FBS Independents Week 9 Thoughts

Goddamn BYU, man. I was one game off from being perfect in my weekly picks for the third straight week. I picked the Irish by 3, and as everyone knows by now, they won by a lot more than 3 against USC. I picked UMass by 1, and they exploded offensively, besting Georgia Southern 55-20. And I picked Army, who needed OT, but still beat Temple 31-28. The lone game I whiffed on was BYU, who continued their losing ways.

This week, there’s only three games to pick, as Army is enjoying their week off. Let’s get to it.

San Jose State (1-7) v. BYU (1-7)

This is quite possibly the worst game of the weekend. San Jose State’s lone win came against Cal Poly, who hasn’t cracked the W column yet this season. As we know, BYU was able to beat an FCS team. Other than that, they can’t do anything right.

Frankly, I’m still pretty upset that BYU messed up my third straight perfect week of picking Independent games. I don’t want to continue to tell you how BYU still can’t score points (averaging 12.1 points per game). Tanner Mangum has a smooth 5 touchdown passes on the year, and Ula Tolutau leads the squad in rushing at 300 yards on the season.

That being said, San Jose State gives up 480 yards of offense per game, which is deep in the cellar of defensive rankings. They put up 16 points per game, but they haven’t played nearly the same quality of teams as BYU has.

You can watch this game on ESPN3 tomorrow at 3:00 pm. However, if I were you, I probably wouldn’t, it’s going to be a dumpster fire. I’ll give you another swing BYU; Cougars by 7.

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#14 NC State (6-1) v. #9 Notre Dame (6-1)

Once again, the Irish are overshadowed for potential game of the week by a Big 10 matchup involving Penn State. Honestly, I’m totally fine with that.

ND had their best game in a long time against USC last weekend. They dominated in every facet of the game – they ran the ball down the Trojans’ throats, they completed timely passes, they avoided penalties, they took the ball away. It was the absolute epitome of a team win.

As I’ve said before, ND’s calling card defensively is their ability to force turnovers. The team that’s committed the least amount of turnovers this season? – the NC State Wolfpack. Junior quarterback Ryan Finley has yet to throw an interception in about 250 attempts thus far (1,968 yards, 11 touchdowns, 69.4 completion percentage). Finley played solid enough for NC State to best the Irish last year in that monsoon of a game. Together, with Nyheim Hines, the Wolfpack have a very formidable, clean offense.

The Wolfpack D is tough against the run, as they hold opponents to under 100 yards rushing. Earlier this season, they did a good job of containing reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. To be fair though, they’ve yet to play a team with as many options out of the backfield as ND and as good of an offensive line as ND. Josh Adams (above) has finally gotten the Heisman-candidate attention he is so worthy of. After (yet another) coming out party against USC last weekend, look for #33 to have another big week.

I think this game will come down to turnovers. Obviously, NC State only has 4 of them on the season. That puts pressure on the Irish to capitalize on their possessions, and hopefully force Finley into his first mistake of the year. You know they’ll be ready.

This game kicks off at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon, and it’ll be broadcasted on NBC Sports. I’m going with the Irish by 9 at home, to avenge last year’s defeat.

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Appalachian State (5-2) v. UMass (1-6)

Look at UMass go! Hanging 55 points is impressive no matter who you play, but it must’ve felt great for the Minutemen, who capitalized on their two week break. While Andrew Ford went 9-for-12 passing, it was Ross Comis (featured) who got the majority of the reps. Comis totaled over 220 yards of total offense, and was able to throw three touchdown passes. Marquis Young and Bilal Ally both totaled over 100 yards rushing, with the latter scoring three times himself.

The Mountaineers, meanwhile, are winners of three straight games. Believe it or not, these teams aren’t all that different statistically speaking. In fact, it’s the Minutemen who have the better offense – UMass averages .2 points per game more, and over 30 yards more per game. This should be a solid matchup of quarterbacks between Ford and Taylor Lamb (above), who has thrown for over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns, with only three picks.

I’d like to say I think UMass will be able to win, but this will be a tight game. And if there’s something the Minutemen have proven to me time and time again, it’s that they cannot win close games.

This matchup also kicks off at 3:30 pm tomorrow. No major network is picking this one up, but I seriously think it’s worth a watch if you’re not interested in Penn State v. Ohio State or NC State v. Notre Dame. I pick Appalachian State by 5.

 

Cover photo via The Boston Globe.

Other media via Getty Images, Chattanooga Free Times Press.

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