College Football Predictions – Liberty Flames 2019 College Football Preview
Record – 6-6
ATS – 5-7
That was a pretty good start to the FBS era as the Flames managed to finish the campaign with a record of 6-6 and narrowly escape their first losing season since 2005 (!). They mopped the floor with Old Dominion in the season opener (W 52-10) and even managed to upset the JUGGERNAUT Troy Trojans (W 22-16).
Your old pal Hugh Freeze takes over the show and he has a career record of 49-27 as a head coach. We have a sneaky suspicion he will do good work with the Flames. Can they make a bowl game in 2019?
2019 MEGALOCKS Opening Power Rating
Independents – #4
Liberty Flames 2019 Outlook
The offense was really good a season ago and that was without the up-up-up tempo direction of offensive mastermind Hugh Freeze. Senior QB Steven Calvert threw for over 3,000 yards with 21 TD passes last year but did throw an UNSEEMLY 18 picks and completed just 55% of his throws. Calvert will put up good numbers but lots of INTs just might be his “thing”. The WR corps is experienced and talented and features a 1,000-yard receiver in Antonio Gandy-Golden (10 TD LY). The RB unit is deep as Frankie Hickson rushed for over 1,000 yards last yr (11 TDs) and Peytton Pickett rumbled for 9 scores. Josh Mack is an interesting option as well (transfer from Maine) and may be a SURPRISE PACKAGE should Hickson not be 100% to start the season (knee). The OL did a good job last season and returns three starters, whilst boasting plenty of size.
Liberty has put up 33 PPG in each of the last two seasons and we expect more of the same this year.
There are some good players on the stop unit but in order for this to be truly called a STOP UNIT they need to figure out how to STOP the run. The Flames have allowed 220+ YPG on the ground in each of the past two years and that makes it virtually impossible to not give up a ton of points (36.8 PPG LY, #117 FBS). There is hope on the horizon with their top-three leading tacklers back for battle including MLB Soloman Ajayi and a great pass-rushing specimen in DE Jessie Lemonier (10 sacks LY).
Rest assured, Hugh Freeze will upgrade the talent on defense in short order, but it’s unclear how much improvement we can expect this year.
It was a complete GREASE FIRE last season and we aren’t sure it will be much better in year one of the Hugh Freeze era. All key components are back and while we normally value experience, we would prefer to see some new blood take center stage. Let’s see what shakes out during fall camp.
Overall – It’s a mixed bag. There are some tough games (Syracuse, at BYU, at Virginia) and some very winnable games (Hampton, UMass, New Mexico, New Mexico St round one, New Mexico St round two). They have a tough three-game road trip late in season (see below).
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at BYU (November 9)
We sniffed out a LAY DOWN AND TAKE THE BEATING spot last year (L 53-ZIP to Auburn) and this feels like it could get messy. It’s their 3rd road game in three weeks and BYU is a really tough place to play. And oh boy, if there is bad weather…………..<checks to see if betting accounts are adequately funded>.
Season Win Total
Over 5.5 -140
Under 5.5 +120
That appears to be the right number. We’ll be pulling for them to get to bag six wins and become bowl eligible but it won’t be an easy task.
Liberty is the largest private non-profit university in the United States as measured by student enrollment. As of 2017, the university enrolled more than 15,000 students at its Lynchburg, Virginia campus and more than 94,000 students in online courses for a total of almost 110,000.
MEGALOCKS ATS Outlook: Neutral
This should be a fun team to follow this year. They are going to light up the scoreboard, but fear not if you like close games, as the defense may not be able to stop anyone. It might be a hasty assessment but that’s our quick take at the moment. They start the season with a pair of tough games (Syracuse, at Louisiana) that we will watch with interest.
From a betting perspective we will be cautious and try to pick our spots carefully. And hey, there’s always the ability to bet on totals.
Get to a bowl game, guys. Go Flames!
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