HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Punahou graduate and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o may lead the top-ranked college football team in the country, but the senior from La'ie appears to be second in line for the sport's most coveted individual award, according to a survey released by USA Today on Monday.
Despite adding another interception to his season total during Saturday's win over the University of Southern California, Te'o trails Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel in the survey of its 37 official Heisman voters.
The Fighting Irish punched their ticket to the National Championship game in Miami on Saturday, when they notched a 22-13 win over Trojans. Te'o tallied just 5 tackles in the game, but turned in a pair of impact plays many thought qould improve his Heisman chances.
In the third quarter of the game, Te'o intercepted red-shirt freshman quarterback Max Wittek, who filled in for the injured Matt Barkley, for his seventh of the season, tops amongst linebackers in the NCAA.
Then, with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, USC running back Silas Redd appeared to have a lane to the endzone on first and goal from four yards out, but was stopped cold in a collision with Te'o that sent Redd backwards. In all, the Trojans failed to score on their six plays near the goal line on that drive. It was one of two goal line stands in the fourth quarter that Te'o spearheaded.
Manziel, meanwhile, made his own push for the Heisman on Saturday, throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns while running for two more scores as No. 9 Texas A&M beat Missouri 59-29.
The finalists for the Heisman Trophy will be announced on December 3. The winner will be revealed on December 8 in New York.