Jan 1, 2024 Fiesta Bowl – Liberty vs Oregon

Jan 1, 2024 Fiesta Bowl – Liberty vs Oregon

posted December 18

The Game

We’ve got an interesting Power Five vs Group of Five battle on NEW YEAR’S DAY as the Oregon Ducks take on the UNDEFEATED Liberty Flames down in Glendale, Arizona. The Ducks had their playoff dreams crushed in the PAC 12 Championship Game by Washington but they’ve destroyed pretty much everyone on their schedule other than the aforementioned Huskies who beat them twice. Liberty dominated Conference USA and roll into the desert with a perfect record of 13-0. Can they handle the major step up in class?

The Details

Oregon -17 Liberty (66)

MEGALOCKS LINE – Oregon -16.5

“Vegas” Implied Projected Score: Oregon 41.5 Liberty 24.5

Oregon offense vs Liberty defense

The Ducks rank #2 in the nation in total offense (527 YPG) and scoring offense (44 PPG) thanks in large part to the play of Heisman finalist Bo Nix who’ll make his final collegiate start in this game (4,145, 40-3 TD to INT; 6 rush TD). The Ducks will be playing shorthanded in this game as several key players have decided to quit/hit the portal/opt-out including 1,000-yard RB Bucky Irving, star center Jackson Powers-Johnson, and potentially one (or both) of their outstanding WR tandem (Franklin, Johnson) who’ve each eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau. They’ve got some talented doods waiting in the wings but that’s a lot of firepower to lose. Thankfully, Nix will still be at the controls, and the Flames’ defense was the beneficiary of playing a very weak collection of offenses. Liberty has the #21 rushing defense and #35 pass efficiency defense but they were able to move the ball at will and keep their defense off the field for long portions of games (#2 TOP, 34 min per game). Also note that Liberty is #1 (!) in the country in INTs (21) and Bo Nix doesn’t turn the ball over very often (3 INT in 435 ATT).

Liberty offense vs Oregon defense

The Flames absolutely ripped apart the competition this season and they did it behind the arm of QB Kaidon Salter (31-5 TD to INT) and a devastating rushing attack that leads the FBS (303 YPG) (!). Salter is a deadly dual-threat specimen who’s already rushed for over 1,000 yards as has RB Quinton Cooley (1,322, 16 TD). The Flames hit a lot of big plays in the THROW GAME as their top-four WRs ALL average 19+ YPC. Yes, these stats were compiled vs a weak slate of opponents, but there’s no doubt that Oregon will have their hands full trying to control the Flames’ offense and they won’t be able to sleepwalk thru this game. Oregon was very strong on defense this season, particularly vs the run (#11 run D, 98 YPG) so this will be a fascinating match-up to watch unfold during the game. Oregon will be missing some starters on the defensive side of the football but they still have the athletes and scheme to match up well with Liberty.

Trends, Intangibles and More!

The Ducks have navigated the #40 schedule according to the Sagarin ratings whilst Liberty has played a collection of stiffs (#134; 133 teams in the FBS)……Motivation clearly favors the Flames as they get a chance to SHOCK the WORLD and you have to think that this is one of the last places Oregon wanted to be when they were plotting things out during the summer months.


We’ll wait until all the dust settles and see who’s in or out for Oregon. They’re the only way we could look in this game and maybe some additional guys quit and we get to lay less than -17 ?


No leanage for now.

‘Official play’ implies this pick is one of our favorites of the week (perceived value, match-up, coaching, trends, etc.). We’re currently playing these picks for the same amount as the leans but it’s up to you how you want to manage your bankroll. Please see the Week in Review posts for more detail.

‘Lean’ implies we are placing a wager on the game.

‘No leanage’ implies we won’t have any action on the game.

Team totalsWe list the implied number based on the point spread and total when our analysis is posted. If a team total ends up being an official play we will post a widely available number at the time of pick release.