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2013 Pre-Preseason Independent Rankings
Posted Jan 28, 2013

The too early look at how good the Independent teams should be in 2013.

CFN 2013 First Look Rankings


2012 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-29 | Rankings 30-48 | Rankings 49-67
- Rankings 68-86Rankings 87-105The Bottom 19

FINAL 2012 Rankings By Conference
- ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind
- MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC
- Based On Opinion ... CFN 2012 FINAL Rankings, Top  25

1. Notre Dame (12-1)

BCS championship appearances will come on a regular basis now, right? Not quite. Brian Kelly is improving the talent level by leaps and bounds, but it’s still going to take a little while to revamp a team that relied so heavily on veterans and seniors last season. However, there are plenty of great young talents – helped by a terrific recruiting class – to expect another great year and at least another run to a BCS game.

The offense has to replace a slew of key starters, but the one area that’s stocked deep is quarterback. All the options are back, but it’s still Everett Golson’s team to run until further notice. Will George Atkinson III play a bigger role for the running game? He’ll have to, but it could be tough to find room to move behind a retooled interior of the line that loses center Braxston Cave and guard Mike Golic. Tyler Eifert is off to the next level, but Ben Koyack has the look of the next great Irish tight end to take take some of the heat off of No. 1 receiver TJ Jones.

The defense should once again be a rock despite the loss of Manti Te’o and end Kapron Lewis-Moore. The secondary that had to undergo so many changes on the fly should be more settled with corners Bennett Jackson and KeiVarae Russell coming into the year as veterans who’ll know what they’re doing. The combination of linemen Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt should be as good as any in the nation.

2. BYU (8-5)

The Cougars quietly had a terrific season, especially defensively, but eight wins with a bowl victory doesn’t generate too much noise for an independent. While there are always going to be changes in the personnel thanks to Church missions, there’s enough talent returning to push for a double-digit win campaign.

The biggest plus was the return of bowl star Kyle Van Noy for one more year. The weakside linebacker could’ve easily have gone pro a year early, but he’ll be back to anchor a defense that ranked third in the nation in both yards and points allowed. However, all the starters on the front three are gone along with leading tackler Brandon Olgetree.

Unless Taysom Hill is back to form after suffering a knee injury, the offense needs to come up with a new option at quarterback with both Riley Nelson and James Lark gone. Three starters are back up front to provide a push for Jamaal Williams and the ground game, but receivers Cody Hoffman and JD Falslev will be the stars of the attack if someone can get them the ball.

3. Navy (8-5)

Navy righted the ship and got back to a bowl game, but it wasn’t quite the smooth ride it was expected to be. Sophomore-to-be quarterback Keenan Reynolds is the new star of the ground game, but he loses speedy Gee Gee Greene and Bo Snelson out of the backfield. Fortunately, fullback Noah Copeland is back to pound away behind a rebuilding line that loses the left side. The defense has to come up with a pass rush from somewhere, and while tough tackling linebacker Matt Warrick is gone and Rover Tra’ves Bush needs to be replaced, there are plenty of returning veterans. Unfortunately, Warrick, Bush, end Wes Henderson and linebacker Keegan Wetzel were the top playmakers in 2012, and they all need to be replaced.

4. Army (2-10)

2012 was supposed to be when Army turned a corner and started to become more Navy-like. Bad defense, no passing game and an ill-timed fumble against the Midshipmen made the year a disaster, but there’s enough experience returning for Rich Ellerson to hope for a little more luck. Quarterback Trent Steelman and running back Malcolm Brown are gone, but second-leading rusher Raymond Maples is back along with center Ryan Powls and the right side of the line. The offseason will be about the fight between A.J. Schurr and Angel Santiago for the starting quarterback gig, but it would be nice if a receiver could emerge. The defense that couldn’t stop anyone from throwing deep or running up the gut gets back eight starters led by middle linebacker Geoffery Bacon, but the front three will be really, really small. Eight underclassmen started on D, and now it’s time to grow up.

5. New Mexico State (1-11)

A strong case could be made that NMSU was the worst team in college football last season, and now it’s up to Doug Martin to try making something out of a program without a home after the WAC fell apart. The first goal will be to find something that works, and it has to start with both lines. There wasn’t any pass rush, and it won’t help to lose end Donte Savage or middle linebacker B.J. Adolpho. Three starters return to a mediocre secondary that didn’t get any help from the front seven. The offense has to protect big bomber Andrew Manley after the line got him crushed. Four starters are back along with top receiver Austin Franklin to hop for an immediate improvement. Backs Germi Morrison and Tiger Powell will handle the running game.

6. Idaho (1-11)

New head coach Paul Petrino has to try to breathe life into a program that wasn’t wanted after the WAC crumbled, and starting out with a better offense would be a plus. The Vandals ranked dead last in the nation in scoring, but that might change right away with nine starters returning including starting quarterback Taylor Davis and four starters on the line. However, the woeful running game won’t have Ryan Bass anymore, relying mostly on James Baker. The defense wasn’t any better, giving up over 42 points per game, but most of the front four is back. End Benson Mayowa is done along with leading tackler, free safety Gary Walker, but the biggest loss is on special teams with punter Bobby Cowan done.