ASU football draws Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, will play Navy

Coach Todd Graham speaks to a reporter following his first victory as ASU’s head coach against NAU 63-6 on Aug. 30. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

For the second time in as many seasons, the ASU football team will be competing in a bowl game. However, the 2012 bowl experience will likely have a very different feel than 2011.

Not only did coach Todd Graham lead the Sun Devils (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) to their first winning season since 2007, but did so while installing new values into the football program.

ASU will face Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and the values Graham installed will come full circle.

“I think the things that we have done (with) honor, character and discipline are some of the (areas where we have) made the greatest progress,” Graham said. “To play a team that embodies that, I think that is the perfect ending to the 2012 season.”

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl pairing did not become official until Sunday, but the Sun Devils have been preparing for the Midshipmen (7-4) for a few days.

“I’m really excited to play an academy,” junior tight end Chris Coyle said. “Out of high school, the academies were actually three of my top options to go to, and I have a lot of friends on the team.”

Bowl games often come with a lot of festivities, but the Sun Devils, who have not won a bowl game since the 2005 Insight Bowl, want the trip to be more than a California vacation.

Not only will it be the last time the 2012 Sun Devils play together, but also several players are from California and are relishing the opportunity to play in front of family and friends for a final time.

“The most (exciting) part is just getting there and being able to play for a ring,” redshirt senior cornerback Deveron Carr said. “I have never had any hardware. The bowl game is giving me an opportunity in my last year of college to win some hardware and wear it around.”

Like Carr and the rest of the Sun Devils, senior wide receiver Rashad Ross wants to end the season with a victory, but the receiver has a little something extra to play for. Ross played high school football 30 miles from AT&T Park and is excited to finish his ASU career in a place where his family and friends will be able to watch him play.

“It feels great,” Ross said. “Every time I go home, I play good so I’m just trying to end on a good note.”

 

Reach the reporter at william.boor@asu.edu