Independent Fearless Predictions - Week 8
Posted Oct 18, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week eight Independent games

Army | Navy | Notre Dame | Temple
- Past Independent Predictions
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

 How'd we do so far? SU 19-4   ATS 13-7-1
Independent Game of the Week

UCLA (4-2) at Notre Dame (5-1), 2:30 EST, NBC, Saturday, October 21
Why to watch: While USC and Notre Dame are an annual event, UCLA hasn’t had a swipe at the Irish since 1964.  The rare meeting gives UCLA a chance to improve its national image and show that it belong to be among the better teams and programs, and that last year’s ten-win season wasn’t a fluke.  Inconsistent all fall, especially on offense, the Bruins need an upset in South Bend to spark a season that’s in danger of slipping into mediocrity after losing to Oregon last week.  Notre Dame gets back to work following last week’s bye knowing a BCS bowl game and even a spot in Glendale are still attainable goals, but now it’s about appearances needing to win impressively to move up in the human polls.  Expected to sweep through the next five games, the defense has to continue to improve and make progress before the make-or-break showdown against USC.
Why UCLA might win: The Bruin D sprung a couple of leaks in Eugene last week, but still leads the Pac-10 in total defense and is second in scoring defense.  With linemen Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis winning the interior battle with an overrated Irish line, UCLA will make plays for negative yards, adding to its 16 takeaways this season.
Why Notre Dame might win: The Bruins just don’t possess the offensive firepower to outscore the Irish in South Bend, particularly with starting QB Ben Olson still nursing a bad knee.  They’re eighth in the Pac-10 in total offense, with problems through the air with just a pair of touchdown passes in the last four games.  Once Notre Dame grabs a lead, it’ll be next to impossible for young Patrick Cowan, whose injured throat may prevent him from speaking on Saturday, to rally the troops in hostile territory. 
Who to watch: For all the rants about the Irish secondary, the unit is allowing around 100 fewer yards than it did a year ago.  A chunk of that credit belongs to cornerback Mike Richardson, who almost never gets burned, can deliver the payload and is quietly having a solid senior season.
What will happen: After last year’s off week, Charlie Weis nearly coached the Irish to a monumental upset of USC.  He won’t need nearly the same performance to beat this Los Angeles school, but will have the Irish similarly prepared in a coast-to-coast victory.
CFN Prediction: Notre Dame 34 … UCLA 17 ... Line: Notre Dame -14
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Knights of Prosperity) ... 3.5

Temple (0-7) at Northern Illinois (4-3)  3:05 PM EST Saturday, October 21
Why to Watch: Now that Northern Illinois has effectively been whacked from MAC title contention after losing 16-14 to Western Michigan, the goal will be to be as impressive as possible, and get Garrett Wolfe going again, to become attractive for one of the MAC's open bowl slots. Bowls want to be seen, and Wolfe is the league's marquee attraction. Now he has to generate a buzz again after getting stuffed for 25 yards by the Broncos last week. Temple is on a 19-game losing streak, but there have been slow signs of improvement. NIU is more TU's size and actually might represent the best chance to get s win since the opener at Buffalo because ...
Why Temple Might Win: ... NIU can't stop the pass. Only Ball State is giving up more yards through the air than the Huskies who have been torched by everyone from Ohio to Buffalo to Western Michigan. Temple has only been able to throw for more than 200 yards this year, in a 62-0 loss to Louisville, but this week should be the second time. NIU's pass rush hasn't been nearly effective enough to generate consistent pressure, so Vaughn Charlton should have time to throw, but ...
Why Northern Illinois Might Win: ... does he have the receivers who can make enough plays to take advantage of the miserable Huskie secondary? Tight end Steve Maneri caught a touchdown pass against Clemson, but there aren't any deep threats that'll scare anyone, and Charlton, only a freshman, is hardly a polished passer. After last week's performance, the NIU offensive line is frothing at the mouth to pound on someone, and the horrendous Temple defensive line will be the unfortunate victim. Temple allowed 248 rushing yards per game; Wolfe could have that in the first half.
Who to Watch: Wolfe isn't the only good back in this game. Temple's Tim Brown is a talented, quick runner who has the misfortune of not having any room to move. He came back from missing two games to rush for 147 yards and a score on Vanderbilt and 121 on Clemson as part of an excellent three-game stretch. For Temple to win, Brown has to do the impossible and match Wolfe yard for yard and big play for big play. 
What Will Happen:
Don't be stunned if Temple makes this far more interesting than expected for at least a half; NIU isn't that good. However, there will be no answer for Wolfe, who'll rip off a 300-yard day to get his season back on track.
CFN Prediction
: Northern Illinois 44 ... Temple 17 ... Line: Northern Illinois -34.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Knights of Prosperity) ... 1.5

TCU (3-2) at Army (3-4)  3:30 PM EST ESPNU Saturday, October 21st
Why to Watch: Army is trying to right the ship against a D-I team after losing to Connecticut and Rice in the last three weeks by a combined score of 69 to 21, with a 62-7 scrimmage win over VMI in between. A bowl game is still possible, but with Notre Dame, Air Force and Navy still to deal with, along with a date with Tulane, this game against TCU becomes a must-win. The Horned Frogs lost their two big Mountain West games getting tagged by BYU or Utah over the last two weeks, and now they want to go on a big run with, arguably, the toughest games out of the way. It's not a stretch, considering what has happened so far, to call this the key game in each team's season.
Why TCU Might Win: Take out the VMI game, and Army is averaging a mere 265.5 yards and only 15.8 points per game. If TCU can go back to its ball-hawking defensive ways of the last few years, it should be able to come up with several big plays against an Army offense that's among the worst in the nation at turning the ball over giving it up 19 times so far. TCU's biggest weakness has been its pass defense giving up too many big plays, but it won't be exposed by an Army attack that's having a nightmare of a time throwing with any consistency.
Why Army Might Win: It's not like TCU's offense is lighting anyone up like a Christmas tree. Throw out the win over D-IAA UC Davis, and the Horned Frogs are averaging a mere 13.25 points per game with a mediocre overall balance. On the other side of the ball, the Army offensive line has been surprisingly amazing in pass protection, while the TCU line has been surprisingly average at getting to the quarterback.
Who to Watch: How long will David Pevoto be the Army starting quarterback? He started off the season with seven interceptions in the first three games, started to get better, and then regressed against UConn throwing three interceptions. On the plus side, he has thrown a touchdown pass in each of the last four games, but he hasn't been nearly effective enough to keep fans from wanting to see backup Carson Williams. The freshman has been hailed as, potentially, the most talented quarterback Army has had in a long, long time with a great arm and the skills Pevoto lacks. At some point this year, if Pevoto doesn't provide a spark, the future will be now. It might arrive this week.
What Will Happen:
TCU's defense will be far too much for the struggling Black Knight offense, while the time off after the Utah loss will provide the rest needed for the team to be its best since early in the year.
CFN Prediction
: TCU 23 ... Army 10 ... Line: TCU -11.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Knights of Prosperity) ... 2