Arizona State's win over rival Arizona gives Graham validation that he's on the right track

Since the first day he arrived at Arizona State, coach Todd Graham had put a priority on beating rival Arizona.

Bowl eligibility was nice and so was a winning record, but what Graham wanted more than anything was to beat the Wildcats.

His team did it in dramatic fashion Friday night, scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter to pull out an emotional 41-34 victory in Tucson.

The win gave Graham the first blow in his rivalry with Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, his former boss at West Virginia, a jump in recruiting and a boost with the fan base.

It also gave Graham validation that what he's doing in his first season in Tempe is working.