The number of schools playing as Independents climbs back up to four in 2005, matching the total of 2003 before Troy State and Connecticut began conference affiliation. Army and Temple are the latest programs to join the independent ranks, with the Black Knights leaving Conference USA and the Owls having departed the Big East. Neither team enjoyed the stay in its respective conference, so each will be looking for a fresh start in 2005. Perhaps independence is just what the doctor ordered for both. Meanwhile, Navy comes off its best season in decades having won 10 games, including a 34-19 Emerald Bowl decision over New Mexico. The Midshipmen may be headed for rebuilding though, as several of the stars of that team have been lost to graduation. Finally, in South Bend, a new era begins as Charlie Weis takes over for Tyrone Willingham after the Irish struggled to a 6-6 finish in 2004. The magic of WillinghamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s first season in 2002 quickly wore off and he was ousted after just three short years. Notre Dame, and NBC for that matter, badly need for a quick turnaround for the nationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s most visible football program. As usual, the Irish do themselves no favors with a murdererÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s row schedule. At the end of the season, itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a strong possibility that not a single team of the four independents will be playing in a bowl game.
Play On: Michigan State 9/17
This is the IrishÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s first home game under new Coach Weis and should be revved up after two tough road games. With all 11 starters back on offense, Notre Dame should take out the Spartans in their only home game in the first five contests of 2005.
Play Against: Tennessee 11/5
Off last yearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s upset in Knoxville, the highly ranked Vols will want to turn the tables on Notre Dame. The Irish are only 11-18 ATS in November.
Play On: @ Notre Dame 11/12
Navy has lost 41 consecutive games to Notre Dame. (NCAA record) The Midshipmen have sunk the Irish 11 of 15 times against the spread.
Play Against: neutral site- Maryland 9/3
With only two offensive starters back for Navy, that spells trouble against the fast starting Terps. The neutral site decreases value towards the Midshipmen.
Play On: @ Wisconsin 9/10
With forced upon independent status for Temple, the Owls travel to Madison. Temple is 12-4 ATS off a presumed loss and 21-12-1 ATS under Co. Wallace.
Play Against: Toledo 9/17
The Rockets can explode with points on the scoreboard. Temple is 1-9 ATS against MAC schools.
Play On: Cent. Michigan 10/8
This is the most winnable game to start the new era of Independence for the Cadets. The Black Knights are 10-4 SU and 8-3 ATS against the MAC.
Play Against: @ Air Force 11/5
The visitor is 6-15 ATS in this service academy contest. Army is an awful 1-15 against the number off a bye.