SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly didn't have to look hard for a key to this weekend's game against Arizona State.
The Irish (3-2) are coming off a 35-21 loss to No. 11 Oklahoma (4-0) thanks to two long touchdowns by the Sooners. The No. 22 Sun Devils (3-1) are coming off a 62-41 win over USC, in which they gained 612 yards.
"We can't afford to give up any big plays," Kelly said Tuesday. "Eliminating the big play defensively is absolutely crucial to our success."
Arizona State is averaging 505 yards and 44.3 points, while Notre Dame is giving up 364 yards and 23.8 points per game.
"(Taylor) Kelly, the quarterback, is precise, throws a great ball, talented receivers go up and catch the football," Kelly said. "(Marion) Grice is a tremendous back, just a very talented football team, and obviously played very well this past weekend."
Notre Dame and Arizona State haven't played each other since the Irish picked up a 48-17 home win on Oct. 8, 1999.
But there is recent history between Kelly and Arizona State coach Todd Graham.
Graham led Tulsa to a 28-27 upset victory over Notre Dame on Oct. 30, 2010 – Kelly's first season with the Irish. Last season, Graham was at Pittsburgh when Notre Dame needed three overtimes to come out with a 29-26 victory on Nov. 3.
"(We're) very familiar with their styles of offense and defense," Kelly said.
Saturday's game is part of Notre Dame's Shamrock Series, in which the Irish play a home game at a neutral site. This year, the game is at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Kelly said the coaches will use the trip to help recruiting in north Texas as the staff will attend some high school games Friday night in the area.
"Certainly getting some recruits locally to come to the game, you know, we certainly can't see them, but we can provide tickets. That helps in that respect," Kelly said. "A bump would probably be a good word. Is it going to seal the deal for us in a lot of these instances? Probably not, but it certainly helps to have the kind of exposure there."