2018 Independents Preview

August 19, 2018 by CFP Staff

Army was the feel good story among independents in 2017 as the Black Knights posted a second straight winning season while notching their first 10-win campaign (10-3) since 1996. They capped it all off with a second straight win over Navy to capture the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the first time since 1996, and followed that up with a 42-35 upset of San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl.

The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com have Army taking a small step backward in 2018 with an 8-4 projection that contains a pair of victories over FCS schools on consecutive weekends in November. But overall, this will be another successful season for Todd Monken as the computer has the Black Knights holding on to the C-I-C trophy with a win over Air Force at home (-8.45) on November 3 and another victory over Navy (-4.90) in Philadelphia on December 8.

Notre Dame was also 10-3 a year ago and is expected to go 10-2 this season. The Irish opened the year 8-1 with only a single point setback at home to Georgia getting in the way of a 9-0 start. But big losses at Miami (41-8) and Stanford (38-20) dashed any hopes that Notre Dame had of making the college football playoff. Brian Kelly's club was able to upright the ship for a 21-17 victory over LSU in the Citrus Bowl.

This year, Northwestern and USC stand in the way as Notre Dame is predicted to run the table until it falls at Evanston (+0.29) on November 3, and at USC (+2.91) on November 24. The Irish open the season at home versus Michigan as a 3.57-point favorite, and travel to Blacksburg on October 6 where they are 10.94-point favorites to avenge a 2016 home loss to Virginia Tech.

Any expectations of greatness for BYU in 2018 would be dubious. The Cougars are 13-13 in two seasons under Kilani Sitake who replaced Bronco Mendenhall when the latter opted to move east to the University of Virginia. For Sitake, last year's 4-9 campaign was far below the computer's expectations of an 11-2 season. This year, the computer pegs BYU as a 3-9 team versus a schedule that features September road trips to Arizona, Wisconsin and Washington. It gets a little bit easier in the second half of the season, but even the home games against Northern Illinois and Boise State are lose-able. The Cougs end the season at arch-rival Utah.

Liberty and New Mexico State each join the Independent ranks in 2018, with the Flames moving up from the FCS and the Aggies moving over from the Sun Belt. Having a difficult time filling out their schedules, the two schools opted to face each other twice this season, with the Flames heading to Las Cruces on October 6 and the Aggies returning the favor with a trip to Lynchburg, Virginia on November 24.

2018 Projected Order of Finish


  Team W-L CW-CL Rank Power SOS
1 Notre Dame 10-2 0-0 11 92.81 6
2 Army 8-4 0-0 56 59.01 109
3 New Mexico State 8-4 0-0 62 56.18 130
4 Massachusetts 6-6 0-0 84 53.51 108
5 BYU 3-9 0-0 106 56.03 66
6 Liberty 2-10 0-0 122 46.47 98