Independent Fearless Predictions, Nov. 11
Posted Nov 8, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week Eleven Independent games

Army | Navy | Notre Dame | Temple
- Past Independent Predictions
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 |
Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10

How'd we do so far? SU 28-5   ATS 20-10-1
Independent Game of the Week

Notre Dame (8-1) at Air Force (4-4)  4 PM CSTV Saturday November 11th
Why to Watch: Air Force and Notre Dame hook up for the first time since 2002, and while the Irish own a 21-5 all-time advantage, the Falcons have more than held their own over the last several meetings. Notre Dame is humming along on a six-game winning streak wading through the average teams on the slate until it can finally get to the showdown against USC that will make or break the distant national title dreams. Looking to win its version of the Commander in Chief trophy by playing all three service academies in the span of a month, fighting through complacency in a long season could be the biggest battle. Air Force whacked Army 43-7 last week and could use a huge confidence boost going into the stretch run of the Mountain West race. It'll be the passing team vs. the running team in an interesting clash of styles that could be more interesting than Irish fans might like.
Why Notre Dame Might Win: The safeties. Tom Zbikowski and Chinedum Ndukwe might cover the pass like linebackers, but they hit like a ton of bricks and have the speed and quickness to be all over the field keeping the Air Force running game under wraps. The coaching staff already saw the Navy running game a few weeks ago, and while Air Force runs a slightly different version, the adjustments made by the Irish at halftime of the 38-14 win over the Midshipmen to bottle up everything on the outside should work. The Air Force pass defense functions by giving up the short passes and trying everything possible to avoid getting beaten deep. Brady Quinn should be able to throw the seven to ten-yard quick patterns to his heart's content. His receivers might not break them into home runs, but they'll certainly get their share of yards after the catch.
Why Air Force Might Win: While the Irish defense is good on third downs, there's no one better in America at keeping the chains moving than Air Force converting a nation-leading 58% of its chances while being fourth in time of possession holding on to the ball for close to 33 minutes a game. The formula is this simple: run the ball, control the clock, don't give up the home run to Quinn. The secondary isn't good enough to hang with Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight if this gets into a shootout, so the Falcons have to be patient and let Quinn take time off the clock with the midrange passing game. The shorter the game, the better for Air Force.
Who to Watch: Samardzija gets all the All-America attention, and for good reason being one of the nation's most clutch big-play receivers, but McKnight's the one who leads the team in receivers and has been the go-to scoring target over the last few weeks scoring four times against Navy and North Carolina. The Air Force secondary can stop one of the two big boys, but not both. A ten-catch day on all the midrange throws Quinn will be within reach.
What Will Happen: The game might take 90 minutes to play. Quinn will be patient as he pick, pick, picks the Air Force defense to death, and then he'll connect on one big haymaker to end all question about an upset.
CFN Prediction
: Notre Dame 34 ... Air Force 16 .. Line: Notre Dame -11.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause) ...

Navy (6-3) at Eastern Michigan (1-8)  1 PM Saturday November 11th
Why to Watch: Navy has already accepted its spot in the Meineke Car Car Bowl, but don't expect a letdown over a joke of a finishing kick playing four of the worst teams in the country, Duke last week in a 38-13 win, Eastern Michigan, Temple and Army. A ten-win season is more than possible with the nation's number one rushing offense rolling as well as ever even after losing starting quarterback Brian Hampton. Eastern Michigan is one of the nation's hard-luck teams losing two straight and
going 1-6 over the last seven weeks losing to Northwestern 14-6, to Central Michigan in overtime, to Bowling Green by three, Western Michigan by three, and this week, Ohio by six. Can the Eagles finally be on the right side of a tight game?
Why Navy Might Win: It's not hard to figure out what Navy needs to win: a bad run defense to go against. Eastern Michigan is 113th in the nation against the run with the back seven making way too many plays five to seven yards down the field. Against Navy, it might be more like seven to ten yards down the field with the Midshipmen all but certain to be able to pound the ball as much as it wants to early on before busting the big plays on the outside. Ohio's ground attack was able to crank out 278 yards last week; Navy might be closer to 400.
Why Eastern Michigan Might Win: The EMU defense might give up a ton of yards, but it's been great over the last few weeks of not getting down. The Eagles have enough of a passing game to potentially answer Navy scoring drives with some big plays of its own. While the attack hasn't been consistent and it wasn't been nearly explosive enough against Ohio last week, the pieces are there to catch lightning in a bottle like it did against Bowling Green when it threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
Who to Watch: Look for Ballard to kick it in over the final month of the year. Last year, he was one of the nation's most productive running backs late in the year rushing for 488 yards over his final three games, and now he should be option number one against the soft interiors of the final few teams. He rumbled 27 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns last week against Duke, breaking a streak of seven-straight games without a score. EMU sophomore LB Daniel Holtzclaw is one of the MAC's rising defensive stars and has to come up with at least 15 tackles.
What Will Happen: Eastern Michigan will get a few big pass plays, but Navy will hold the ball for at least 35 minutes rumbling at will.
CFN Prediction
: Navy 31 ... Eastern Michigan 16 .. Line: Navy -12
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause) ...

Temple (1-9) at Penn State (6-4)  3:30 PM EST ESPN+ Saturday November 11th
Why to Watch: The only drama will be whether or not Joe Paterno will return to the sidelines after getting rolled up on the sidelines in last weekend's loss to Wisconsin. Suffering a broken leg and two torn knee ligaments, he underwent successful surgery and will try to be out there this week in a wheelchair. Almost as painful was his team's performance in the 13-3 loss to the Badgers meaning it'll likely be stuck in the fourth spot in the bowl pecking order. Temple is playing better over the last few weeks finding an offense in a three-game swing against MAC teams and now gets to see just how much things have improved since getting blasted by Clemson a month ago.
Why Temple Might Win: The Owls won't win, but they might be able to keep things relatively close if Penn State's offense struggles like it has over the last several games. The offense isn't putting points on the board scoring only three touchdowns in the last four games getting help from the defense and special teams against Illinois. However ...
Why Penn State State Might Win: ... Temple's defense continues to be awful. The offense might be starting to find some playmakers, but there's not enough production to overcome allowing a nation's worst 40.7 points per game. The Nittany Lion passing game should take flight against an Owl secondary that hasn't slowed down even the most pedestrian of passing games getting bombed on by Northern Illinois and Central Michigan over the last few weeks. If Penn State doesn't finally get its offense back on track this week, it'll be time to sound the panic sirens.
Who to Watch: If Paterno can't be out there, or if he understandably tires and can't be out there for the entire game, will this be a bit of a dress rehearsal for defensive coordinator Tom Bradley if he gets to act as the head coach? He took over last week in the second half of the Badger game and might take a more active role this week. Don't be fooled; JoePa will still call all the shots.
What Will Happen: Penn State will get everything healthy with a light scrimmage against the Owls. The offense will get to stretch its legs a bit.
CFN Prediction
: Penn State 45 ... Temple 7 ...  Line: Penn State -35
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause) ... 1.5