FBS Independents Week 8 Thoughts

For the first time in a while, all four Independent teams are in action this week, and all are playing their games on Saturday. UMass and Notre Dame both had their breaks last week, so it was Army and BYU picking up the slack. Army won their game, though they had to escape against Eastern Michigan, 28-27. BYU kept doin’ their thing, and lost to Mississippi State 35-10. Once again, I was 2-0 in my picks.

Here’s what I’m thinking for this week’s slate of games.

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Temple (3-4) v. Army (5-2)

Army just squeaked by last week, ousting Eastern Michigan by one point. It’d be redundant to talk about Army’s rushing attack, which is averaging 378 yards per game on the ground. It’s always tough to project how a team will do against a triple option offense, but Temple doesn’t stop the run with great effectiveness anyways.

What catches my eye about Temple is that, on the surface, 3-4 doesn’t look like that bad of a record. That being said, their three wins are as follows: at home against Villanova (FCS team), at home against UMass (possibly the worst team in football), and on the road, at East Carolina (competing with UMass to be the worst team in football).

You can catch this game tomorrow at high noon on CBS Sports Network. I’ll take the Black Knights by 12.

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Georgia Southern (0-5) v. UMass (0-6)

Remember how I posted our Best Worst Game Of The Week yesterday? Yeah, well this is the Worst Worst Game Of The Week. On the bright side, someone is going to leave this game with a W (probably).

If the numbers on Georgia Southern are true, and we all know that numbers typically don’t lie, they’re going to lose Saturday. Quarterback Shai Werts has yet to throw for 500 yards on the season, and he has 3 touchdowns to go along with 4 picks. Werts is also their leading rusher, with a hair over 300 yards on the year.

Meanwhile, supposing Andrew Ford (above) doesn’t forget how to throw a football, he should have a relatively easy time carving up this secondary, providing the offensive line can give him a little bit of time. The Eagles are a pretty average team when it comes to sack totals (64th in the country, with 10), but the Minutemen give up over 5 sacks per game, good for last in the FBS.

Kickoff is at 3:30 pm. You’re going to have to stream it by finding some website that will almost definitely give your computer viruses. Georgia Southern has been blown out multiple times this season, UMass hasn’t. Plus, UMass has had two weeks to prepare for this one. They can’t keep losing close games forever, right? Minutemen by 1.

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BYU (1-6) v. East Carolina (1-6)

Also a contender for Worst Worst Game Of The Week… well, at least both of these teams have a win to their name. ECU averages double the amount of points that BYU scores on the season (22 points per game vs. 11 points per game). The Cougars may just have the worst offense in all of college football. But, maybe they break out of it this week. Why?

Because ECU gives up 600 yards of total offense per game? I did not type that wrong. 600 yards per game. I wouldn’t be shocked if high school teams could hang 20 on this Pirates team.

You can watch this one on CBS Sports Network at 7:30 pm. BYU is trash, but East Carolina is like a landfill. Cougars by 10.

#11 USC (6-1) v. #13 Notre Dame (5-1)

Finally, a good game to talk about. In fact, this has the potential to be the best game of the weekend.

I talked yesterday about how Notre Dame can use this as a step to catapult themselves into the playoff conversation. Don’t think that this isn’t a fact that’s talked about in their locker room; they’re fully aware of the importance of this game.

Notre Dame will need Brandon Wimbush to step up and play the biggest game of his career tomorrow. As good of a rushing tandem as he and Josh Adams have been (5th best in the country, for those of you at home wondering), he’s going to need to make big throws, too. This is fine though, because USC’s passing defense is, in a word, bad. Very bad. Like, allows close to 300 yards per game passing bad.  I wouldn’t be shocked if Equanimeous St. Brown (15 catches, 2 touchdowns on the season) breaks out the way we all know he’s capable of, especially with his younger brother in attendance on his official recruiting trip to ND.

I’m very interested to see what Ronald Jones II does in this game. As Kevin said, Jones II has had a great start to the year. And, he’s showed up against the Irish, with over 200 rushing yards and a touchdown in two career games. That being said, Notre Dame has only given up one rushing touchdown all season long. If USC is going to keep pace with the Irish offense, which puts up an average of 40 points per game, then they’re going to need Sam Darnold to play like the Heisman candidate he was projected to be at the beginning of the season. He’s underperformed so far, but he still has his team in a position to make a run at the end of the year.

I’m expecting this game to be an ugly one for both defenses, but I’m leaning towards the Irish for two reasons. First, because of my bias. And second, Darnold has not yet proven that he can limit his turnovers this season, with 9 picks through seven games. Look for an opportunistic Irish D, who has 14 forced turnovers in six games, to exploit that.

Gametime from South Bend is 7:30 pm on NBC. Give me the Irish by 3 in an instant classic.

 

Cover Photo from Reign Of Troy.

Other media from NBC Sports, The Recorder, and Hampton Roads, in that particular order.

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