2024 FBS Independent Season Predictions: Can Notre Dame Seal Their Date With Destiny?

    While UConn and UMass shoot for bowl eligibility, do the FBS Independents season predictions point to a playoff date for Notre Dame?

    The FBS Independent ranks have been whittled away once more. After losing multiple teams to a conference last season, the Army Black Knight’s desertion to the AAC leaves just three programs out here doing their own thing. The FBS Independents season predictions examine how those teams will perform in 2024.

    FBS Independents Season Predictions for 2024

    It’s never too early to preview the season ahead, and FanDuel has posted the current odds for projected regular-season wins from each FBS Independent team. While the UConn Huskies and UMass Minutemen will draw interest from college football die-hards, the eyes of the nation will be on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they try to punch a ticket to the College Football Playoff.

    FBS Independents Season Predictions – Regular-Season Win Totals

    • Notre Dame: 10.5 wins
    • UConn: 4.5 wins
    • UMass: 3.5 wins

    Notre Dame heads into the third year of the Marcus Freeman era with its sights firmly set on a spot in the expanded 12-team playoff. Being independent no longer carries the penalty of non-conference affiliation when trying to penetrate the final four. Under the new rule, the Fighting Irish would have qualified for the postseason tournament in three of the past six campaigns.

    The Notre Dame win total is set at 10.5 wins, which the program has finished above multiple times in the last decade. However, they’ve not won more than 10 games under Freeman and face the 41st most difficult calendar according to the CFN Strength of Schedule. Games against the Texas A&M Aggies, USC Trojans, and Florida State Seminoles will define their win-loss record.

    While the program saw significant player losses this offseason — to the transfer portal and NFL — they still boast a strong roster capable of competing with the best in the nation. Riley Leonard arrives from Duke and has a plethora of weapons to distribute the ball to, including returning wide receiver Jaden Greathouse and incoming transfers Kris Mitchell and Beaux Collins.

    Meanwhile, they’ll be defensively strong once more, having finished 2023 with the seventh-ranked scoring defense. RJ Oben’s arrival boosts a defensive front led by Howard Cross III and Rylie Mills. The importance of Jack Kiser’s return at linebacker can’t be understated, and the secondary boasts two of the best in the nation in Benjamin Morrison and Xavier Watts.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Strength of Schedule for All 134 FBS Teams

    The early FBS Independents season predictions put UConn at 4.5 wins, a mark they’ve surpassed just twice in the last decade. After an impressive 2022 campaign with bowl eligibility in the first year under Jim Mora, the Huskies returned to earth with a three-win season last time out. Buoying their bid is a CFN Strength of Schedule, one of the easiest in the country.

    Several Power Five arrivals boost a roster that lost talent over the offseason. Nick Evers, a former four-star high school prospect, takes the reins under center after spells at Oklahoma and Wisconsin, but the offense should run through talented running back Victor Rosa. Former USC and Tulsa LB Julien Simon leads the defensive additions after an impressive 2023 outing.

    Entering their final season without conference affiliation, UMass prop up the FBS Independents season predictions on the back of their best season since 2018. The Minutemen will be a MAC outfit in 2025, but can they end their time as an independent in style? Surpassing 3.5 wins would tie their best record since returning to the FBS in 2012.

    Losing running back Kay’ron Adams hurts, but Don Brown’s team returns starter Taisun Phommachanh and highly-rated young gun Ahmad Haston to the QB room, as well as leading receiver Anthony Simpson. Nose tackle Billy Wooden will be hard to replace, but Aaron Beckwith steps into the breach after his best season to date, and Jaylen Hudson arrives to provide pressure.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

    Related Articles