Independent Fearless Predictions - Week Three
Posted Sep 14, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week three Independent games

Army | Navy | Notre Dame | Temple
- Past Independent Predictions
Week One

 How'd we do so far? SU 6-2   ATS 3-3-1
Independent Game of the Week

Michigan (2-0) at Notre Dame (2-0) 3:30 pm EST NBC Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: One way or the other, a flock will be converted. There are still some doubters out there about Notre Dame even after a 41-17 whupping of Penn State and disrespected, tough 14-10 win over Georgia Tech. Maybe the Nittany Lions aren't any good? Didn't the Yellow Jackets sort of beat themselves with ther conservative play calling? Has this defense really faced a talented, balanced offense? While the trip to East Lansing to face a thorn-in-the-side Michigan State team will be a tough test, this week's battle with Michigan probably represents the last real shot for a possible Notre Dame loss until the regular-season ender at USC. For Michigan, this is as much a must-win game for Lloyd Carr as any against Ohio State. While recent Big Ten titles are great, a large segment of the Maize and Blue fan base is getting a little itchy waiting for Michigan to once again be a player in the national title race. Under Carr, the Wolverines have been out of the hunt before the leaves have turned losing their opening road game in each of the last six seasons and in seven of the last eight years. Losing three of the last four to the South Benders hasn't helped. A win would propel Michigan into a BCS race and generate a major buzz going into the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin. With Penn State appearing to be average and the toughest Big Ten games at home until the season-ending showdown at Ohio State, a win might mean clear sailing until late November.
Why Michigan might win: Penn State's Tony Hunt and Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice are decent backs, but neither will make any All-America lists. Even so. the Notre Dame defense has been average against the run allowing 277 yards in the first two games. Michigan's Mike Hart is healthy and on a roll rushing for 116 yards and three touchdowns in a limited role against Central Michigan and 146 yards against Vanderbilt. This is a different team when Hart is pounding the ball, and now he finally gets a chance to see what he can do against the Irish after getting knocked out early in last year's game. The better Michigan is at controlling the clock with Hart, the long Brady Quinn and the Irish attack will hang out on the sidelines.
Why Notre Dame might win: Where's the go-to Michigan receiver? Steve Breaston, Mario Manningham, and others have failed to adequately step up and replace the Jason Avant's lost production putting more and more pressure on the ground gameto produce. Michigan QB Chad Henne is good enough to win a game like this as long as his receivers are giving him a little bit of help, but that could be a problem. The Notre Dame secondary did as good a job as humanly possible against Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, and it all but erased Derrick Williams and the Penn State receivers. The main reason for the production in the Irish secondary is because ...
Who to watch: ... safeties Chinedum Ndukwe and Tom Zbikowski are flat-out crushing and killing everything in their path. With a combined 26 tackles and enough teeth-rattling hits to fill a highlight reel, these two have quickly become the nation's most intimidating safety tandem. Are the Michigan receivers tough enough to go over the middle on a consistent basis? We'll quickly find out. On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame's offensive line still has to prove that it can keep Quinn upright. Michigan's pass rush, led by LaMarr Woods and Rondell Biggs, have to be effective at hurrying Quinn while knocking him around a little bit. Georgia Tech beat Quinn up, and the Irish offensive sputtered. The Wolverine pass rushers must provide some pop from the moment they step on the field
What will happen: Never screw with a streak. This is a new Michigan team with several new coaches and a leaner, meaner attitude, but it's still Michigan in a road opener. Notre Dame will know it's been in a fight.
CFN Prediction
: Notre Dame 23 ... Michigan 20
... Line: Notre Dame -7
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 5 

(0-2) at Minnesota (1-1) 2 pm EST Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: For those of you who enjoy car crashes, violent war footage, or the WB Wednesday night lineup, this is the game for you. Minnesota is coming off a 42-17 pounding at Cal and has the Big Ten opener at Purdue next week. Along the way, it gets a nice breather against a Temple team on a 14-game losing streak and has played to two extremes in the first two games. After opening up with a 9-3 overtime loss at Buffalo, it got pounded 62-0 by Louisville in a game that was much worse than the final score might indicate. New head coach Al Golden is looking for anything positive he can get out of his team.  
Why Temple might win: It's defense will sell out to get into the backfield. The secondary can't cover anyone one-on-one, but it's getting a little bit of help from a good pass rush that has generated five sacks and 13 tackles for loss in two games. Minnesota's defense is far from stingy, so it wouldn't be a shock if Temple finally broke through and came up with its first touchdown of the year.
Why Minnesota might win: Temple allowed 168 rushing yards to Temple and 312 yards and seven touchdowns to Louisville. Minnesota's ground game will be looking to get back on track after only gaining 109 on California. The offensive line should dominate from the time the two teams come out of the tunnel.
Who to watch: Minnesota QB Bryan Cupito has been around too long not to be consistent. While he wasn't awful against Cal, he wasn't a difference maker and has shouldered way too much of the blame for the loss. Until the Minnesota running game is the Minnesota running game again, Cupito has to make everyone around him better. He has to show against a weak Owl defense that he can be dangerous enough to keep defensive coordinators awake at night.
What will happen: Temple will get its first touchdown of the year. It won't be nearly enough as the Gophers will put this away after their first two drives. Don't look for a young Gopher team that's still trying to find its way to take it too easy.
CFN Prediction
Minnesota 55 ... Temple 10 ... Line: Minnesota -41
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 1.5 

(1-1) at Texas A&M (2-0) 9:15 pm EST ESPN2 Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: It's military tradition vs. the military academy as Army and Texas A&M go to San Antonio to play for the first time since Army beat a hapless Aggie squad 24-14 in 1972. A&M is rolling having outscored Citadel and UL Lafayette 86 to 10. With an apparent breather against the Black Knights followed up by a home date with Louisiana Tech, and 4-0 start is almost a given before jumping into Big 12 play against Texas Tech. Army struggled over the first two weeks losing to Arkansas State 14-6 and needing overtime to beat a hapless Kent State team. This might not be pretty.
Why Army might win: The only chance of this being close is if A&M takes its foot up off the gas. The Army secondary has been decent so far only allowing 189 passing yards, so if Stephen McGee and the Aggie air attack aren't on early, Army can tee off against the running game. That's easier said than done because ...
Why Texas A&M might win: ... A&M should be able to run over, around, and through a limited Black Knight defensive front. A&M steamrolled through its first two games with a balanced offense, but this will be a game for Courtney Lewis, Jorvorskie Lane and the ground attack to do the most damage. The veteran A&M offensive line should be able to open up mile-wide holes and should wear Army down early into the second half. The Black Knights don't have the players on either side of the ball to keep this close.
Who to watch: Lane was underutilized at times last year, but he's getting more of a chance to be in the mix early on this season and has been great at using his defensive lineman-sized frame around the goal ling with five scores in two games. He's a hammer on short yards and veteran Courtney Lewis has been effective in the rotation. The real excitement is over super-recruit Mike Goodson, who has shown flashes of his potential averaging 7.46 yards per carry with a team leading 97 yards. This three-headed monster will be a bear to slow down as the year goes on, and they've helped McGee grow into the role as the starter over the first two weeks.
What will happen: It's up to A&M and how focused it'll be.
CFN Prediction
: Texas A&M 31 ... Army 3
... Line: Texas  A&M -27.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2 

Navy (2-0) at Stanford (0-2), 10:00 EST, Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: After the ribbons are cut on the New Stanford Stadium, fans will witness a sharp study in contrast between a pair of programs that have struggled in September.  While Navy has literally run the ball on 90% of its plays, Stanford leans heavily on the strong right arm of QB Trent Edwards and his talented receiver Evan Moore. The Middies are 2-0, but close calls with East Carolina and UMass have created cause for concern. Fortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the nasty battle it did when the schedules first came out. If not for Duke, Stanford might be the worst team playing in a BCS conference.  After getting shellacked by Oregon, the Cardinal blew a 20-point lead last week in a stunning loss to San Jose State.  Making matters worse, WR Mark Bradford may be done for the year with an injury. Hey, at least they’ve got new digs.
Why Navy might win: It’s no mystery what Navy will do when they have the ball, but that doesn’t mean Stanford will stop them.  The Cardinal D is 119th—that’s synonymous with dead last—in the country against the run surrendering a mind-boggling 320 yards a game.  In San Jose last week, they made Yonus Davis look like Terrell Davis.  Stanford’s top three tacklers are defensive backs, and they’ll be padding those numbers again this week.
Stanford might win: The only thing that’s gone right for the Cardinal has been the passing game.  Edwards is off to a strong start and will hook up early and often with the 6-7 Moore against an undersized Navy secondary that’s ranked 80th nationally in pass defense. If Stanford jumps out to a quick lead, in the new era of non-stop game clocks, the Midshipmen don’t have the aerial weapons to play catch up.
Who to watch: Bradford’s injury has opened the door for former prep star Richard Sherman to contribute in his first fall on the Farm.  The 6-3 true freshman had six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in his debut, and is one of the best all-around athletes on the team. Navy Head coach Paul Johnson hasn’t been happy with the play of quarterbacks Brian Hampton and Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who’ve been careless with the ball and unable to complete passes. Johnson used both options last week, and he might repeat that Saturday night if the attack isn’t crisper.
What will happen: Navy won’t stop Stanford’s passing game, and Stanford won’t stop Navy’s ground attack.  An Adam Ballard, fourth-quarter plunge into the end zone will continue the Cardinal’s nightmarish start to 2006.    
CFN Prediction: Navy 31 ... Stanford 30 ... Line: Stanford -3
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2.5