2012 Independents Preview, Prediction
Independents have combined for a 61-53 record over the last three years, including three wins to two losses in just five bowl appearances.
However, 2012 presents a big opportunity for them to flourish, as all four have the ability to reach the postseason. Here's a preview for the Independents with predictions.
BYU Cougars: 9-3
The Cougars would likely be playing for the Mountain West title this year, had they stayed instead fleeing to become an Independent. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has instilled a phenomenal defensive unit, led by linebacker Brandon Ogletree, that ranked 13th in the nation in yards allowed and 22nd in scoring. Most starters return, and if the offense can find success through the air, BYU could be looking at another 10-win season.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: 8-4
In 2-3 years, Notre Dame will be contending for the four-team playoff year-in and out. But for now, it'll continue living in mediocrity. Brian Kelly still hasn't been able to choose a quarterback, as all four are still in the running, including true freshman Gunner Kiel. The offensive line has problems, no one has stepped up to replace Michael Floyd, and the cornerbacks are all very timid and inexperienced. Add in the fact that the Irish have arguably the toughest schedule in America, and we could be looking at yet another seven- or eight-win year.
Navy Midshipmen: 7-5
After its first losing season since 2002, Navy will look to bounce back with some promising talent. Junior quarterback Trey Miller looks to be a lock to replace Kriss Proctor, and is possibly already better. He's faster, tougher and has a better arm—he just lacks the experience. If coach Kim Niumatalolo can figure out his offensive and defesive line issues during fall practice, the Midshipmen will be back in bowlmania.
Army Black Knights: 4-8
Army's 2011 campaign was a huge disappointment after finishing with a bowl win the year before. The passing game ranked dead last in all of college football, making the running game stagnant at times (along with the 22 combined fumbles). The defense struggled to stop the run and was physically outmatched most of the time. And nothing looks to change in 2012.
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