Heisman Trophy 2012: Notre Dame's Manti Te'o has Brian Kelly's vote

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Irish head coach Brian Kelly believes his star linebacker is worthy of the Heisman.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the USC Trojans 22-13 on Saturday, finishing off an undefeated regular season and securing a spot in the 2013 BCS National Championship game. Afterward, Irish head coach Brian Kelly said he felt linebacker Manti Te'o deserves to win the Heisman Trophy.

"If a guy like Manti Te'o is not going to win the Heisman, they should just make it an offensive award," Kelly said. "Just give it to the offensive player every year, and let's just cut to the chase. He is the backbone of a 12-0 football team that has proven itself each and every week."

Te'o leads Notre Dame with 103 tackles and seven interceptions -- that interception total ranks second nationally. Behind his performance, Notre Dame's defense has been one of the nation's best. The Irish rank sixth in total defense and they are giving up just 10.3 points per game. Only one Notre Dame opponent scored more than 17 points in a game during the regular season, and five were held to six points or fewer.

The Irish will play the winner of the SEC title game for the BCS National Championship.

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