Preps Talk

No gimmicks for Te'o's Heisman candidacy

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No gimmicks for Te'o's Heisman candidacy

LOS ANGELES -- It's extremely rare for a defense-only player to contend for the Heisman Trophy, let alone win it. But Manti Te'o's 2012 season has put him squarely in the discussion for college football's most prestigious honor, despite only taking snaps on the defensive side of the ball.

"It never crossed my mind, but we have a lot people that have opinions on that. That won't happen," coach Brian Kelly laughed when asked if Te'o could play some offense to boost his chances. "He is going to play linebacker and that's it. If he can't win the Heisman at linebacker, then he can't win the Heisman."

Ndamukong Suh came closer than any other exclusively-defensive player to winning the Heisman in 2009, when the Nebraska defensive tackle finished fourth behind Mark Ingram, Toby Gerhart and Colt McCoy. Te'o, though, is as high as second in Heisman polling, generally stuck behind Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

It's tough to argue with Manziel's pure stats -- 3,073 passing yards, 1,114 rushing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, 17 rushing touchdowns -- but Te'o's candidacy has been boosted by his status as the leader of the nation's No. 1 scoring defense.

There was some momentum among Notre Dame players to get Te'o some touches on offense, though, to try to push him past Manziel. But Kelly, who's staying out on the West Coast to recruit after Saturday's game, won't let it happen.

"That was out there, and certainly it was played up a little bit with some players in our program that wanted to volunteer that position for Manti after hearing the rumors of it," Kelly said. "But at no time did I even give it I put that guy at running back and he gets hurt?  I'll be coming back from that recruiting trip. I won't get a chance to stay on the West Coast."

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 1 Whitney Young

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 1 Whitney Young

Whitney Young

2017-18 record: 28-8, 7-2 Public League Red-North/West

Postseason results: Lost to Belleville West in Class 4A state title game.

Players to watch: The junior backcourt of Fenwick transfer D.J. Steward and Tyler Beard is potentially the best in the state as both players are consensus top-75 national prospects. Senior Myles Baker is poised for a big season after some strong play last season. Other seniors like Justin Warren and Keenan Jones are great role players who have helped win plenty of games.

Why they're in the power rankings: After falling just short of back-to-back Class 4A championships last season, Whitney Young reloads to replace departed seniors like Javon Freeman and Xavier Castaneda. It's rare a high school team loses two Division I prospects and replenishes with a backcourt that could be better, but that's the case here with Whitney Young. The Dolphins have the upside to be the state's best team this season.

Did you know? Whitney Young has been a state final qualifier seven times -- including five times under current head coach Tyrone Slaughter. 

Bears-Vikings is most tightly contested game of Week 11

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USA TODAY

Bears-Vikings is most tightly contested game of Week 11

With so much parity in the NFL, every week on the schedule has close matchups. This weekend, though, the Bears and the Minnesota Vikings are expected to play the closest.

NFL experts trying to predict Sunday night’s matchup are torn on who they think is going to win, but Chicago has the slight advantage according to NFL Pick Watch.

55 percent of experts are picking the Bears to extend their NFC North lead, the closest margin of predictions for any game this week.

Even Monday night’s contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams has a larger majority supporting Jared Goff and company at 60 percent.

The analytics are also in agreement in support of Matt Nagy in prime time. Microsoft Cortana, FiveThirtyEight, Number Fire and Pro Football Focus analytics are all among the majority picking the Bears.

Our own J.J. Stankevitz predicts they could have statement game to establish themselves as a legitimate contender this season.

Chicago is favored by a slight margin on Las Vegas sportsbooks, but in the battle for first place in the division, anything can happen.