NCAA

Te'o not thinking about Heisman

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Te'o not thinking about Heisman

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o says if he wins the Heisman Trophy it would be a victory for all defensive players.

``It would definitely be a great step for all of us,'' he said.

Te'o would become just the second defensive player to capture the award, joining Michigan's cornerback Charles Woodson, who won in 1997. But Woodson also played some at wide receiver and returned punts. Te'o would be the first player who played defense only to win the award and the eighth Notre Dame player to win.

While being a defensive player makes winning the award a challenge, Te'o is the face of a defense that for much of the season carried the top-ranked Fighting Irish (12-0) and has Notre Dame on the brink of its first national championship since 1988.

He also has been the team's inspirational leader. Te'o had one of his best games of the season against Michigan State, just days after his girlfriend and grandmother died hours apart. He had 12 tackles, one for a loss, and broke up two passes in the win against Michigan State. A week later, on the day his girlfriend was buried, he had eight tackles and two interceptions against Michigan in a 13-6 win.

He finished the regular season with 103 tackles and seven interceptions - a school record for a linebacker. He said winning the Heisman would be an honor for his teammates as well.

``Without my team, I wouldn't be a Heisman candidate. If we weren't 12-0, I wouldn't be a Heisman candidate,'' he said.

He said he hasn't spent much time thinking about the Heisman, though, saying his focus this week has been on resting and thinking about his remaining time at Notre Dame before he graduates next month.

``All I'm thinking about is the time I have left here at school with my peers and my classmates. I'll be gone all next week so today was my last week of school. It was just hard for me to know it's come to an end, a beautiful end.''

Te'o said this season is proof that God answers prayers.

``If he didn't answer prayers I wouldn't be here,'' he said. ``I wouldn't have came here. I definitely wouldn't have come back for my senior year. I wouldn't have done a lot of things I've done in the past. Because I pray and because he does answer prayers is the reason I'm standing here today.''

Te'o was speaking at a news conference Thursday where he was presented with the Awards and Recognition Association's Sportsmanship Award. He will be traveling the nation next week for various award shows. He is a finalist for the Maxwell (best all-around player), Bednarik (defensive player of the year), Butkus (top linebacker) and Lott (defensive player having the biggest impact) awards.

Te'o said he has no idea what his schedule next week looks like.

``I just go where I'm told,'' he said.

Te'o said he'll watch the SEC championship game between No. 3 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama that will decide who will be Notre Dame's opponent in the BCS title game, but won't be rooting for either team. He said he's just excited to see who the Irish will play.

``I'll enjoy it as a fan and as a future opponent,'' Te'o said. ``Just watching them and how they work and tendencies. My main thing is finding out who we're going to play.''

Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

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Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.

RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-SABRES HERE

Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.