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One of the guys that the Irish will have back is junior linebacker Manti Te'o. He led Notre Dame with 13 tackles and a got in on one of the sacks. He said fatigue wasn't a factor in the Irish not being able to maintain pressure on Manuel in the fourth quarter.
Though they held Florida State's offense under its season average of 31 points, Te'o said he knows the players coming back weren't please, which is a welcomed sign for next season.
"We still allowed the opposing offense to put points on the board, and that' snot something we want to do, but we just have to keep good enough off of this year," he said. "... We'll start to get better as a team, not only as a defense because we're going to win or lose as a team. It doesn't matter, and we just have to stay together and just focus on the little things."
After some stagnant offense on both sides in the first half, Florida State trailed 14-0 early in the third quarter before finding some momentum through the air.
The Seminoles cut it to 14-9 on Manuel's 18-yard touchdown to Bert Reed to open the fourth quarter, but failed on the 2-point conversion attempt.
Florida State took the lead just 1:32 later after Nigel Bradham intercepted Hendrix's pass inside the Notre Dame 20 to set up Green's 18-yard touchdown reception. The Seminoles failed again on a 2-point try, leaving it 15-14.
The Seminoles added their second field goal of the game a series later.
Notre Dame had one final chance to win after a poor punt by the Seminoles and a facemask penalty on the return gave the Irish the ball on the Florida State 28 with 3:56 to play, but Rees' pass was picked off in the end zone with 2:48 left.
Florida State safety Terrance Brooks, who had the final interception, said belief in themselves is the biggest thing they will carry into next season.
"Just go out there and do it," he said. "You know you've got it in you. We went out there and read our keys and got the job done."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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