The list of independents has grown with the disappearing act done by the WAC. Idaho, New Mexico State and FBS newcomer Old Dominion join the Irish, Air Force, Army and BYU this season. This is a group of extremes to be sure when it comes to wins and losses.
Army 4.5 (+110 over/-140 under) – The Black Knights enter 2013 off of a disappointing 2-10 record but should improve upon that this season. As is typically the case, Army ranked number one in the nation in rushing and dead last in passing. It’s no secret what they like to do offensively. The defense must be better though. They gave up over 35 points per game in 2012. The Knights play at Hawaii, Ball State and Air Force and get Stanford and Wake Forest at home. It isn’t a difficult schedule but I still see the under.
BYU 8 (+120 over/-150 under) -The Cougars were 8-5 last year but went 0-3 against top 25 opponents. The defense was outstanding ranking third in the country with just 14 points per game. The offense is a far cry from the days of Ty Detmer and Steve Young. It ranked middle of the road in both rushing and passing. The schedule is not easy. They have road games at Virginia, Wisconsin and Notre Dame and also play Boise State, Texas and Georgia Tech at home. I have to take the under here.
Idaho 1.5 (+125 over/-155 under) – The 1-11 Vandals are just not that good to be honest. They ranked almost dead last in points for, points against and rushing yards. Now they enter the independent type of schedule that will not be easy. They have seven road games which include Florida State, Ole Miss, Arkansas State and Wyoming. The home schedule features Fresno State and MAC champion Northern Illinois. I see only three winnable games here and that leads me to think the under is the right play.
Navy 6.5 (-140 over/+110 under) – Much like their rivals the Army Black Knights, the Midshipmen were one of the top teams in rushing and one of the bottom teams in passing. Their defense was significantly better though and thus the 8-5 record. This season Navy has key road games at Indiana (who they had a thriller with last year), Notre Dame (who beat them by 40) and San Jose State. The home portion will include tough ones with Air Force and Pitt. I like the Academy for another seven or eight win season.
New Mexico State 2.5 (-120 over/-120 under) – The 1-11 Aggies struggled mightily last year ranking near the bottom in rushing, points for and points against. That combination will get you absolutely nowhere. In the first four weeks, NMSU has road games at Texas and at UCLA and they must also go to rival New Mexico. The home slate features Minnesota, Boston College and San Diego State. I can see two wins potentially on their schedule but nothing makes me want to take the over.
Notre Dame 8.5 (-125 over/-105 under) – Not many at this time last year had the Fighting Irish pegged for a trip to the BCS Championship Game but they rode a solid defense and efficient offense all the way there before being thumped by Alabama. They will enter the season without the quarterback who guided them as Everett Golson is not on the team due to academic issues. Also gone are a couple of key members of the defense including Manti T’eo. The schedule features road games at Michigan, Purdue, Air Force and Stanford. In South Bend, the Irish entertain Michigan State, Oklahoma, USC and BYU. They also have a neutral site game against Arizona State. I see the issue at QB haunting them and the luck they had last year runs out. Take the under.
Old Dominion The Monarchs enter their first year of play in FBS and currently there is no win total listed. They have had good success in the lower division going 10-2 last season. East Carolina, Pitt and North Carolina are all on the road but the rest of the schedule is very winnable. I would say eight wins is doable for ODU.