Liberty (7-5) and Georgia Southern (7-5) head to Orlando to face-off in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl. Both teams did finish 2-2 down the stretch, so neither team is necessarily coming in “hot”to Orlando. However, Liberty should be fired up to be in their first ever bowl game. Hugh Freeze just signed a contract extension, and will be looking to finish off the season with a win. As of writing this, 54 percent are taking Liberty as 4-point underdogs, and 71 percent think the game will go over 59 points.
Date: Saturday, December 21, 2019
Time: 2:30 PM ET
Location: Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Liberty has been pretty successful on offense this season. They rank 20th in success rate and averaging 5.9 yards per play (39th). However, they have struggle to put points on the board with how solid their offense has been this season. Liberty averages 28.3 points per game (63rd), and rank 86th in red zone scoring. Fortunately, Georgia Southern has one of the worst red zone defenses in the country, so this deficiency shouldn’t have too much of an affect on them this Saturday. Also, Liberty has one of the most efficient rushing attacks in college football (14th). Their offensive line is pretty even against the Eagles front seven, but Georgia Southern hasn’t been great at stopping the run this season. The biggest edge might be in the passing game. The Flames passing games ranks 45th in success rate compared to the Eagles 86th ranked pass defense. Look for Liberty to have their way on offense.
The Flames defense gets to defend the triple option in their bowl game. Now, they have had a few weeks to prep for it, but this is a difficult task. However, Liberty’s defense ranks 72nd in defensive success rate, and Georgia Southern ranks 103rd, so they aren’t particularly good at running it. Also, their defensive line matches up well against the Eagles offensive line, and also against the Eagles rushing attack in terms of success rate. However, Liberty has struggled to defend explosive plays this season. Georgia Southern ranks 36th in explosiveness, so this could have an affect on the Flames defense late in the game. If Liberty gets worn down in the second half, then Georgia Southern should be able to break some big plays off to help their chances of victory.
Georgia Southern Analysis
Defending the triple option is one of the toughest things to do in college football. Georgia Southern is the only triple option team outside of the service academies. However, they aren’t the best at running it. They rank 103rd in offensive success rate, and 84th in rushing success. Also, there isn’t even an edge on the offensive line for the Eagles either. As tough as it is to defend, Liberty should have some success slowing them down on offense. However, Georgia Southern ranks 36th in explosive offense, and sixth in rushing explosiveness. Liberty does struggle to defend explosive plays as they rank 63rd overall and 54th in limiting rushing explosiveness. Earlier this season, the Eagles upset Appalachian State because they were able to exploit App State’s inability to defend explosive rushing plays. Now, Liberty’s defense isn’t as bad at defending them, but this is something to watch for as the game gets deep into the second half.
The Eagles defense is a little below average ranking 74th in success rate. Overall, they will have a tough time matching up against a Liberty offense that has done well this season. However, Georgia Southern is even with Liberty in explosiveness as the Eagles rank 58th in defending explosive plays, and Liberty ranks 52nd. Also, their defensive line should be able to hold their own against the Flames offensive line. Also, Georgia Southern ranks 34th in creating havoc, so it will be interesting to see if they’ll be able to do so on Saturday. However, they will probably struggle to defend Liberty’s rushing and passing attack. They rank 59th in limiting rushing success compared to Liberty rank 14th. Also, the Flames do have an edge on the Eagles in the pass game.
Betting Pick: Liberty +4
If you like Liberty getting the points, then I suggest looking at sprinkling some on the moneyline, as well. This is a huge game for Liberty. With their transition into the FBS, this was the only bowl they would’ve eligible to play in. Also, when they went to Division-I, the President of Liberty was willing to pay $24 million for them to join the Sun Belt and Conference USA. Both conferences said no. Head coach Hugh Freeze signed an extension after the season, and will be fired up to play a Sun Belt team in Georgia Southern. This game means more to the Flames, which means a lot when picking bowl games. I’ll gladly side with the dog here.