Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o turned in one of the most dominating performances of his career on Saturday in Notre Dame’s 13-6 win over Michigan and so far this week the Irish captain is getting recognized for it. Te’o was named both the Lott Impact Player of the Week and the Chuck Bednarik Player of the Week for his efforts.
Te’o was at his absolute best on Saturday night against rival Michigan picking up his second and third interceptions on the season while directly causing another pair of interceptions by Bennett Jackson and Nicky Baratti thanks to pressure applied to Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and running back Vincent Smith.
The Notre Dame defense, lef by Te’o shut down a Michigan offense that had terrorized the Irish defense over the past three season keeping them out of the end-zone – something the Notre Dame defense has now done in back to back games against ranked opponents.
Thanks for Te’o's Herculean performance, he picked up both player of the week honors and in the case of the Lott Award doing so for the second week in a row. All of this after Te’o went through the off-field tragedy of losing both his grandmother and girlfriend within a 24-hour period two weeks ago. Despite the losses, Te’o has remained with his team and turned in back to back performances that will have Irish fans talking for a long time.
Through four games, the Notre Dame defense, led by Te’o, has surrendered just 36 points – the fewest they have allowed through four games at the start of a season since 1976. Te’o's performance and leadership have also started to garner the Hawaiian native some Heisman buzz as well with both ESPN and Sports Illustrated listing the star linebacker among their top 10 candidates at this early juncture in the season.
So far this season, Te’o has collected 38 tackles (2 for loss), 3 interceptions, and 2 fumble recoveries – all of this after coming into the season without ever having recorded an interception in his career.