Tradition, History, Integrity and Pride are all words that have embodied what the University of Notre Dame has stood for, for decades. In recent memory, they have lost some of their luster, but the foundation on which those ideals were built remains intact. In their quest to, once again, emerge atop the college football hierarchy, the next obstacle in their path was a team rebuilding with a former Heisman candidate manning the helm.
It definitely wasn't pretty. Judging by performance, neither team should have walked out of Notre Dame Stadium with a victory. However, the golden helmets of the University of Notre Dame came away unscathed, and rather lucky, as they defeated the University of Michigan on September 22, in a 13-6 game that was far from an ideal performance.
In a meeting that featured an intense and vastly dominating Irish defense, the Wolverines' offense was left scrambling for each and every yard they could muster. The Irish, led by linebacker Manti Te'o, stifled the Michigan offense, leading to five interceptions and a fumble recovery. Two of those interceptions would, ultimately, be snagged by Te'o, who single-handedly devastated the Wolverines' with an additional 8 tackles, one of which was for a loss.
In the aftermath of the devastating losses of both his grandmother and girlfriend, a situation in which most men would have, understandably, crumbled, Te'o excelled, having two of the best games of his career. Both victories, against Michigan and Michigan State, were captured due, in part, to his ability to step up and assert his will against both of the "Mitten State's" marquee universities. With 20 tackles, two for loss, and two interceptions against two of the Big Ten's upper-echelon teams, the remaining opponents on the Notre Dame schedule need to take notice.
What began with Te'o, however, didn't end there, as the Irish defense pummeled the Michigan offense and held quarterback Denard Robinson to fewer than 250 combined offensive yards. Bennet Jackson added an additional nine touchdowns, a fumble recovery and an interception, intensifying the dominance over the Wolverines. Nicky Baratti also contributed with an end zone interception.
Sitting with a perfect 4-0 start to the 2012 campaign, Notre Dame still has a long way to go as it attempts to reassert itself as a perennial force in college football. With players the caliber of Te'o and the guts, integrity and intensity he personifies on the field of play, their potential return to glory is one step closer to fruition.
The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on the Detroit Tigers , Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.