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Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Notre Dame Heisman Watch: Week 5

By Matt Fortuna

Yes, the Irish may have a real contender for sports' most coveted individual trophy. Now if the voters just turned their eyes toward the side that doesn't have the ball.

Manti Te'o, LB: I think we can say he is in the picture right now, after another emotionally charged performance against a school from Michigan. Te'o has drawn plenty of national attention the past two weeks for his strong play and the way he has handled tragedy, and his two interceptions of Denard Robinson on Saturday only bolster his case. He cracked my Heisman Watch this week at No. 5, and is playing as well as any defensive player in the country. He won the Lott IMPACT player of the week honor Monday for the second week in a row. Te'o is tied for first among linebackers in interceptions (3), with only three other defensive players having recorded more (4 apiece). He is tied for second overall in fumbles recovered (2) and is sixth among linebackers in passes defended (1.25 per game).

Stephon Tuitt, DE: Another sack for Tuitt ties him for third nationally with six. (Two players have 6.5.) He has been a dominant force up front for the Irish defense, which has 14 sacks and is tied for second nationally with 13 forced turnovers, only one fewer than all of last season.