The seven college football teams that are classified as FBS Independents make for a fascinating group as you have some top-end programs in Notre Dame and BYU, but also some awful squads in UMass and UConn. Of course, this group will change in 2023 when Liberty heads to Conference USA and BYU goes to the Big 12. The big question is if the Fighting Irish will ever leave the comforts of independence. As of now, the answer is no, but could that change with more realignment.
(Win totals provided by Draftkings)
Army West Point (Over 8 -115...Under 8 -105)
Schedule Notes: Interesting start to the 2022 campaign with a road trip to play Grayson McCall and Coastal Carolina. Oct. 8 is the rematch of the wild 70-56 2021 contest against Wake Forest although this time it's in Winston-Salem. The Black Knights have just four true road games and should be able to rack up the wins overall.
QB: Tyhier Tyler
Roster Notes: The triple option should be rolling this season with Tyler under center and the returning 1-2 punch of running backs Tyree Robinson and Jakobi Buchanan, who has yet to be tackled for a loss on a carry in his career. The top three receivers return, but we know they don't get used much. The OL has to replace a few starters, but still should be good. Andre Carter II leads the defense and is playing for his draft status as he's on every NFL scout's radar. The rest of the unit is solid all the way around especially in the secondary.
Prediction: Love the over here. I can easily see 10 wins.
BYU (Over 8.5 +115...Under 8.5 -135)
Schedule Notes: The Cougars never run away from a tough schedule with this year's slate including Baylor and Arkansas at home as well as road trips to Oregon, Boise State and Stanford. There's also a neutral-site game against Notre Dame in Las Vegas as well as an FCS contest against Utah Tech, which was formerly Dixie State.
QB: Jaren Hall
Roster Notes: There are 19 combined starters back so this should be one of the best BYU teams in recent years, which is saying something. Hall is a strong quarterback who tossed 20 touchdown passes to just five interceptions in 2021. Cal transfer Christopher Brooks pairs off nicely with Lopina Katoa in the backfield while Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua are a potent WR duo. All this behind an offensive line that could be a top-20 unit nationally. The defense struggled last year against the more legit opponents so having 11 starters back means nothing if there's no improvement.
Prediction: Solid number as I can see 8-9 wins potentially here.
Liberty (Over 6.5 -125...Under 6.5 +105)
Schedule Notes: The Flames have four of their first six on the road and feature a slate with plenty of big names. They travel to Wake Forest and Arkansas while hosting Virginia Tech, BYU and UAB. There is a decent closing stretch with four of their final six at home.
QB: Utah transfer Charlie Brewer
Roster Notes: It's the Flames' last season as an independent before joining Conference USA. They have seven starters back on offense, but that doesn't include quarterback Malik Willis, a third-round pick in this year's NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. Brewer has been in college football for a while, starting his career at Baylor before transferring to Utah, and he has some solid WR depth in Demario Douglas, CJ Daniels, CJ Yarbrough, and Campbell transfer Caleb Snead. The offensive line picked up a couple of solid transfers too. The defense has just four returning starters, but TreShaun Clark is one of them and he's fantastic on the defensive line.
Prediction: Lean to the over as I could see seven wins.
New Mexico State (Over 3 EVEN...Under 3 -120)
Schedule Notes: The road figures to be very unkind to the Aggies this season as they play at Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri. They have four home games in a row (Sept. 24-Oct. 22) with a bye in the middle of this stretch.
QB Battle: Weston Eget vs. Dino Maldonado vs. Diego Pavia
Roster Notes: Former Northern Illinois/Minnesota/TCU (interim) head coach Jerry Kill is replacing Doug Martin, who went 25-74 in nine seasons at NMSU. The starting QB is still unknown and the leading rusher from last season transferred to Syracuse. The top three receivers also left, leaving this offense in a very bad spot. The defense has nine starters back, but this is a unit that allowed nearly 500 yards per game in 2021. The defensive line isn't bad, but it won't matter if the secondary can't cover anyone.
Prediction: I see just a couple (2-3) of wins, so slight lean to the under.
Notre Dame (Over 8.5 -130...Under 8.5 +110)
Schedule Notes: The season starts off with a bang in Columbus against Ohio State. The slate ends with a trip to historic rival USC. In between, the schedule is relatively manageable with an interesting trip to Las Vegas to play BYU. There are just four true road games overall.
QB: Tyler Buchner
Roster Notes: It's Marcus Freeman's first full season as head coach after he lost the Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma State last year. Both sides of the ball have plenty of starters returning led by TE Michael Mayer, who had seven touchdowns and is arguably the best at his position in the sport. Running back Kyren Williams is gone, but Chris Tyree should be able to take over behind an offensive line that is very strong. First-round pick Kyle Hamilton is gone from the secondary but the Irish added Northwestern transfer Brandon Joseph to help fill the void at safety. The front seven should be very good.
Prediction: I like the over here. Notre Dame has four tough games (at Ohio State, vs. BYU, Clemson, at USC). Win just one of those and it's an over.
UConn (Over 2.5 +120...Under -140)
Schedule Notes: The Huskies get three of their final four tilts at home, but that comes after four of five on the road. Among the road trips are games at Michigan, NC State and Army. They do get Syracuse, Boston College and Fresno State at home.
QB: Penn State transfer Ta'Quan Roberson
Roster Notes: Jim Mora took the job in Storrs hoping to bring some sort of legitimacy to this team. There are plenty of starters back on both sides of the ball, but does it matter if the team went 1-11? Things can only improve after the offense finished dead last on third down and second to last in yards per pass play. There's just not a lot of talent at the skill positions. Defensively the secondary is intact and the linebackers should be solid, but there could be issues up front.
Prediction: I see 2-3 wins so this is a good number.
UMass (Over 2.5 +125...Under 2.5 -145)
Schedule Notes: The Minutemen begin with four of their first five on the road, but then have three straight at home. The streaky slate finishes with three of the team's final four on the road. Among the road trips are Toledo and Texas A&M with home matchups against Buffalo and Army.
QB Battle: Brady Olson vs. Zamar Wise vs. Garrett Dzuro
Roster Notes: Don Brown is back for his second stint at UMass (was head coach from 2004-08), and the 67-year-old football lifer has a lot of work ahead of him. His reputation is as a defensive coordinator but he inherits a team that struggled mightily on that side of the ball last year (126th nationally in scoring offense, 123rd in total and passing offense) and must identify the right quarterback to have any hope of improving. Ellis Merriweather is back at running back after posting more than 1,100 yards on the ground last season. Brown's impact should be felt on a defense that produced just 11 sacks last year but that doesn't mean there won't be a lot of bumps along the way. Six of the seven tacklers are back from a unit that surrendered 485 yards per game and finished last in the nation in scoring defense (43.1 ppg) in 2021.
Prediction: Slight lean to the under, but not at -145.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.