Independent Fearless Predictions, Week 5
Posted Sep 30, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week five Independent games

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

 How'd we do so far? SU 10-6   ATS 9-5-1
Independent Game of the Week

Purdue (4-0) at Notre Dame (3-1)  2:30 PM EST NBC Saturday September 30th
Why to Watch: Notre Dame got past the landmine in East Lansing with the classic comeback win over Michigan State and now has smooth sailing until the regular season finale at USC, right? Purdue has other ideas after a decent 4-0 start and a strong 27-21 win over Minnesota last week, and now starts a three game road trip with dates at Iowa and Northwestern to follow. With an offense that's fifth in the nation in scoring and tenth overall, the Boilermakers might have just enough firepower to hang around with the Irish for more than a few quarters. Notre Dame might be back on everyone's radar after the blowout loss against Michigan, but there are still enough question marks on defense to make this a very interesting trap game. A win over the Boilermakers should mean a 10-1 start with Stanford, UCLA, at Navy, North Carolina, at Air Force, and Army to follow.
Why Purdue Might Win: Bombs away. Known for being a runner, QB Curtis Painter has shown off his passing skills so far with 1,140 yards and right touchdown passes. While he'll make mistakes and he throws too many interceptions, he has a receiving corps that can torch the suspect Irish corners and he should be able to use his mobility to buy time and push the ball downfield without a problem. Despite being 4-0, no one's expecting the Boilermakers to have a shot, so unlike Michigan State, they should play loose and with nothing to lose.
Why Notre Dame Might Win: Bombs away. Notre Dame's secondary might be shaky, but that's nothing compared to a Purdue pass defense that's 115th in the nation allowing 285 yards per game. While it picks off plenty of passes, it gets burned way too often by any way anyone's tried to throw the ball. Notre Dame just so happens to have a couple of receivers who can play, and a quarterback who'll be making a lot of money next year at this time. At no time will the Irish be out of this game. Last week proved that the team had the heart to come up with a big comeback, but it likely won't come to that.
Who to Watch: Notre Dame has had a nightmare of a time keeping Brady Quinn upright allowing ten sacks and way too many hurries. That means the Boilermakers need a huge game from veteran Anthony Spencer, who has turned up his game in a big way as the team's new star pass rusher with five sacks in the first four games. Linebacker George Hall isn't going to put much pressure on Quinn, but he should be the main man against Darius Walker and the running game after coming up with a great game against Minnesota last week. After undergoing surgery in August on an injured keg, he appears back to normal and should be the team's leading tackler over the rest of the year.
What Will Happen: The two teams will combine for 700 passing yards in a fun shootout. Notre Dame will come up with enough big plays in the fourth quarter to avoid the upset, but it'll get hit with a few haymakers.
CFN Prediction
: Notre Dame 41 ... Purdue 26 ... Line: Notre Dame -16
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 3.5

Navy (3-1) at Connecticut (2-1)  12:00 PM EST GamePlan Saturday September 30th
Why to watch: Navy and UConn enter this week’s game with very different emotional mindsets.  The Huskies bounced back from a listless loss to Wake Forest with a defensive-driven 14-7 upset of Indiana in Bloomington.  A win in Storrs Saturday will give them a head of steam heading into the Big East opener the following week.  The Middies, on the other hand, are reeling from a one-point overtime loss to Tulsa that ended their perfect season when Matt Harmon’s game-tying extra point was blocked.  With Air Force, Rutgers and Notre Dame in the on-deck circle, Navy can’t afford back-to-back losses.
Why Navy might win: The UConn defense is pretty stout when faced with Rhode Island, Indiana and a Wake Forest team debuting a freshman quarterback.  Navy, however, presents a unique challenge that a mediocre Husky front seven won’t be able to handle for four quarters.  The Middies top-ranked running attack will wear down UConn up front with the improving QB Brian Hampton and straight-ahead FB Adam Ballard.  
Why UConn might win
: Navy won’t be the only team in Storrs that can effectively run the ball on Saturday.  UConn rose to fourth in the country in rushing offense after gutting Indiana for 257 yards, 152 from Terry Caulley.  In a game that figures to be very tight, return man extraordinaire, Larry Taylor, will give the Huskies a short field to navigate whenever he gets a chance to field a kick.                       
Who to watch: Beginning this week, UConn needs to get something from its 111th-ranked passing game.  Enter Matt Bonislawski, who started the first five games of 2005 before breaking his collarbone and will be taking over for the wildly inconsistent D.J. Hernandez.  Navy is extremely vulnerable in pass defense, so it’s up to Bones to step up and expose that deficiency. If not, Navy should roll.  
What will happen: In a game that’ll be played as if it's 1939, both teams will rush for more than 250 yards, but won’t throw for more than 100.  Navy will hold on when UConn’s Matt Nuzie hooks a potential game-winning field goal in the waning seconds. 
CFN Prediction: Navy 21 ... Connecticut 20 ... Line: Connecticut -2.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ...

Rice (0-4) at Army (2-2)  3:30 PM EST ESPNU Saturday September 30th
Why to watch: Football takes a backseat this week for the Rice family, which is coping with the death of freshman CB Dale Lloyd, who collapsed during a workout Sunday evening.  The Owls debated whether to play this weekend, opting to go one with the game and the rest of the season in honor of their fallen teammate.  Rice has opened with a hellacious schedule that’s included a visit from unbeaten Houston and trips to UCLA, Texas and Florida State.  On the other side, under the watchful eye of Bobby Ross, Army is quietly crafting an impressive turnaround on the Hudson.  Despite an obvious dearth of big-time talent, the Black Knights have beaten Kent State and Baylor and come within a yard of shocking Texas A&M over the past three weeks.  With Rice and VMI at home the next two games, Army may be on the verge of its first post-season game in a decade.
Why Rice might win: Army’s been good, but they haven’t exactly been dominant in any one facet of the game.  If, like the Cadets, Rice opened with Arkansas State and Kent State, they, too, might have two wins.  Army is one-dimensional on offense and prone to plenty of mistakes from QB David Pevoto, who’s thrown seven picks and just one touchdown.  The Owls, who are 19th nationally in sacks, will pressure Pevoto into ill-advised, game-changing throws.
Why Army might win: In more ways than one, Rice is worn out.  The Owls have toured the country for three straight games, making stops in California, Texas, Florida…and now New York just days after burying a 19-year old teammate.  They’ve been physically beaten and mentally drained over the past two weeks, making knocking off an upstart Army program too tall of an order.
Who to watch: In Cameron Craig, Army has a defensive end with the motor of a soldier and the talent to play for most any major program.  Craig has been unblockable this month, racking up 34 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.  His quickness off the edge presents a problem for a Rice offense that’s struggling in pass protection.
What will happen: In an emotional game for both sides, Army will move over .500 by pounding away at a Rice defense that’s weathered and not designed to stop straight-ahead running games.

CFN Prediction
: Army 30 ... Rice 16 ... Line: Army -10.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 1.5

Temple (0-4) at Vanderbilt (1-3) 7:00 PM EST  Saturday September 30th
Why to Watch: Vandy is in the easy, meaty part of its schedule with Tennessee State last week and Ole Miss ahead wrapped around an almost certain layup against Temple. If this isn't' the first time Vanderbilt has been a 34-point favorite, it's certainly one of the few. Temple is deep into the rebuilding mode looking to find something, anything to get excited about. After a season opening overtime loss at Buffalo, the Owls have been blasted 165 to 7 over the last three games.
Why Temple Might Win: This is still Vanderbilt we're talking about. The offense didn't exactly blow up against Tennessee State with only 308 total yards, and it's unlikely to crank out too many big plays. Turnovers killed TSU, so if Temple can limit mistakes and somehow go on a few long drives early, this might be stunningly close well into the second half. However ...
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: ... this is such a young Temple team that it's almost certain to give the ball away at least three times. Western Michigan's defense is hardly a brick wall, but it was able to keep the Owls to nine rushing yards and 140 through the air. All it'll take is a few scores to put this away for the Commodores.
Who to Watch: So is anything positive happening for Temple? Not really, but this is a young, young, young team that's taking its lumps now in the hopes that there's a payoff down the road. Freshman RB Jason Harper was the top recruit in the class this year and has shown off a little bit of pop when he gets room to run. A slippery back with good moves in the open field, he's averaging close to five yards per carry with starter Tim Brown out. As the season goes on, the coaching staff will find more and more ways to get him the ball.
What Will Happen: Vanderbilt will be able to call its shot. It'll get up 14-0 after two drives and will coast from there. 
CFN Prediction
: Vanderbilt 38 ... Temple 7 ... Line: Vanderbilt -34
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 1.5