The sophomore from Laie, Hawaii, had just recorded a career-high 21 tackles in a 37-14 deflating courtesy of No. 16 Stanford, Saturday at
It was the most tackles by an Irish player since safety Chinedum Ndukwe collected 22 in a win at Air Force four seasons ago. Clearly, Te’o took no solace in his personal quantum leap forward.
“It doesn’t matter if you have 100 tackles,” Te’o said. “If you don’t win the game, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Notre Dame’s defense held the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense to 19 points until midway through the fourth quarter, and Te’o was a big reason.
“He played with a will today,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said of his 6-foot-2, 245-pound middle linebacker.
“He had a look on his face, a toughness to him that he hasn't displayed since he's been a player here at Notre Dame. Today is one of those watershed moments for a defensive player that we can model.”