Writing a projected finish for the Independents in the FBS right now is probably the easiest gig on the planet. There are only four schools that are Independent entering the 2016 season and, if we are honest, the order in which the four will finish is, on paper at least, pretty obvious.
Notre Dame is one of the best teams in the country entering the season and in DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire they have two of the premier quarterbacks playing college football. They will be featured in the top half of any preseason top 10 list you see regardless of conference.
Next up is BYU. The Cougars are not the team they were a few years ago, but they are a solid top 50 program that might not be an Independent for much longer if the Big XII has its way. At the bottom of the four is going to be UMass. The Minutemen are one of the worst, if not the worst, teams in the country.
This leaves Army as the obvious choice at number three. The Black Knights are a top 100 team for sure, but not in the top 75 at this point. Thus when USA Today compiled their Independent rankings Army slotted in right where it would be expected.
The more interesting part of this article then is the preseason all-conference team USA Today has put together. The Black Knights have one player chosen on offense (WE Edgar Poe), but maybe surprisingly there are four Army players chosen for the defensive unit. DE John Voit, LB Jeremy Timpf, LB Andrew King, and CB Brandon Jackson all made the grade, giving Army two more players on defense than BYU and just one less than the vaunted Notre Dame team.
The preseason report also names the best unit per position and as expected this list is again dominated by the Irish. Interesting though the award for the best group of linebackers goes to the Black Knights, noting that Army has a couple of highly underrated defenders at the second level in the aforementioned Timpf and King.
It will be interesting to look back at this article at the end of the season and see which of the Black Knightd players over or under performed given their preseason expectations.