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2019 early independents primer: Biggest games, Heisman hopefuls and one big prediction

Notre Dame became the first independent school to reach the College Football in 2018, but the Irish’s stay was short lived.Clemson routed the Irish 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl Classic, which will rekindle the debate about whether Notre Dame should join a Power 5 conference. As it stands, the program is one of six independents in the FBS. Army and BYU enjoyed winning seasons in 2018, and both schools won their bowl game. New Mexico State, UMass and Liberty round out the schools searching for a conference. With that in mind, a look at what’s in store for the FBS independents in 2019:Independent teams ranked in pre-preseason pollNo. 8 Notre DameNo. 17 ArmyBiggest independent storylineNotre Dame’s encore. The Irish also went undefeated in the regular season under Brian Kelly in 2012 before the loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game. The Irish slid to 9-4 the following season. Notre Dame has a tough schedule in 2019 with true road games at Louisville, Georgia, Michigan and Stanford. How will this team respond to another big-stage flop?First-year independent coaches Freeze returns to coaching two years removed from his resignation at Ole Miss. The Flames were 6-6 last season and Freeze should be able to build on that with an innovative offense. How long will he stick around? Bell was the offensive coordinator at Florida State last season, which followed a two-year stint in the same position at Maryland. The 34-year-old is a former Middle Tennessee State receiver, and that youth movement offers a fresh start in Amherst.MORE: SN’s pre-preseason top 25 for 2019Independent Heisman hopefuls Notre Dame hasn’t had a Heisman Trophy winner in 30 years, but Book should be able to pile up better statistics over a full season. That tough schedule will give him more than enough spotlight to make a run at New York City. The Black Knights haven’t had a Heisman winner since 1958, but Hopkins should pile up the statistics as the quarterback of an option offense. Remember, Navy’s Keenan Reynolds finished fifth in the Heisman voting in 2015. Cougars quarterbacks have made runs in the past, and Wilson will be a longshot. Still, he can build off a fantastic performance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, where he finished 18 of 18 for 317 yards and four touchdowns.Biggest independent games Virginia, USC, Virginia Tech and Boston College at home. It’s one of the tougher schedules in the FBS. The Black Knights will look to keep the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for a third straight year, but the highest-visibility game is at Michigan on Sept. 7. A win at the Big House would vault Army into the top 15 in the early polls. Is September an open Pac-12 audition for the Cougars? BYU opens with Utah and has home games against USC (Sept. 21) and Washington (Sept. 28). A road trip to Tennessee breaks up the Pac-12 slate on Sept. 14, meaning there’s no break for the Cougars in that first month. opens with Rutgers in Bell’s debut. faces Washington State and Alabama in the first two weeks of the season. The Freeze era at starts with a home opener against Syracuse, and the Flames play at Virginia on Nov. 23. MORE: 19 early questions for 2019 seasonBold early prediction for independentsThe Irish will have a solid season, but that schedule will translate into a few losses. With each loss, the Urban Meyer-to-South Bend speculation will grow, even if there’s no viable reason to move on fr上海夜生活_上海品茶夜网_夜上海论坛om Kelly. Army, meanwhile, will have another double-digit win season. Could we get Notre Dame and Army in a bowl matchup? That would be fun.Four-year trends: Independent overall recordsTeams ranked by win percentageRankSchoolWLPct.1Notre Dame3615.7062Army3220.6153BYU2923.5584Liberty89.4715New Mexico State1633.3266UMass1335.271

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