Te'o's Heisman chances could hinge on performance at OU

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Te'o's Heisman chances could hinge on performance at OU

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A month ago, Manti Teo began receiving some Heisman support after he emotionally led Notre Dame to a 13-6 win over Michigan. But that support was generally qualified with well, hes a linebacker, and defensive players dont win the Heisman Trophy. With a slew of quarterbacks racking up eye-popping stats, it didnt look like Teo had a realistic chance.

But theres been plenty of attrition among the early-season Heisman hopefuls and all of sudden, Teos rocketed to the top of the discussion. In HeismanPunditCBS Sports latest straw poll, Teo is No. 2 but well behind Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. ESPNs Heisman Watch has Klein and Teo at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, with Klein holding a similarly commanding lead.

If Kansas State runs the table -- which, if the Wildcats get by Texas Tech this weekend, they just might do -- itll be tough for anyone to top Klein, whos putting up Tim Tebow-like numbers in Manhattan.

But Notre Dames defense hasnt faltered, pacing the Irish to seven wins in seven games. Despite giving up a touchdown for the first time in 17 quarters against BYU on Saturday, Notre Dames still only one of two teams in the country averaging fewer than 10 points allowed (the other, of course, is Alabama).

Those defensive numbers -- and, by extension, Teos Heisman hopes -- will be put to the test this weekend against an Oklahoma offense thats racked up 156 points in its last three games. With the game nationally-televised in prime time, Teo has a chance to make his case with voters from coast to coast.

Teos stats are obviously part of the Heisman equation, but even if he only gets, say, five tackles, if Notre Dame shuts down OUs offense Teos chances will be boosted given hes regarded as the emotional leader of the Irish defense.

The guy is all over the field, and continues -- and I mean all over the field, pass coverage, breaking on the ball, setting our defense up, coach Brian Kelly gushed after Notre Dames win over BYU. It's not going to change. It's only going to continue to be the same kind of performance weekin and weekout, because he's so well prepared. Just glad he's on our team.

Its not like Teo has much competition among fellow defenders who are Heisman candidates -- a defensive player has only been invited to New York three times in the last 15 years, and two of those guys (Charles Woodson and Tyrann Mathieu -- Ndamukong Suh is the other) had impact on special teams.

Needless to say, if Teo were to go to New York as a Heisman finalist, itd be a rare occurrence. But with Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest following Oklahoma, Teos candidacy could gain plenty of steam leading up to Notre Dames season-ending date with USC in Los Angeles. With that much momentum, chances are Teo would be a finalist for the award no matter what happens at USC.

But for that momentum to materialize, Teo and Notre Dames defense will have to stop Oklahoma first.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do Blackhawks need to make a trade now?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do Blackhawks need to make a trade now?

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Laurence Holmes (670 The Score), George Ofman (WBBM Newsradio 780/105.9) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel.

Jimmy Butler says he doesn’t care about the All-Star Game right now. That can't be true, right?

Jonathan Toews is slumping. Do the Blackhawks need to make a trade to get the captain going?

Also, the guys discuss whether Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live broadcast will distract the Steelers and motivate the Patriots.

Plus, a Hawk Harrelson alarm clock??? You gotta be… bleepin’ me!

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below.

Bulls' Taj Gibson a late scratch with ankle injury vs. Mavericks

Bulls' Taj Gibson a late scratch with ankle injury vs. Mavericks

Just when you think the Bulls are back at full strength for one of the few times this season and able to hit the reset button halfway through the year, someone goes down with an injury.

Taj Gibson will miss Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks with a left ankle injury that he apparently suffered Sunday night in the Bulls’ win against Memphis.

This comes on the day Nikola Mirotic has recovered from his strep throat and apparently the flu bug that made its way through the locker room has finally run its course.

Paul Zipser, the Bulls’ rookie second-round pick, will start in Gibson’s place. Zipser has played in 12 games so far, starting in two of them.

"It's something that kind of popped up,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I don't know exactly the time. He did have a little bit of soreness in the game. Again, it's not to the point where you're saying this is something that holds him out a while.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Gibson did have ankle surgery on his left ankle in June 2015, but he’s been an iron man this year, starting every game to this point and averaging 12 points with 7.3 rebounds.

Hoiberg said he’s not sure if Gibson will need an MRI or if this injury is somehow related to the ankle surgery that cost Gibson several months in the 2015 offseason.

It seems Hoiberg will start off with Zipser and then use Mirotic and Bobby Portis as reserves against the Mavericks team that gave the Bulls a 25-point whipping in Dallas on Dec. 3, their second-worst loss of the year.

“Again, we hope to sit him tonight, have a couple days off to rest and get him back in the lineup in the next one,” Hoiberg said. “We felt it was best to hold him out tonight."