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It's so difficult to compare Charles Woodson to other Heisman winners specifically because his stats are mainly defensive.
But we can compare Woodson's stats to Te'o's, and we can also look at the level of Heisman competition in both 1997 and 2012.
Starting with the latter, it seems almost clear that Te'o is up against softer competition this season than Woodson faced in 1997. After all, there is no Peyton Manning-like SEC Champion quarterback ready to gobble up all the Southern first-place votes.
The SEC's contribution to the Heisman race this season is, instead, a freshman (yes, we'll get to that later).
So let's compare those stats.
Woodson had 42 tackles. Te'o has 103 (52 solo).
Woodson had four tackles for loss. Te'o has 5.5.
Woodson has seven interceptions. Te'o has seven.
Woodson had one sack. Te'o has 1.5.
From a purely defensive standpoint, Manti Te'o seems to have an edge on Woodson's 1997 season.
In fact, the only area in which we can find an advantage for Woodson is the fact that he accumulated stats on offense and special teams. And can you really take anything away from Te'o's 2012 performance because of the fact he's a linebacker in a linebacker's body? He's not built for returning punts, so he doesn't. What he does do is play exceptional defense—just like Woodson.