Te'o discovers why Notre Dame was the right choice

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Te'o discovers why Notre Dame was the right choice

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Growing up an avid USC fan, Manti Te'o had dreamed of one day playing for the Trojans. But when it came down to making a final decision, the linebacker out of Laie, Hawaii chose Notre Dame for reasons he could never quite put his finger on. He just knew that this team and this school felt right.

But he felt Notre Dame's 13-6 win over No. 18 Michigan Saturday was a fitting example why.

It's been nearly three weeks since Te'o lost his grandmother to a long illness and his girlfriend to an ongoing battle with leukemia. But despite the tragic loss, the senior linebacker hasn't missed a beat, displaying his strength, passion and commitment to his his team and the place he's called home.

"Four years ago when I decided to come here, I didn't know why. It's starting to unveil itself why, why I felt that I was told to come here. I can't thank my team enough. I can't thank the students and just the fan base around the world, Notre Dame and non-Notre Dame fans. They've been really great," an emotional Te'o said.

Fans wore Hawaiian leis around their necks and broke out into a booming cheer for Te'o after the game, creating a moment on the field that exuded the support and compassion the Notre Dame faithful have for him.

"You know, it's just very humbling for me and my family," Te'o added. "And I appreciate all the love and support that my family and my girlfriend's family has been getting."

Te'o played a key role in Notre Dame's first victory over Michigan since 2008, recording eight tackles, intercepting two passes and putting constant pressure on Denard Robinson, who threw four picks and fumbled once.

But when it comes to coach Brian Kelly's level of respect for him, it isn't just about the numbers.

"He's the guy in there. I mean, it all revolves around him, his personality, his strength. He's a special guy. Take advantage of him while you've got him now, because I've never been around a kid like that."

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

Antti Raanta stopped all 26 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season and Nick Holden netted the winner as the New York Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime on Friday night.

The Blackhawks, playing without Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford, are now 1-2-1 in their last four games. Nevertheless, they remain atop the Western Conference with 38 points.

Scott Darling stopped 36 of 37 shots in the loss.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Two seasons ago Darling and Raanta battled for the Blackhawks’ backup spot. Friday marked their first head-to-head matchup, and it was stellar.

The Blackhawks thought they broke the scoreless tie six minutes into the third period, when Marian Hossa got one past Raanta. But the Rangers challenged for offside and officials agreed, nullifying the goal.

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

The 2017 Winter Classic featuring the Blackhawks and Blues is right around the corner.

Players from both sides already squared off in a game of NHL 17 to generate some hype into the game, but nothing compares to behind-the-scenes footage of the two teams leading up to it.

Beginning Dec. 16 at 9 p.m., EPIX will air a one-hour episode each week that provides an all-access look inside the lives of the Blackhawks and Blues, on and off the ice.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The game will be on Jan. 2 at 12 p.m. on NBC, with the final episode airing Friday, Jan. 6.

Here's a two-minute preview involving the Blackhawks, who are labeled "A Good Bunch of Guys."