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Notre Dame looking to avoid the trap against BYU

SOUTH BEND IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Linebacker Manti Te'o #5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish returns second quarter interceptiagainst Michigan

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22: Linebacker Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish returns a second quarter interception against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: November 21, 2012 6:10AM



SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Manti Te’o has endured his share of disappointing defeats in his Notre Dame career. The kinds of losses that linger, that fester, that gnaw at him. His desire to avoid such a feeling is so great that he doesn’t think he’s even capable of looking past BYU to next week’s prime-time showdown at Oklahoma.

“There are guys who love to win, but for me, my hate to lose is greater than my love to win,” Te’o said. “I hate losing. That’s what drives me. … I’m going to try and do whatever I can to avoid walking out of any stadium with that feeling.”

A home game Saturday against BYU is the classic trap game.

The Irish are coming off an emotionally and physically draining 20-13 overtime victory over Stanford. Next week, they have their first true road game in six weeks, traveling to Oklahoma for a game with BCS and even national-championship implications.

BYU’s no Stanford. It’s also no Oklahoma. But with the nation’s fifth-ranked defense, and coming off a 42-24 loss to No. 10 Oregon State — a game that was tied through three quarters — the Cougars are no pushovers, either. So if Notre Dame has a letdown in the wake of last week’s game, or gets caught looking ahead to next week’s game, it could be a disaster.

But where Te’o goes, the Irish ­follow.

“I don’t know anything about Oklahoma, to be honest with you,” said Notre Dame tailback Cierre Wood, who’ll be going against a defense that ranks third nationally against the run, allowing 67.8 yards per game. “It’s all about BYU, that’s all our focus is on. That’s all we’ve been practicing for, and that’s all we care about at this point in time.”

The Irish are dealing with an uncertain quarterback situation, too. After suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter of the Stanford game, Everett Golson didn’t return to practice until Wednesday. And coach Brian Kelly said that his starting quarterback would be a “game-time decision,” saying Tommy Rees or even Andrew Hendrix could get the nod.

“I want to see Everett for 48 hours,” he said Thursday evening. “I don’t think there’s a cookie-cutter approach to concussions.”

So with an already shaky offense dealing with turmoil at quarterback and one of the country’s top run defenses, the Irish had better be focused on the here and now, or the there and then won’t be nearly as significant.

“Look to the North Carolina State-Florida State game; go to West Virginia vs. Texas Tech,” Kelly said, pointing to two of the season’s biggest upsets. “Why does that happen? Well, you forget how you got here. They are trap games if you forget how to go to work and do those things.”



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