Independent Fearless Predictions, Week 4
Posted Sep 16, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week four Independent games

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

 How'd we do so far? SU 9-3   ATS 6-4-1
Independent Game of the Week

Notre Dame (2-1) at Michigan State (3-0) 8 pm EST ABC Saturday, Sept. 22
Why to watch: These two have played one of the most entertaining and consistent series over the last six games decided by seven points or fewer. The Spartans have been a major thorn in the Irish's side winning seven of the last nine and come into this looking for a signature win to get the college football world to start to take them seriously. Notre Dame saw its big season crash with a resounding thud in a 47-21 thud that wasn't as close as the blowout final score might indicate. Even so, things get easier, much easier, over the next seven games up until the USC showdown. In other words, a win in East Lansing should mean a 10-1 record and a spot secured in the BCS no matter what happens against the Trojans.
Why Notre Dame might win: Michigan State's pass defense is suspect. It's fine on the shorter plays, but it has a nightmare of a time against the deep ball, and it's getting worse. It was ripped apart last week by Pitt for 277 yards and two touchdowns, but it was able to come up with two key picks. The Spartan pass rush isn't nearly dangerous enough to get the steady pressure needed on QB Brady Quinn to force the mistakes made against Michigan. Quinn should be able to hit the 300-yard mark without much of a problem. You don't think the Irish offense will be focused and fired up after last week, do you?
Why Michigan State might win: WR Matt Trannon. Notre Dame has faces three wonderful receivers so far in Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, Penn State's Derrick Williams, and Michigan's Mario Manningham. The suspect Irish corners were able to keep Williams in check, but got torched by Manningham and had major problems with Johnson (until Tech stopped throwing him the ball). The 6-6 Trannon ripped apart Eastern Michigan for 151 yards and two touchdown on 14 catches, and then was erased by Pitt making a mere one grab for six yards. Last year, Trannon torched the Irish for 136 yards and two touchdowns. If he does that again, MSU will win.
Who to watch: With the first pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select: Adrian Peterson. With the second pick, the Oakland Raiders select ... Quinn, or Michigan State QB Drew Stanton? It'll take a major move by someone else to be one of the first two quarterbacks selected in next year's draft over these two stars, and one of them might end up going number one overall. Quinn has the teachings of Charlie Weis and the arm and toughness, while Stanton has the size, accuracy, and mobility. Quinn has thrown for a ton of yards so far and has been great at getting Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight the deep ball, but there's a question about how he can handle blitzes and a steady pass rush after struggling against Michigan. Stanton hasn't really been tested yet this year, but he's been terrific coming off a brilliant 105-yard rushing, 198-yard passing day against Pitt. He's a legitimate Heisman candidate who needs  a high profile game to show off. This is it.
What will happen: Michigan State is the real deal, but Notre Dame will bounce back in a big way with a brilliant performance by Quinn as he gets back in the Heisman race.
CFN Prediction
: Notre Dame 34 .. Michigan State 27
... Line: Notre Dame -4.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 4

Tulsa (2-1) at Navy (3-0), 1:30 EST, CSTV Saturday, September 23
Why to watch: Would you be disappointed if this was a minor bowl game? Tulsa is trying to live up to its status as the defending Conference USA champion, and it has beaten the teams it should've with ease, and lost to BYU, 49-24, to put the team a step behind in the overall pecking order. It's going to have its hands full with a Navy team that just keeps on winning with six victories in a row. While beating East Carolina and UMass were nice, the dominant 37-9 win over Stanford last week, on the road, showed just how strong the program has become. A bowl bid is all but assured with teams like Temple and Duke ahead, but Paul Johnson's crew could use the win to generate a little bit of buzz.
Why Tulsa might win: There's no stopping the Navy running game, and Tulsa doesn't have the linebackers to get the job done, but it does have an effective offense led by a line that's giving QB Paul Smith all the time in the world to throw. Smith is one of the nation's better unknown quarterbacks who doesn't do anything flashy, but he wins games. Navy has had little luck so far stopping anyone from throwing the ball, so expect it to be bombs away. However ...
Why Navy might win: ... Stanford threw for 368 yards and East Carolina threw for 403, and both lost. Even when all the parts aren't clicking, Navy's offense still works. The line has been fantastic and consistent allowing Brian Hampton get the hang of running the show full-time. Tulsa's defense is fine, but it's not nearly special enough to keep Navy under 300 rushing yards.
Who to watch: For Tulsa to win, Smith has to be nearly perfect. The junior has thrown three picks so far, but he has been, for the most part, good when he's had to be. He struggled a bit against BYU, and Tulsa lost. He threw for over 200 yards against Stephen F. Austin and North Texas, and they were easy wins. For his career as a starter, he has thrown for over 200 yards in 13 of 15 games (give him the extra yard 199-yard day last year against Rice, but he hasn't gone over 300. He'll need to this week.
What will happen: It's up to Navy. If the offense is clicking, Tulsa won't be able to keep up. If it plays like it did against UMass, the Golden Hurricane will come away with the solid win.  
CFN Prediction: Navy 26 .. Tulsa 21 ... Line: Navy -5.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ...

Army (1-2) at Baylor (1-2) 7:00 pm EST Saturday, Sept. 23
Why to watch: Which team is for real? Is it the Army team that found a way to stay with Texas A&M last week despite a total inability to stop the Aggie running game? Is it the Baylor team who's offense blew up against Northwestern State, but still has problems moving the ball against defenses with a pulse? The Bears kick off the Big 12 season next week against Kansas State in a winnable home game that they can't afford to lose if they want to keep a bowl dream alive. Of course, they also can't afford to give away a loss to Army. Things ease up in a big way for the Black Knights with home dates against Rice and VMI ahead, so a win here might mean a stunning 4-2 start.
Why Army might win: Army can't stop anyone's running game getting blasted for 222 yards by Arkansas State, 198 by Kent State, and 262 by Texas A&M. Fortunately, Baylor can't/doesn't run. The Bears aren't just last in the nation in rushing; they aren't even close averaging 19 yards per game. Part of the problem, at least statistically, has been pass protection with sacks counting towards the rushing total. Army might not be all that big, but it's aggressive and strong at getting into the backfield.
Why Baylor might win: Baylor can't run, but Army can't throw. At all. With no touchdown passes and seven interceptions thrown in the first two games, this isn't exactly a passing attack built on making big plays. BU's defense is fantastic at taking the ball away as one of only five teams to force ten or more turnovers. If the Bears can limit their mistakes, which has been an issue so far, the should be able to outlast an Army team that's not going to come out and hang 40 up on the board.
Who to watch: Is the Baylor offense getting any better? It's certainly chucking it around a lot, and Shawn Bell is starting to make some progress, but he's not able to crank out enough yards. If there's not going to be any semblance of a running game, then Bell has to start consistently throwing for 300 yards and he has to get the ball to his receivers in a position where they can make big plays. He hasn't done either yet, and he had better take a step up in his production in a big hurry or the conference schedule isn't going to be pleasant.
What will happen: Army will scratch and claw, but it won't be nearly enough.
CFN Prediction
: Baylor 24 ... Army 13
... Line: Baylor -10
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ...

Temple (0-3) at Western Michigan (2-1) 7:00 pm EST Saturday, Sept. 23
Why to watch: Is it possible Western Michigan can slip up against the worst team in college football? Last year, even in a season when the Broncos were on their way to a great season, they needed a last second field goal to beat lowly Temple 19-16. This year, things appear to be a big difference from a year ago with the Broncos coming in on an impressive two-game winning streak beating Toledo and Virginia, while Temple has been obliterated by everyone losing to Buffalo, Louisville and Minnesota by a combined score of 133-3 and is looking for anything positive in the start of the Al Golden era.
Why Temple might win: The only shot the Owls have to make this a game is if Western Michigan is looking ahead to Ohio and screws up big-time. The Bronco secondary has been nothing special, and the overall offense hasn't moved the ball all that well with little passing game to speak of. In fact, WMU is last among MAC teams in total offense and passing offense. However ...
Why Western Michigan might win: ... the Broncos are great at not making mistakes and the D is solid at forcing turnovers. To be fair to Temple, it's been blasted by the two good teams it faced and went to overtime against the team its size, but Western Michigan is far better than Buffalo. Even against the Bulls, Temple only managed 183 yards of total offense.
Who to watch: Is Ryan Cubit ready to go? The WMU starter hurt his hand in the opener, but the team has rallied with two wins under junior Thomas Peregrin. However, Peregrin hasn't been anything special and hasn't done anything for the passing game throwing for 138 yards in two games. Cubit is the leader of the team and the type of quarterback who can raise the overall play of the offense by his decision making. He needs to play in this game to shake the rust off for the Ohio game.
What will happen
: Western Michigan isn't going to blow out Temple ... until the third quarter. The Owl offense simply isn't doing anything.
CFN Prediction
Western Michigan 41 ... Temple 13 ... Line: Western Michigan -27.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 1.5