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Thursday, December 29, 2011
Notre Dame helmet stickers: Champs Sports Bowl

By Matt Fortuna

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Here are the players who stood out in defeat, as Notre Dame closes it season with an 18-14 loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl to finish 8-5.

Manti Te'o: The junior could have improved his draft stock had he not already announced his intentions to come back. Te'o had a game-high 13 tackles and forced a fumble that Zeke Motta recovered and returned 29 yards for the lone score of the first half.

Michael Floyd: The senior who re-wrote the Irish record books impressed in his finale, making a ridiculous 5-yard touchdown grab and returning the game's first punt 41 yards, which was 38 yards more than the Irish had amassed on punt returns the entire season. A dropped deep ball and an upper body injury that forced him to sit out much of the second half does not dent the night he had. The game captain had five catches for 41 yards.

Tyler Eifert: The junior tight end still has not decided on his future yet, but if this was his last college game, he went out in style. Eifert caught a game-high six passes for 90 yards, repeatedly making Florida State pay over the middle.

Jamoris Slaughter: The hybrid linebacker/safety recorded a pair of sacks, which were two more than he had his entire career entering the game. He helped a pass rush that sacked E.J. Manuel five times and made life difficult for the Seminoles offense for three quarters.

Aaron Lynch/Stephon Tuitt: The freshmen ends were a force to be reckoned with all night, combining for eight tackles, three tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and four hurries.

George Atkinson III: The freshman return man had a 37-yard kick return to open the second half, setting up Notre Dame for its first and only touchdown drive. He then made a saving tackle on Lamarcus Joyner on the ensuing kick return, which went for 77 yards and set up an FSU field goal.