The Arizona State Sun Devils finished their regular season with a 41-34 Territorial Cup win over the Arizona Wildcats, which, along with a few other reasons, is why the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl invited them to play in their game.
"There's a whole ton of things you look at when you invite a team to a bowl game," said Gary Cavalli, Executive Director of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. "We felt that Arizona State, winning that last game against Arizona, would have an excited fan base that would make the trip out here, that they would be much more pumped about going to the bowl game than say the Wildcats would, who lost the game."
The Wildcats ultimately accepted an invitation to play in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, which they won in a 49-48 thriller over Nevada. It was the first game of the bowl season and not known as one of the more prestigious games to play in.
The Sun Devils, on the other hand, are preparing to face Navy on December 29. Cavalli said Arizona State has sold about 5,000 tickets so far -- and that they were hoping for 10,000 -- but added there's still time and there is a strong effort being made to get more maroon and gold-clad fans to the game.
"I know that coach Graham has taped a phone message that the Arizona State athletic department is calling every single alum in Northern California to encourage them to come to the game," Cavalli said, "and I've already got some calls from some of those people, so I think the phone campaign is working."
The Sun Devils will need the support to match what the opposition will bring to the game, as Cavalli said Navy will have "a heck of a tailgate party" in one of the piers near the stadium.
"They're going to have about 6,000 Navy fans going to a pregame tailgate there."