Out of the five Independent Football Teams in Division 1, only two get any respect. At least the two teams that do get respect, Notre Dame and BYU, get a lot of it.
Both teams figure to be extremely difficult to handle in the 2014-2015 College Football Season. Extensive write-ups on both squads are below. We also take a look at the other two independents and their chances at gridiron success this season.
FBS Independents Preview
1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – We went back and forth for a while deciding who to make the number one team out of the Independents. We settled on Notre Dame because even though there is currently an investigation into academic misconduct with four of the team’s players, QB Everett Golson returns. Golson has been announced as the starting QB against Rice. He’s going to be a huge boost to Notre Dame’s chances at securing a bid in the College Football Playoffs.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 18, 2014
Notre Dame has a ridiculously brutal schedule. They face Michigan, Stanford and North Carolina at home before battling Florida State, Arizona State and USC on the road. The good news is that if Notre Dame finishes the season with only 2 losses, it’s going to be very hard to keep them out of a major bowl game on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. If Notre Dame happens to finish the season with only one loss, and that loss didn’t occur to Florida State on the road, then Notre Dame should garner one of the four playoff bids. Will that happen? It’s not likely, but this is a quality team with one of the best coaches in college football in Brian Kelly.
2. BYU Cougars – BYU’s schedule is a bit safer than Notre Dame’s. That’s why they’re picked to finish second because the strength of schedule is likely to keep BYU out of a major college bowl game and it will definitely keep the Cougars out of the College Football Playoffs. Even if BYU manages to beat Texas, UCF and Boise State on the road, they have to hope that Texas turns into a Big 12 juggernaut and UCF and Boise State go undefeated in their respective conferences.
— BYU Cougars (@BYUCougars) August 17, 2014
That’s not likely to happen. The Cougars should dominate in almost every single game in which they play, but there will be some sneaky games outside of Texas, UCF and Boise State. Utah State is no slouch and Houston could surprise the Cougars as well.
3. Navy Midshipmen – Outside of their first game of the season against Ohio State, Navy doesn’t really play a lot of teams that will get them to turn the Selection Committee’s heads. Yes, Notre Dame is on the schedule but so is Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern, VMI and South Alabama. The most exciting game for the Midshipmen will be their battle against Army, like it is every season. Navy should garner a decent bowl game bid since they will only lose 2 games during the regular season.
4. Army Black Knights – Once thing that we can say about Army is that they’ve got that wish bone attack down. The Black Knights averaged over 309 rushing yards per game last season. That ranked Army third in the rushing category in all of Division 1 football.
But, alas, the rushing stats occurred versus the soft teams in 2013, meaning that its impressiveness is open for debate. Army is only expected to win 4 games this season, but they could upset Ball State, Wake Forest, Kent State, Western Kentucky and Connecticut. That would give the Black Knights a 9 game winning season. Not bad for a school with tougher requirements than Duke.