I understand that monster passing stats, long runs, and the scoreboard going off like a pinball machine captivates college football fans, but Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o has shown how when defenses go hunting for goose eggs that the power of zero can provide the “wow factor” for audiences.
Te’o has been the cornerstone of an Irish defense that has only allowed 8.7 points per game with 57 tackles and 3 interceptions, and has also prevented the Notre Dame offense from being exposed as to how weak of a unit they actually are. Their defensive presence has been the saving grace for the Irish because the anemic offense has been sub-par, to say the least. To this point in the season, Notre Dame has been the epitome of the concept that “Defense Wins Championships” because they have not allowed an offensive touchdown to be scored against their defense in the last four games against Michigan, Michigan State, Miami, and Stanford. That sort of defensive presence brings such an intimidation factor to the Fighting Irish football team, and allowing ZERO offensive touchdowns against those offensive juggernauts is beyond impressive. No FBS team that has played against anyone of consequence has been able to come near that feat this year, and in this day and age of college football with teams being offensive-oriented, it makes the Irish defense and Te’o stand out even more.
So far this season there have been several players that have been rumored to be in contention for the Heisman Trophy like: West Virginia QB Geno Smith, Kansas State QB Collin Klein, and Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel. While these esteemed players have produed some great credentials, I believe that Te’o is the clear leader for the Heisman. Each of the aforementioned players have developed flaws, and now is the time for a defensive player to emerge as the Heisman winner. While I agree that the quarterback plays a vital role for teams, Notre Dame has risen to the #5 spot in the rankings without an offense or a quarterback to speak of.
I realize that the only defensive player to receive the Heisman was Charles Woodson (Safety-Michigan), and, truthfully, he really did not win the award for his defensive prowess because it was based more off of his ability to return punts for touchdowns. However, if there were to be any true defensive player to break through and win the Heisman, it would be Te’o. All of the Notre Dame games are played on national television, and the voters will be able to watch Notre Dame’s incredible defensive story unfold each week. In addition, it is obvious that as Notre Dame’s success continues to grow the Heisman voters are going to be looking to cast a vote for a credible candidate from the school, and there is no one better to choose than Manti Te’o.
Embrace the power of zero and let’s make a middle linebacker the Heisman Trophy winner.