Marcus Mariota is still watching Te'o, though he wishes he would be able to see him through his helmet, scrambling from the linebacker's grasp under the Miami sky and national title lights on Jan. 7.
This won't happen, of course. While Te'o and the Irish awoke from Notre Dame's two-decade-long slumber to post a 12-0 season and a title-game berth, Oregon was on the same path before Stanford thwarted a previously unflappable Ducks offense. Oregon and Kansas State, both 11-1, play for the almost-championship in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday.
Had Oregon and Notre Dame finished No. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings, the strength of Hawaii football would have been lightning on a championship night. That's the vision that Mariota's mom, Alana Deppe-Mariota, has about the narrowly missed chance. She has reminded the Ducks quarterback of this a few times, a painful reminder from which Mariota has tried to slowly move on.