Ranking the Independent Football Programs in Recent Memory

This is the twentieth post in our 25-part Super Squad Series, recognizing the best programs over the last three years in every single Division I FBS & FCS Conference, as well as the upperclassmen & staff who’ve anchored them.

Jump to this week’s countdown

Full updated rankings after last week‘s rundown of the Missouri Valley programs:

Week 19 Super Squad Poster

About Super Squad Rating

Super Squad Ratings range 0-100, heavily-weighed toward zero. A 100.0 rating is only achievable for a team that finishes #1 in College Football all three years, with a 100+ power rating each year. The top three 2020 Super Squads rate in at 78, 57, and 47, respectively.

Best thought of as a notoriety score:
“How many normal people out of 100 should recognize this program’s success the last three years?”

EXAMPLE
Consider an SSR (Super Squad Rating) of 78 to abstractly mean that program deserves 78% of Americans’ attention.
Conversely a program with a 1.1 SSR would be worth the attention of only 11 out of 1,000 Americans.


For the second week straight, we’ve had a winner obvious enough that we decided to ask you yesterday for the runner-up. Choices below:

College Football Independents Poll
So obvious, in fact, that we asked you who you thought SECOND-best was in our weekly poll.

And you came through. The crowd got it right, check our poll or scroll this countdown for the answer.

First, congratulations to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for being our College Football Independents 2020 Super Squad Champions! Kudos to your entire program, especially the 49 young men who were on the roster each of these three years – 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20 – listed here:

CONGRATULATIONS Avery Davis, Troy Pride Jr., Tony Jones Jr., Jafar Armstrong, Donte Vaughn, Daelin Hayes, Chris Finke, Alohi Gilman, Ian Book, J.D. Carney, Cameron Ekanayake, Isaiah Robertson, Nolan Henry, Shaun Crawford, Jalen Elliott, Asmar Bilal, John Mahoney, Temitope Agoro, Arion Shinaver, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Patrick Pelini, Mick Assaf, Christopher Schilling, Jonathan Doerer, Brandon Garcia, Drew White, Kurt Hinish, Julian Okwara, Jamir Jones, Jonathan Jones, Kofi Wardlow, Jack Henige, Khalid Kareem, John Shannon, Trevor Ruhland, Colin Grunhard, Logan Plantz, Aaron Banks, Robert Hainsey, Liam Eichenberg, Josh Lugg, Dillan Gibbons, Tommy Kraemer, Chase Claypool, Cole Kmet, Javon McKinley, Brock Wright, Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa.

But before getting too ahead of ourselves, let’s count down their independent cohort from worst to first:


7th

#207 UMass Minutemen

2.5 Super Squad Rating

UMass Minutemen logos

Record:

9-27

Average Power:

35.1

Yearly Finish:

#178, #161, #253


6th

#202 New Mexico State Aggies

2.7 Super Squad Rating

New Mexico State Aggies logo

Record:

12-25 Overall
4-4 Sun Belt (2017)

Average Power:

37.9

Yearly Finish:

#161, #208, #222


5th

#164 North Dakota Fighting Hawks

3.6 Super Squad Rating

North Dakota Fighting Hawks logo

Record:

16-18 Overall
2-6 Big Sky (FCS, 2017)

Average Power:

45.3

Yearly Finish:

#195, #148, #137


4th

#145 Liberty Flames

4.0 Super Squad Rating

Liberty Flames logo

Record:

20-16 Overall
2-3 Big South (FCS, 2017)

Average Power:

48.1

Yearly Finish:

#154, #152, #123


3rd

#98 BYU Cougars

5.5 Super Squad Rating

BYU Cougars logo

Record:

18-21

Average Power:

54.8

Yearly Finish:

#179, #67, #70


2nd

#62 Army Black Knights

8.1 Super Squad Rating

Army Black Knights logo

Record:

26-13

Average Power:

62.4

Yearly Finish:

#48, #33, #116


WINNER

[Top 10] Notre Dame Fighting Irish

32.1 Super Squad Rating

Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo

Record:

33-6

Average Power:

84.7

Yearly Finish:

#7, #6, #8

Over the last three years, the Irish have found themselves consistently on the edge of playoff considerations.

In these considerations, their independent status proves both a blessing and curse for the program’s national standing. Their open schedule allows them to face more high-profile competitors; but it also denies them the validation of winning a competitive conference title.

Given the playoff opportunity in this squad’s best recent year, they fell decisively-short to the eventual National Champion Clemson Tigers 30-3 in the semifinal, putting a disappointing end to their until-then perfect 2018 season.

Outside of that sour end to an otherwise best-year, Notre Dame has had two bowl wins over very solid LSU (2017-18) and Iowa State (2019-20) programs.

Congratulations all Fighting Irish coaches, staff, administrators, players, and especially the 49 young men present on the roster all three years to earn this title!

Notre Dame Plaque Image

Super Squad Rankings

These are our up-to-date Division I Super Squad rankings after this week’s announced winner. Follow along as each Sunday we fill in more teams and announce our next Super Squad!

Week 20 Super Squad Poster


If you like our content and would like to support us, please consider following us on social media, sharing this post, or becoming a Patron via the link below:

Become a Patron!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.