Did Te'o open the door for Clowney in 2013?

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Did Te'o open the door for Clowney in 2013?

Manti Teo didnt win the Heisman Trophy this year, but he may have cracked the door open for a purely-defensive player to win college footballs most prestigious honor down the road.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has already received some way-too-early Heisman chatter for 2013 after finishing sixth in 2012. Clowney received four first-place votes and garnered 61 points, more than NIUs Jordan Lynch and Oregons Kenjon Barner.

The sophomores 13 sacks were tied for the most in the nation, and hell return to a strong South Carolina squad next year as hes ineligible for the NFL Draft until after his junior season. Hes regarded as the most dominant force on a defensive line in college football, and has already garnered significant national attention.

Perhaps Teos finish showed some unconvinced voters that its not a sin to vote for a defensive player.

MORE: Dr. Saturday: Will a defensive player ever win the Heisman? Well, what about next year?

Teo garnered more second-place votes than all but one Heisman runner-up, and only finished about 300 points behind a guy who set the SEC record for all-purpose yards in 2012. That seems like good news for Clowney, given the willingness to vote for Teo, who didnt play a lick of offense or special teams.

But Notre Dame went undefeated with a top-ranked defense. That had just as much to do with his Heisman Trophy candidacy than his on-field play -- which, interceptions aside, wasnt as statistically eye-popping as youd expect from a middle linebacker in the running for a Heisman.

Without my team, I wouldn't be a Heisman candidate, Teo said earlier. If we weren't 12 and 0, I wouldn't be a Heisman candidate. So without my team and their help, I wouldn't be going to New York.

Offensive players can put up monster numbers on teams with multiple losses (like Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III) and win the award. Defensive players, however dominant, dont have that luxury -- Hugh Greens Pittsburgh team went 11-1 in 1980 while Alex Karras Iowa squad went 7-1-1 in 1957, and theyre the only two other purely-defensive players to finish second -- so Clowneys chances hinge just as much on his on-field performance as South Carolinas record.

South Carolina avoids Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M in 2013 and draws Florida and Clemson at home. A road date against Georgia and a potential SEC title game look like the Gamecocks two biggest tests away from Columbia, but obviously plenty can change between now and next fall.

After Manziel was announced as the Heisman winner, plenty Teo supporters took to Twitter to argue that if Teo cant win the honor, no defensive player could. Teo built the strongest case a defensive player had for the Heisman in over three decades, maybe ever.

Itll be tough for Clowney to equal that. If he can, though, perhaps Teos 2012 finish will help Clowney in 2013.

Starters help White Sox bullpen maintain health for lengthy stretch

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Starters help White Sox bullpen maintain health for lengthy stretch

The White Sox are at another point in their schedule where every inning is precious.

So even though they only managed a split in Monday’s doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians, the White Sox have to feel good not to have taxed their bullpen.

Mat Latos and Erik Johnson combined for 12.1 innings pitched and five relievers combined for another 5.1 on Monday for the White Sox, who are in the midst of a stretch of 17 games in 16 days. Given they have Chris Sale and Jose Quintana scheduled the next two games, the White Sox feel pretty fortunate at the midway point of their lengthy run.

“We didn’t really abuse anybody,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “These doubleheaders can kind of get away from you and both sides probably had that. You get out of these things without having to use anybody in both games and extending anybody.”

With the way things had recently gone for Latos and Johnson’s command issues in his last start, Monday’s doubleheader could have been trouble for the White Sox bullpen.

Latos hadn’t completed six innings since April 24 and posted a 7.84 ERA in his last four starts. And in his only major league start this season, Johnson allowed four earned runs in five innings against the Boston Red Sox on May 5.

Not only do the White Sox have two more here against the Indians, they start a four-game series in Kansas City on Thursday and then head to Citi Field for three against the New York Mets. Only then do they have another day off.

Johnson made two early mistakes, but mostly followed in the footsteps of Latos, who delivered six innings in the opening game before he departed with a 6-3 lead courtesy of a three-run homer by Brett Lawrie.

While Johnson left a 3-0 fastball up to Rajai Davis and he ripped it for a two-run homer, which put Cleveland up 3-1 in the fifth, he faced only five over the minimum through six innings.

“EJ did a good job for us, we just weren’t really getting anything going,” Ventura said.

Johnson — who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after the start — entered the seventh inning at 93 pitches. With his team trailing by two, Ventura hoped to steal another inning from his right-hander. The Indians took advantage as Juan Uribe homered and scored another run off the combination of Johnson and reliever Matt Purke, who allowed a hit in 2.1 scoreless innings.

“You want to help the team out and save the bullpen as best you can, especially on these nine and nines,” Johnson said. “That’s your job as a starter for a regular nine inning game, whether it’s a doubleheader or not.

“I’m thankful for the opportunities and if they keep coming I’m going to keep coming back here.”

For now, the opportunity belongs to reliever Tommy Kahnle, whom was added as the 26th man before the doubleheader. By optioning Johnson to Charlotte, the White Sox will employ an eight-man bullpen.

Preview: Chris Sale targets 10th win as White Sox battle Indians on CSN+

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Preview: Chris Sale targets 10th win as White Sox battle Indians on CSN+

The White Sox continue their series with the Cleveland Indians tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet Plus. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (9-0, 1.58 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (6-0, 3.56 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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Preview: Cubs look to snap losing streak vs. Cardinals on CSN

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Preview: Cubs look to snap losing streak vs. Cardinals on CSN

The Cubs look to snap a three-game losing streak against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jason Hammel (5-1, 2.31 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (2-4, 4.03 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.