The three independents might have some company in 2011. However, for 2010, it is just the three regulars: Notre Dame, Army, and Navy.
1. Who will be the best team? Navy Midshipmen. The Middies have been consistent winners for seven years now. The loss of Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate at Notre Dame will keep the Naval Academy ahead of the Fighting Irish for at least one more year.
2. Who is the top returning player? Michael Floyd, Notre Dame. Despite missing five and a half games due to injury in 2009, Floyd totaled 795 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. In the seven games he did play, he had over 100 yards receiving five times.
3. Which team will be the most improved? Notre Dame Fighting Irish. After three years of sub par play, Brian Kelly will shake things up enough to get Notre Dame back to a bowl with momentum for greater things in 2011.
4. What will be the biggest surprise? Navy will not win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Like all good things, Navy's seven year run winning this award will come to an end. Air Force will win the award this year.
5. Which coach is on the hottest seat? Rich Ellerson, Army. Ellerson is the de facto answer here. With Brian Kelly new at Notre Dame, and Ken Niumatalolo thriving at Navy, there is no other choice. Ellerson finished 5-7 in 2009, his first year on the job, which was a step up from 3-9 the year before.