With only one defensive winner in Heisman history, Manti Te’o finds himself in elite company. Very rarely do defensive players even earn a nod in the Heisman Top Five, with it last happening in 2009 with Ndamukong Suh finishing fourth in votes.
Te’o has a great opportunity to increase his Heisman stock this weekend against Boston College in front of an ABC viewing audience in primetime. He needs it after the Irish struggled against Pitt. A major part of the Heisman race is exposure and Te’o gets a lot weekly on NBC, but a night game on ABC is premium football programming.
It has been a great season for the Irish linebacker as he has finished six games with 10 or more tackles. This past weekend against Pitt he only accounted for seven stops and he failed to increase his interceptions total.
Te’o needs another explosive game this week to keep his name in the front of Heisman voter’s minds.
The good news for the Notre Dame defense and Te’o is that this Boston College team loves to throw the football. Chase Rettig has thrown for 2,556 yards and 16 touchdowns this year, but he has also tossed eight interceptions.
Rettig threw three picks against Wake Forest this past Saturday.
The Golden Eagles quarterback is averaging 38.7 passing attempts per game through nine contests this year. If Rettig puts the ball in the air that much against Te’o it should spell disaster.
Boston College is not hot on offense, ranking as the No. 85 rushing attack in the country making matters worse for the Golden Eagles. It’s clear that this team is one dimensional and that will aid in Te’o’s dominant performance this weekend.
The Fighting Irish linebacker is leading the country at his position with interceptions and should be able to snag at least one more in this game. Add to that an increased tackle total and Te’o is right back in the front of the Heisman discussion.
USC is the final test on the Notre Dame schedule this season and it will be a tough win in Los Angeles. Te’o will be a focus in that game, but a moderate performance against the talented skill players for the Trojans is somewhat expected.
For that very reason, this coming game against Boston College is crucial to his Heisman candidacy. Expect another 10-plus tackle performance and an interception or two to come from Te’o this week.
This will be a huge opportunity for him to solidify a place in New York in December.