Independent 2021 Season Preview

Rush Nation, I promised you an Independent 2021 season preview. Well, here it is. What will the 2021 look like for the seven independent programs playing college football in 2021?

Independent 2021 Season Preview


2020 Record: 9-3

Bowl Game: Lost Liberty Bowl v. West Virginia (24-21)

In an unprecedented 2020 season, Army were due to compete in the Independence Bowl before it was cancelled. Due to the pandemic, they replaced Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl. The Black Knights also secured their ninth Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy after defeating Navy and Air Force. They also picked up the Lambert Trophy for being the best team in the East in Division I FBS football.

Players to watch out for in 2021 are Marquel Broughton (Safety), Fabrice Voyne (LB) and Ryan Duran (DL).

Prediction: Bowl inevitable, Commander-In-Chief Trophy no question.


2020 Record: 11-1

Bowl Game: Won Boca Raton Bowl v. Central Florida (49-23)

The Cougars go into 2021 with Kalani Sitake six years into his reign, but there is a void left by the players departing ot the NFL. Wilson, Christensen, Tonga, Wilcox, Milne, Warner and Kaufisi are all gone. Offensive linemen James Empey is coming back from injury, it looks likely he will be named team captain and he could be the leader they need for 2021. Tyler Allgeier rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his sophomore season and is an inspiring character within the team. It is at quarterback, that void left by Wilson, where the question marks remain. Who starts?

Prediction: I don’t see them being able to replicate 2020 and feel this could be a tough year.


2020 Record: 10-1

Bowl Game: Won Cure Bowl v. Coastal Carolina (37-34)

Liberty have 20 returning starters this season, including their entire offensive line which should help their dynamic quarterback Malik Willis. He has Noah Frith returning as a dominant weapon to go to and on defense TreShaun Clark could be the stand-out again.

They have a tough schedule this year, seeing out the season against Ole Miss, Louisiana and Army.

Prediction: If the dice fall well, another Bowl appearance is on the cards.

New Mexico State

2020 Record: N/A

Bowl Game: N/A

The Aggies suspended football operations last season due to the Covid pandemic. They have competed in two pre-season games early this year, and we’re surprisingly beaten by FCS team Tarleton State before beating Dixie State.

It is going to be a difficult season for the Aggies. Jason Huntley is a rare bright spot on what appears to be a team with few decent options available. There are question marks over the quarterback room, the line and the receiving department.

Prediction: Going to be hard not to see anything but a losing record this year.

Notre Dame

2020 Record: 10-2

Bowl Game: Lost Rose Bowl v. Alabama (31-14)

There are significant losses to this team who reached the Rose Bowl in 2020, both on the coaching side and the playing side. That said, the players who are standing out at present are Kyren Williams (RB), the returning Jarrett Patterson (OT) and Kyle Hamilton (FS).

It is difficult to contemplate a 10-2 season again and it may be that the Fighting Irish are at least a season away from a playoff appearance.

Prediction: Bowl appearance on the cards, no playoff this year.


2020 Record: N/A

Bowl Game: N/A

Randy Edsall has his work cut out with the Huskies. A year on from opting out, a first year as an independent. The receiving room returns (with the exception of Ardell Brown) and they lose Art Thompkins in the backfield. Offensively, it does not appear they are going to trouble any teams and things are not that much better on defense. The plus player would be OT Ryan Van Demark for the Huskies.

It is going to be a struggle in 2021 for the Huskies who open up their schedule at Fresno State and finish it entertaining Houston.

Prediction: No bowl game, a transitional season for The Huskies.


2020 Record: N/A

Bowl Game: N/A

The Minutemen lost four games of the 2020 season before cancelling their football schedule due to Covid. Losses to Georgia Southern, Marshall, Florida Atlantic and Liberty was hardly the season they had hoped for in any case.

In the games they did play in 2020, UMass rolled through different quarterback structures and ultimately struggled to protect any passer that was put under centre. They were unable to effect a decent run game and the receiving game was not great. On defense they struggled also, allowing 40 points per game in the matches they did compete.

There is a tough season ahead for the Minutemen who open up their season at Pittsburgh and then entertain Boston College.

Prediction: Nothing to write home about this year.

I’ve been Simmo. This has been my Independent 2021 season preview. Check out my work over @5yardcollege on Twitter!

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