Te'o thrilled to play for national championship

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Te'o thrilled to play for national championship

LOS ANGELES -- Through Notre Dame's 12-0 run, Manti Te'o's been more than the team's defensive leader on the field; more than a Heisman candidate; more than one of the team's record holders.

He's been the face of the resurgence of a storied football program that has accomplished things the right way, and tonight was no exception.

Te'o kicked off the evening running to shake the hand of injured USC quarterback Matt Barkley and congratulate him on his successes prior to the start of Saturday's game at the Coliseum.

From that moment on, it was another night of making history for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish earned a trip to the BCS Championship in Florida.

"It's a blessing," Te'o said after exiting the team's locker room celebration. "I can't believe it and I'm just really happy."

Te'o's performance Saturday only added to his legend at Notre Dame. Although the first half of Saturday's matchup was dominated by Notre Dame's offense, Te'o entered the second half with strength and determination, never slowing down as time on the clock continued to wind down.

He recorded his 100th tackle this year, joining Bob Crable as just the second Notre Dame player to record 100 or more in three straight seasons. His seventh interception is now the most by any FBS linebacker since 2000.

But despite his own personal statistics, Te'o's focus remains on the team as a whole and their final game of the season.

"I wanted to go to the National Championship, and now I am," Te'o said. "If I win the Heisman Trophy, that's going to be great and it's going to be a great honor for my family, but if I don't, I'm just glad we're going to Miami.

"Our team had a dream and we put in the work to make sure that the dream comes true. Now we have to go to work and prepare ourselves for the National Championship."

But when it comes to getting the recognition he deserves, the Notre Dame brass believes Te'o has everything it takes to win the Heisman.

"If a guy like Manti Te'o's not going to win the Heisman, they should just make it an offensive award," coach Brian Kelly said. "Just give it to the offensive player every year and let's just cut to the chase. He is the backbone of a 12-0 football team that has proven itself each and every week. He's showed it tonight with another key interception and a great play in the end zone on Marqise Lee to save another touchdown.

"If the Heisman Trophy is what it is, I don't know how Manti Te'o is left out of that conversation."

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick agreed:

"I can't find somebody who matches a leading player, a leader of a team who matches the values of the team he represents as well as Manti Te'o. He is the perfect guy to lead the resurrection of this program."

White Sox offense can't stay hot in loss to A's

White Sox offense can't stay hot in loss to A's

A day after having quite the offensive party, the White Sox didn’t save any production for Friday.

The White Sox couldn’t muster any offense in a 3-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics in their series opener at Guaranteed Rate Field in front of 25,370 fans.

After recording 18 hits in Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, the White Sox were held to just seven on Friday, but it felt like fewer. They went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

Mike Pelfrey, who fell to 3-6 on the season, took a step back after delivering a strong performance in his last outing against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old struggled with his command against the A’s all night. He pitched 4 2/3 innings and issued five walks. Pelfrey also allowed all three runs on four hits and two homers.

The A’s got on the board early with a two-run shot to center field by Khris Davis. In the fifth, Pelfrey allowed another homer, a solo shot, to Matt Joyce to make it 3-0.

The White Sox bullpen staved off any further production and combined for 4 1/3 shutout innings between four relievers. But they weren’t able to generate any of their own.

Not even ejections from Tim Anderson and Rick Renteria could spark a cold offense.

The White Sox best chance came in the bottom of the ninth, where Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu opened with back-to-back singles. After an Avisail Garcia flyout, Todd Frazier popped one over A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso, but Abreu was thrown out at second. Matt Davidson flew out to center field at the warning track to end the game.

Friday marked the start of a season-long 10-game homestand, somewhere the White Sox were happy to be after playing 15 of their last 19 on the road.

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Together again: Toews, Saad expect chemistry to return quickly

Brandon Saad talked to plenty of people after he was traded back to the Blackhawks. Some were now ex-teammates from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Others, soon-to-be-teammates again from the Blackhawks.

One of the first people he talked to on Friday? Jonathan Toews.

“He’s someone I talked to shortly after it happened. He’s a guy I’ve always kept in touch with, great friend,” Saad said. “To be reunited, getting that chance to play with him again, he’s an incredible player and his resume speaks for itself. I look forward to trying to rekindle that.”

The two didn’t lose touch the past two years. Now that they’ll be reunited on the ice, they hope they didn’t lose the chemistry either. Saad and Toews formed a great combination a few years ago, a steadiness that’s been missing from the top line, especially at left wing, ever since. With Saad’s return, however, the Blackhawks are looking to get that top line consistent again.

[MORE: Blackhawks trade back, select Henri Jokiharju at No. 29

Toews was at the NHL Draft on Friday night, announcing the Blackhawks’ first-round pick with Patrick Kane. The thought of getting Saad back on his left wing was appealing.

“Well there’s no doubt getting an old teammate, an old friend back, another guy who shared that same bond, friendship and having the experience of winning a Cup together with Saader. I guess there’s some reconciliation because you know what you’re getting,” Toews said. “You know what type of guy he is and how he’s going to fit into the locker room and what he’s going to bring.”

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said via conference call today that, while Toews and Saad had great chemistry the first time around, Saad could fit with others. It all depends on what works best.

“That’s up to Joel [Quenneville] on where he wants to use him,” Bowman said. “No doubt they had tremendous chemistry; he found a home on Jonathan’s left wing. But the one thing I’m trying to stress to everyone, even internally, is we don’t want to look backward and replicate some old formula. He’s had great success with Jonathan and if they go back to that, great.”

Toews and Saad found their niche together pretty quickly the first time around. It’s only been two years since Saad departed, so finding that chemistry again shouldn’t take long at all.

“I don’t think so,” Toews said of chemistry taking long to rekindle. “You play at that caliber you just worry about your own game. Go out there and have fun. be prepared, be ready to roll and it shouldn’t take long for things to happen out there.”