The number of Independent programs shrinks from 7 to 4 as BYU goes to the Big12, while New Mexico State and Liberty enter Conference USA. That leaves Notre Dame, along with Army, UConn and UMass. It's hard to believe that in 1983 there were 23 Independent schools, including the likes of Penn State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Florida State and West Virginia, along with Notre Dame and Army.
Without question, the kingpin in this bunch is the Fighting Irish who are projected to go 9-3 by the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com.
What may come as a surprise to many are the projections of Army and UConn also finishing above .500
Over-all, Notre Dame's schedule doesn't rate that high in difficulty because games against Ohio State. USC and Clemson are counter-balanced by an awful Stanford program, Central Michigan, Navy and a game against Tennessee State that marks the first time since 1941 (Carnegie Tech) that the Irish will play a school in a lower division. Tennessee State is in the FCS, or what used to be known as 1-AA.
The computer's prediction of a 9-3 season was only 12.45 total points away from 12-0, and those expected losses would come at home against Ohio State and USC, and on the road at Clemson.
|8/26||Navy (at Dublin, Ireland)||W (-26.16)||Won, 42-3|
|9/2||Tennessee Tech (FCS)
|9/9||at NC State||W (-9.78)||?|
|9/16||Central Michigan||W (-33.03)||?|
|9/30||at Duke||W (-1.63)||?|
|10/7||at Louisville||W (-10.97)||?|
|11/4||at Clemson||L (+4.98)||?|
|11/25||at Stanford||W (-39.41)||?|
The biggest change for Notre Dame in 2023 was landing Sam Hartman, the Wake Forest transfer quarterback who has 7 years of college football experience under his belt and instantly became a Heisman candidate by choosing in South Bend.
Hartman already looked the part in a season-opening 42-3 win over Navy in Ireland, even if the Midshipmen aren't a great gauge.
The Irish should easily be 4-0 when Ohio State comes calling on September 23 for a game that will have national championship implications for both teams. USC visits 3 weeks later, and the trip to Clemson comes 3 weeks after the Trojans leave town.
The Black Knights get an 8-4 forecast against a schedule that presents a lot of challenges. Army visits UTSA, Syracuse and LSU, while hosting Troy, Boston College and Coastal Carolina. There are also, of course, the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy games against Air Force in Denver and Navy in Foxborough.
ARMY WEST POINT - SCHEDULE
9/2 at Louisiana-Monroe
9/9 Delaware State (FCS)
9/15 at UTSA
9/23 at Syracuse
10/7 Boston College
10/21 at LSU
11/4 Air Force (Denver)
11/11 Holy Cross (FCS)
11/18 Coastal Carolina
12/9 Navy (Foxborough, MA)
The Huskies went bowling in 2022 for the first time since 2015 and return 17 starters for Jim Mora's sophomore season as head coach.
UCONN - SCHEDULE
8/31 NC State
9/9 at Georgia State
9/30 Utah State
10/7 at Rice
10/28 at Boston College
11/4 at Tennessee
11/11 at James Madison
11/18 Sacred Heart (FCS)
11/25 at Massachusetts
UMass got a positive start on surpassing the computer's projection of a 3-9 campaign by ending a 24-game road losing streak at New Mexico State this past Saturday.
UMASS - SCHEDULE
8/26 at New Mexico State (won, 41-30)
9/2 at Auburn
9/9 Miami (O)
9/16 at Eastern Michigan
9/23 New Mexico
9/30 Arkansas State
10/14 at Penn State
10/28 at Army West Point
11/4 Merrimack (FCS)
11/18 at Liberty