -- and the last several opponents, really. Despite a 10:5 TD:INT ratio on the year, Rees has completed just 23-of-58 passes in his last two games, with three touchdowns to three interceptions during that time.
Rankings and records: This will be the third ever meeting between these two teams, a series that Notre Dame currently leads 2-0. Arizona State climbed back into the polls after its huge win over USC, while Notre Dame fell out after a 35-21 loss to Oklahoma.
Three names to know
Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame defensive tackle) -- Though he is less heralded than running mate Louis Nix III's, the 6'6, 312 pound Tuitt has been Notre Dame's most consistent force inside this year, leading the team with two sacks and placing second with five quarterback hurries.
Will Sutton (Arizona State defensive tackle) -- While he is already a known commodity, Sutton has yet to play up to the fantastically high standard he set last season, when he recorded 12 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss. Through four games, Sutton has touched only a fraction of those numbers -- the big defensive tackle has only one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss so far, numbers that will have to come up if Arizona State is to challenge for Pac-12 eliteness.
Alden Darby (Arizona State safety) -- Besides Sutton, Darby is the other anchor in the Arizona State defense, and with a stat line like his, its not hard to see why. The versatile senior has been all over the board this year, recording 19 tackles (one for loss), a pair of interceptions, a forced fumble and three pass breakups.
Two things at stake
Arizona State climbed back into the rankings last weekend and obviously would very much like to stay there. Just as importantly, though, this is a chance for Todd Graham's squad to redeem itself -- its loss to Stanford was nationally televised, and despite what the final score may have indicated, it was never even that close. Beating Notre Dame at a neutral site should help repair the Sun Devils' image a bit.
Notre Dame is now 3-2, with two more major tests remaining -- this upcoming one against Arizona State and a season-ending matchup against No. 5 Stanford. A bowl berth still looks likely, but any more losses from here on out will make 2013 a rather disappointing effort from Brian Kelly's crew.
How to witness
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Online streaming: NBC Sports