This is the 12th and final article in a series of conference profiles as part of BCS Know How’s season preview. Today we focus on the FBS independent schools.
Conference: FBS Independents
Current Member Schools: Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Navy Midshipmen, Army Black Knights (3).
Bowl Affiliations: Poinsettia Bowl (Navy), Armed Forces Bowl (Army and Navy), Big East Bowls (Notre Dame).
Overall Bowl Record: 1-0
Heisman Vote Recipients: Notre Dame WR Golden Tate (10th Overall)
AP All-Americans: Notre Dame WR Golden Tate (1st Team),
2010 Outlook: Three teams—Navy, Army and Notre Dame—make up the odd troika of Football Bowl Subdivision independent schools. Three squads that, although are a part of the FBS and can participate in the BCS, do not belong to any conference.
Of course, these three schools are well known and well followed around the country, with the armed forces getting national support and Notre Dame being the closest thing the nation has to a collegiate “America’s Team” with their national television contract.
Yet, for all their past glory and tradition, the past couple of seasons have been tough for Fighting Irish football, as high expectations have been met with sub-par results on the field.
Coach Charlie Weiss, quarterback Jimmy Clausen, and wide receiver Golden Tate have all moved on after two disappointing seasons.
Notre Dame now looks to break out of a two-season funk with a new coach (former Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly), new quarterback (likely junior Dayne Crist), and new lead receiver and Heisman hopeful (Michael Floyd).
The Irish are usually a media darling, if successful, and could be in contention for a BCS bowl bid if they can get to nine wins this season.
For all the recent struggles of the Fighting Irish, the Midshipmen at Navy have been a surprisingly consistent and successful team during the past half decade.
The Midshipmen were even able to weather the departure of coach Paul Johnson after the 2008 season, and finished 10-4 last season, including a convincing 35-13 victory in the Texas Bowl over Missouri.
Navy’s star on offense, quarterback Ricky Dobbs, is back to improve upon his record-breaking 2009 campaign, when he broke the FBS record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (27).
Mastering the triple option has been a revelation for Dobbs and the Midshipmen, a different look for teams accustomed to more traditional offensive attacks, and gives the team an upper hand in every game.
Don’t be surprised if the Midshipmen finish the season ranked or even make a late push at a BCS bowl.
A revitalized Army team may round out a group of three without a losing record among them, as second-year coach Rich Ellerson may finally have the pieces to make a marked improvement on the Black Knights offense and defensive scheme.
Air Force transfer fullback Jared Hasin and any combination of Army quarterbacks might just hold the keys to whether the Knights can submit a winning record in 2010.
2010 Heisman Hopefuls: Navy QB Ricky Dobbs, Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd
BCS Know How’s 2010 Predictions:
“Conference Champion” – Navy (10-2)
“Conference Runner-up” – Notre Dame (8-4)
Heisman Finalists: None