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2021 FBS Independent Football Preview

Notre Dame- the Irish move back to Independent status after spending a year in the ACC, gone from last years College Football Playoff team is QB Ian Book who posted sparkling 33-5 record leading the offense, former Wisconsin QB Jack Coan will take over the starting role, the O-Line lost four starters but RB Kyren Williams who rushed for 1,125 yards in 2020 leads a strong backfield, former Cincinnati D coordinator Marcus Freeman takes over the defense after Clark Lea took the head coaching job at Vanderbilt, the front seven is strong and junior Kyle Hamilton is a star in the secondary, the schedule is manageable and if the new pieces on offense come together another playoff appearance isn’t out of the question

Liberty- HC Hugh Freeze basically returns his entire team that finished 10-1 and beat 2 power five schools and undefeated Coastal Carolina, junior dual threat QB Malik Willis returns after passing for 2,260 yards and rushing for 944 last year, expect an even bigger year in 2021 as Willis will have his top 3 receivers back along with the entire O-Line, the defense returns 10 starters from a unit the finished in the top 30 in rushing and passing yards allowed, the Flames could be 9-0 as Freeze returns to Oxford on November 6

BYU-Many knew how good QB Zach Wilson could be, no one however could have saw an 11-1 season coming in 2020, the Cougars were one of college football’s biggest surprises with their only loss coming on a goal line stand at then undefeated Coastal Carolina, Wilson is now with the Jets and HC Kalani Sitake will turn to Jaren Hall to take control of the offense, the receivers are talented and sophomore RB Tyler Allegeier returns after rushing for 1,130 yards last year, the defense was a force last year finishing at the top in almost every statistical category, however it must replace 7 starters including the entire D-line, schedule is much more daunting in 2021

Army- after stumbling to a 5-8 record in 2019 HC Jeff Monken guided the Black Knight back to their 4th bowl in the past 5 seasons, luckily for its fan base Monken once again did not leave to take a power 5 coaching job, talent returns on offense with all four quarterbacks who started games in 2020 competing for playing time, sophomore slotback Tyrell Robinson returns but must rely on four new starters on the O-Line, the defense was lights out last year finishing 2nd in the nation in scoring albeit against pretty weak competition, 7 starters return including a strong line led by nose tackle Nolan Cockrill, must face Wisconsin and Liberty both on the road

Uconn- Randy Edsall took the Huskies to five bowls including the Fiesta Bowl in 2010 in his first go around so he certainly knows how to win there, but his return to Storrs hasn’t fared so well posting a 6-30 record in three seasons, after taking the entire 2020 season off due to Covid concerns its hard to forecast what 2021 will bring, the quarterback competition features sophomores Jack Zergiotis and Steven Krajewski who both saw action in 2019, Kevin Mensah is a proven RB with 2 1,000 plus rushing seasons under his belt, the defense was dreadful in 2019 giving up 40.5 points a game however there is experience on the front 7, coordinator Lou Spanos spent the year off trying to develop more strength and athleticism, the schedule offers a handful of winnable games

Umass- HC Walt Bell enters his third season at Umass carrying a 1-15 record thru the first 2, the Minutemen only played 4 games in 2020 due to Covid-19 and there wasn’t a whole lot of bright spots getting blown out in all 4, Bell who is known for his offensive expertise will turn to strong armed pocket passer Tyler Lytle who transferred from Colorado, Lytle does have depth at running back and sophomore Jermaine Johnson will lead the receiving corps, the defense returns 8 starters including Avien Peah at defensive end who carded 6 tackles for loss last year, the secondary is without question the units biggest strength

New Mexico State- Doug Martin enters his 9 season with a record of 23-64 with the Aggies, so the question is if the time to win isn’t now then when, the team didn’t have a 2020 fall season and played 2 FCS schools in the Spring, quarterbacks Jonah Johnson and Weston Eget will compete for the starting job, returning receiver Robert Downs III will be the primary target, inexperience remains elsewhere, the defense for the most part couldn’t stop anyone in2019 and didn’t look much better in the two Spring games, new faces litter the depth chart

Buy- Uconn

Sell- BYU

Best Bet- Uconn OVER total wins

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