The 2018 Independent Preview with the Game of the Year, Players of the Year, top pro prospects, big-time players who deserve a bigger spotlight, and more.
Preview 2018: Independents Preview
It’s a strange year for the world of the independents.
New Mexico State has been cast out of the Sun Belt for some strange reason, UMass would be stronger in the MAC, Army is destined to be a part of Conference USA, BYU is stuck in limbo as it doesn’t want to get back into the Mountain West, and new guy Liberty can’t buy its way into a conference.
And then there’s Notre Dame, who’s an ACC team masking as an independent.
How strange are things now for the land of misfit teams? New Mexico State is coming off a bowl season, and BYU isn’t. UMass has an offense, and BYU doesn’t.
Liberty and New Mexico State are playing each other – twice.
Army has two games against the Patriot League, going from November 3rd until December 8th without playing an FBS team.
BYU is doing everything possible to assure itself of an awful season with an unfair schedule, and Notre Dame has a schedule full of large names, but it might just be one of its most manageable slates in years.
The Irish have the running game again to be dangerous, but can they be consistent? Can the avoid the thuds of late last season? The talent is just okay, but the toughest road games are Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and USC – those are winnable.
BYU should have another good defense, but it’s going to be tough to get off the ground with its early schedule – more on that in a moment – to go along with a finishing kick with three of the four November games on the road.
Army will be everyone’s darling again, but it has to go on the first for four of its five six games, and UMass is away from Amherst in four of its first six dates, too. However, both teams have fantastic offenses – albeit in different ways.
With New Mexico State and Liberty each bringing interesting offenses and a whole lot of attitude, both of them will be entertaining.
Independent Team That Will Surprise
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
After the way the team clunked at times over the second half of the season, but came back in the bowl win, many will dismiss Notre Dame as an afterthought. This might not be one of the five best teams in the country, but the running game should rock, and the schedule is just manageable enough to come up with a huge season.
Independent Team That Will Disappoint
HOWEVER, if theres’s an offense, BYU could flip up into the Surprise category. If the O hasn’t made a big jump up, the first half of the season – with games against Arizona, Wisconsin and Washington on the road, and Cal at home – could be a disaster. There are dates at Boise State and Utah, too.