Independents Betting Odds: 2012 Notre Dame, Navy, BYU, Army Previews

Apr. 21, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly yells at quarterback Andrew Hendrix (12) in the first quarter of the spring game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

The number of independent college football programs remains at four for this season - and will for the next couple of seasons - before Navy joins the Big East for 2015.

Last year just two of the four independents made a bowl game. This year, all four indies have good shots to play in bowls.

Here's a quick look at college football's independent teams for this season, with college football futures betting odds for each team.

Notre Dame had 17 starters back last season, but could only go 8-5. The Irish lost their first two games, at home to South Florida and a gut-wrencher at Michigan, won four in a row, then lost to USC. The Golden Domers then won four more in a row but finished the season with a loss at Stanford and another in a bowl to Florida State.

This year Notre Dame returns 14 starters, led by 1,200-yard rusher Cierre Wood, and they should field their best team under Coach Kelly. But they'll have their hands full with a brutal schedule. The Irish open the season across the Pond vs. Navy in Ireland, later play road games at Michigan State, Oklahoma and USC, and have home dates with Michigan, Stanford, BYU and Pitt. They also take on Miami in Chicago.

Most sportsbooks tagged Notre Dame with a regular-season wins 'over/under' of 8.5 (over +150/under-180), while others are offering a price of +2500 on the Irish winning the BCS championship.

Brigham Young rebounded from a 7-6 campaign in 2010 to go 10-3 last year, winning its last four in a row, including a bowl game over Tulsa. This year the Cougars return 14 starters, led by senior QB Riley Nelson, and seven on defense, including last year's top five tacklers. The schedule is tough, but not overwhelming, with games at Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, and home dates with Washington State and Oregon State.

Vegas has lined the Cougs with a regular-season wins 'over/under' of 8.5 (over +100/under -130), while offering BYU at +17500 to win the BCS title this season.

Navy only had 10 starters back last year and had to replace record-setting QB Ricky Dobbs. The inexperience showed, as the Midshipmen went 5-7, breaking a streak of eight-straight winning seasons. But along the way the Middies lost three games by a field goal and two more by one point each. So 5-7 could have easily been 7-5 or better.

This year Navy gets back 13 starters, including seven on defense, but they lose last year's top two rushers, including the starting QB. The Middies open the season in Ireland vs. Notre Dame, then visit Penn State. But after that they've got five very winnable home games and two or three winnable road games. So Navy appears to have a good chance to get back to a bowl.

Vegas shops are listing the Middies with a regular-season wins 'over/under' of 6.5 (over -145/under +115).

Two seasons ago Army broke a 15-year bowl drought. But last year the Black Knights only returned 10 starters, and lost their last four games in a row to finish 3-9.

This year Army gets 15 starters back, including senior QB Trent Steelman, 1,000-yard rusher Raymond Maples and eight on defense. And the schedule is manageable, with six home games and just four road games.

The big one, of course, for this program comes Dec. 8 in Philadelphia, when the Knights will shoot to end a 10-game losing streak vs. Navy. Last year, in the closest Army-Navy game in a decade, the Cadets were only down by one score in the final minutes and drove inside the Middies' 30-yard line before being stopped on downs.

Many shops tracked by Odds Shark have pegged the Knights with a regular-season wins 'over/under' of 5.5 (over -150/under +120).

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