Flutie backs Te'o's 'longshot' Heisman candidacy

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Flutie backs Te'o's 'longshot' Heisman candidacy

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Doug Flutie knows the Heisman Trophy usually winds up in the hands of whatever quarterback puts up eye-popping numbers on a successful team. He won the award in 1984, leading Boston College to a 10-2 record with 3,454 yards and 27 touchdowns.

With that in mind, Manti Te'o's chances of winning the Heisman are slim -- not while West Virginia's Geno Smith, Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Kansas State's Collin Klein are topping the polls. But that doesn't mean Te'o isn't a deserving candidate in the eyes of a former winner.

"From a Heisman standpoint, I think he deserves to be in the conversation," Flutie, now an analyst on NBC Sports' college football studio show, told CSNChicago.com on Saturday. "He may, if he continues to play the way he has, end up with a trip to New York. I really doubt -- it's just such a longshot for a defensive player to win it, (Charles) Woodson's the only one. It's tough because it's not glamorous, it's not flashy, you don't have the numbers to put up against everyone else."

Flutie's point about Te'o at least getting a trip to New York for the ceremony may be the Irish linebacker's best bet at recognition. Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the last defensive player (who didn't make an impact on special teams, as LSU's Tyrann Mathieu did last year) to be named a finalist and head to New York, with that being in 2009 (Alabama RB Mark Ingram win the Heisman that year). Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk finished sixth in 2005, as did Miami's Warren Sapp in 1994, and FSU linebacker Marvin Jones was fourth in 1992.

Fellow NBC analyst and former wide receiver Hines Ward, though, pointed out that Notre Dame's defense is right up there with Alabama -- which probably will be No. 1 when the first BCS standings are released Sunday -- and Te'o is at the heart of it.

"He's an impact player. He's somebody that offensive coordinators, they spotlight him," Ward explained. "You gotta know where he's at at all times. He has to be held accountable because he will create havoc on that field either by pressuring the quarterback or get some turnovers. I think if anything, he's the emotional leader of that defense. I think everybody thrives off him."

As long as Notre Dame's defense continues its run of success -- the Irish haven't allowed a touchdown since Sept. 8 - -Te'o will continue to get Heisman recognition. Enough to win the award? Probably not. Neither Flutie nor Ward would go that far, and the same can be said for most everyone outside of the campus at Notre Dame.

But a trip to the Heisman ceremony would still be a special accomplishment for a defensive player, one that's a rarity in college football.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling gets the nod.

Joel Quenneville is giving a struggling Corey Crawford a breather tonight, electing to go with Darling in the final game of the father's road trip. Darling is 11-4-2 with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season. His numbers aren't as great on the road, where he is 4-2-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage compared to a 7-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage at home, but he fared well against Boston last season. The Lemont native stopped 42 of 46 shots, good for a .913 save percentage, in a 6-4 win at the United Center last April.

2. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line.

The Blackhawks' trio of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had a rare zero points in Tuesday's 6-4 win over Colorado, but don't expect to see that again. In fact, it could be the opposite. In their last meeting against the Bruins, a 6-4 win on April 3 during the 2015-16 season, they combined for 11 points (five goals, six assists), highlighted by a Kane hat trick that put him at 100 points on the season for the first time in his career. 

3. How the rookies build off a monsterous game.

In arguably the most well-rounded victory of the season Tuesday in Colorado, the Blackhawks had three rookies that had multi-point efforts. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals, including the game winner. Tanner Kero had two goals and one assist, while Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. It was the top-six that was doing the heavy lifting earlier in the season, now the bottom-six is slowly starting to contribute on a consistent basis. The Blackhawks will be in great shape if they can confidently roll four lines that have the potential to find the back of the net on any given shift.

4. Patrice Bergeron vs. Jonathan Toews.

Two of the best two-way centers in the league will go head-to-head, and it's always a fun matchup to watch. Bergeron leads the league with 597 faceoff wins, and is ranked fifth with a 58.4 percentage at the dot while Toews ranks eighth in wins with 473 — despite missing nine games with a back injury — and sits at sixth with a 57.5 percentage. Both of the perennial Selke Trophy candidates have struggled offensively this season, with Bergeron recording only 21 points in 45 games and Toews with 22 points in 38 contests. Bergeron has been heating up as of late, though, scoring three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Bergeron also leads the league in possession numbers, with the Bruins controlling 61.9 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when he's on the ice.

5. Brad Marchand.

In September, Marchand inked an eight-year, $49 million deal and it's already paying dividends for the Bruins. He has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games, and 45 points total, which is by far the most on his team and tied for sixth in the NHL. He's 16 points away from tying his career high of 61 set last season, with a little less than half the year to go. He's also had great success against the Blackhawks. In his last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, he has registered at least a point in all of them, scoring four goals and adding five assists. To make life more difficult, he's a player that enjoys getting under people's skin, so expect him to be a big factor tonight.

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