Preseason Power Rankings: Independents

Please note that power rankings are meant to rank teams based on current team strength on a neutral field. It is not necessarily a projection of where I think teams will finish or who has a better resume. It is forward thinking but does not factor in strength of schedule, schedule breakdown, etc.

ICYMI Other Conference Preseason Power Rankings:

Big Ten
Big 12
Pac 12

2021 FBS Independents Preseason Power Rankings

  1. Notre Dame: After a one year stint in the ACC, Notre Dame is back as an Independent. They have to replace 9 NFL draft picks including their QB Ian Book. Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan figures to take over at QB. I think this team will take a slight step back from last year’s playoff team but is still a fringe Top 10 team Nationally. Brian Kelly is a very good coach but the schedule is pretty challenging.
  2. Liberty: Hugh Freeze did a great job last year leading Liberty to a 10-1 record which included a win at Virginia Tech and a bowl win against Coastal Carolina. Malik Willis was an awesome dual threat QB last year (141-944-14 rushing & 170-265-2260-20-6 passing) and is back again this year. They have 20 returning starters and a fairly easy schedule. It picks up a little bit at the end with the last 3 games being @ Ole Miss, vs. Louisiana, and vs Army. This team could flirt with being undefeated again this year.
  3. BYU: The Cougars are coming off an 11-1 season, but they are losing stud QB Zack Wilson. In fact, they are dead last in Bill Connelly’s returning production rankings. Phil Steele lists Jacob Conover as the starting QB this year, but I’ve been hearing it will be Baylor Romney. We’ll have to wait and see on that one. RB Tyler Allgeier and WR Gunner Romney Jr. are both back this year and both had big 2020 seasons. The schedule is back to normal this year after 2020 forced them to scramble to find opponents. I like the culture at BYU. Even though they are losing a lot from last year’s team, I’m not ready to write them off this year.
  4. Army: Army is another independent that had a nice season last year. They finished 9-3 with a close bowl loss to West Virginia. Jeff Monken is a good coach that gets the most out of his players. You can never take Army lightly as they have a roster full of high character, motivated players. They do run the triple option as a way to try and limit the talent gap that may exist between them and some other teams. They are a more experienced team than last year but the schedule is a lot tougher than last year’s Covid schedule with teams like Wisconsin, Wake Forest, Ball State, and Liberty on the schedule this year.
  5. Connecticut: Pick whatever order you want for these last 3 teams. They’re all bottom 5 FBS teams Nationally in my opinion. UConn didn’t play any football in 2020 so they are a little hard to place but they are returning 14 starters and added a few transfers from the 2019 team. They did beat UMass by 21 points in 2019 so I guess I’ll give them the nod here. Instead of playing football last season they got 25 practices in and 3-4 weight lifting sessions each week. Maybe they will be fresh? I wouldn’t plan on betting them any time soon.
  6. New Mexico State: The Aggies didn’t play last Fall but did play two games against FCS opponents in the Spring. Fun Fact: the very first bet I made in MikeyLoBets history was New Mexico State moneyline this Spring against Tarleton State. I figured an FBS team had to be able to handle an FCS team that had been a DII team the year before and was without their starting QB due to Covid. I was wrong… Tarleton won 43-17. So I don’t have a great taste in my mouth regarding New Mexico State. They play at Alabama this year so it gets a lot harder than Tarleton State.
  7. Massachusetts: UMass went 0-4 last season losing by an average score of 40-3. They allowed 482 yards per game and gained only 188 yards per game themselves. They are still a very young team and have a couple of FCS teams on their schedule, but FBS wins are going to be tough to come by this year. Mark your calendar for UMass @ New Mexico State on November 27th…. Somebody has to win!

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