- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's time to hand out some last-minute hardware for those who stood out for Notre Dame in its 18-14 Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State. Since we're dealing with one team and not one conference, we'll limit it to sides of the ball and not position.
Offense: Tyler Eifert. The junior caught a game-high six passes for 90 yards, hurting the Seminoles over the middle time and time again. His performance was all the more important with Michael Floyd sidelined much of the second half after suffering an upper-body injury during his third-quarter touchdown catch.
Defense: Manti Te'o. Another junior who could have been playing in his final college game had he wanted to, the linebacker had a game-high 13 tackles and set up Notre Dame's first touchdown, forcing a fumble in the first quarter that Zeke Motta returned 29 yards for a touchdown.
Special teams: George Atkinson III. Ben Turk deserves an honorable mention for pinning FSU at its own 1 with a 49-yard punt with 5:02 to go, setting up a three-and-out and great field position for the Irish's last chance. Floyd deserves recognition for his 41-yard punt return in the first quarter. But Atkinson stood out on both sides, returning the second half's first kickoff 37 yards to set up Notre Dame's only touchdown drive. He tackled Lamarcus Joyner on the following kick, which Joyner returned 77 yards, setting up an FSU field goal.