NCAAF: Independents Preview

August 26, 2010


For the first time in quite awhile, there may be more than one independent team that could have a good season. Navy could be even better than the team that beat up Missouri in the Texas Bowl last season, and Notre Dame may finally be recovering from what was a rollercoaster ride to say the least during the Charlie Weis era. Even Army, who hasn’t had much to cheer about for quite awhile, may be witnessing forward progress in the program starting this year. Although no one from this group of teams will be fighting for a national championship bid, or probably even a BCS bid, it is worth noting that this season could be the start of a turnaround for what is left of the independent teams in college football.

Team(s) With the Best Shot at a National Championship Bid

Of the three independent teams, Navy is the most talented. However, due to their strength of schedule and the fact that they aren’t even in the preseason Top 25 rankings, it is pretty safe to assume that they will not make a run at the national title game. Sorry to all you Notre Dame fans as well, but this year is not the year that you guys will return to glory.

Watch Out! (Team That Could Surprise)

I’m not saying that I think they will play in a bowl game, because I don’t think that they will, but they do have a chance to have one of their better seasons in a long time. They should have a solid defense (which returns eight starters), and with a year of experience under his belt, sophomore quarterback Trent Steelman should be much improved. Navy and Notre Dame better watch out, because in a few years the Black Knights may be just as good as them.

Out-Of-Conference Game To Watch
Notre Dame vs. Stanford (September 25th)

Considering I picked Stanford to win the Pac-10, this is a pretty big game for Notre Dame in my opinion. Brian Kelly is much like Charlie Weis in that he is offensive minded, and considering Stanford’s shaky defense last year, this game could turn into a shootout. This game will be a true test for Notre Dame if they can survive the three middle-of-the-road Big Ten teams to start their season.

In-Conference Game To Watch
Navy vs. Notre Dame (October 23rd)

This rivalry used to be very one sided, until three years ago when Navy broke through for their first win against the Irish in 44 years. Now, this game is no longer a give-me game for Notre Dame, and this year, they probably won’t even be the favorites. Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs is a master at running the triple option, and if the last three years are any indication, Notre Dame will have trouble figuring out a way to stop it. Notre Dame could potentially have a lot of high scoring games this year, but this certainly won’t be one of them. Navy will almost undoubtedly control the pace of this game.

Team Predictions

1. Navy (10-2, with wins over Notre Dame and Army)
2. Notre Dame (7-6, with a win over Army)
3. Army (3-9)

This post effectively concludes my college football conference by conference preview. If you missed one of my previews and no longer see it on the page, there is an archive on the left hand side of the screen (below all the polls) with links to all my previews. If you have not yet voted on all the polls, then please take the time to do so. Tomorrow, I will officially conclude my college football preview with a short list of Heisman hopefuls, some of the things I think will happen throughout the season, and my pick on who will be holding up the crystal ball on January 10th. Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read even one of my previews or have voted on any of the polls.

– K. Becks

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