We are less than 3 months until football season, and that means it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2018 schedule. In it’s first season as an FBS member, the Flames have 9 games against first time opponents and will face 6 teams that reached a bowl game this past season.
09/15 vs Norfolk State
With the Flames now enjoying a full slate of FBS games, the biannual matchups with FCS teams over the next 3 years become must-wins. The Spartans could become a frequent opponent as they are an in-state and traditionally weaker FCS team. Liberty is 1-1 against Norfolk State under Coach Gill, knocking the Spartans off 17-0 in Norfolk in 2014. NSU is coming off a 4-7 2017 campaign, and will be facing Liberty in the 2nd part of a 2 week gauntlet as they square off against James Madison and the FBS Flames.
10/20 vs Idaho State
The 2nd FCS matchup of the season will be the first ever meeting between Idaho State and the Flames. The Bengals will seek to pull off its 2nd FBS upset in as many seasons as they knocked off Nevada in 2017. ISU finished 2017 with a 4-7 overall mark and 2-6 record in Big Sky play. Liberty isn’t the only FBS team the Bengals face in 2018, as they also face California in September. 2017 FBS member and 2018 FCS and Big Sky foe Idaho returns to ISU’s schedule this season as well.
09/01 vs Old Dominon
This game can’t possibly get here soon enough. The first ever Liberty game as an FBS member against an in-state, hopefully soon to be FBS rival. All taking place in the beautiful newly expanded Williams Stadium. ESPN’s FPI gives Liberty a 48.9% chance at a win, the true definition of a “toss-up.”
The Lobos were just 3-9 in 2017, but will be facing the Flames after coming off a bye week and with Liberty having to travel across the country. New Mexico is led by former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie who is entering his 7th season with the program and sports a 30-45 record at New Mexico.
10/06 @ New Mexico State
11/24 vs New Mexico State
Have two FBS teams ever faced each other twice in the same regular season? The Flames and Aggies will do so in both 2018 and 2019 as the two Independent schools try maintain full FBS schedules. Liberty has also released its full 2020 and 2021 schedules, but New Mexico State is not on either. New Mexico State is coming off a 7-6 campaign which included a win over Utah State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
11/03 @ UMass
Fellow Independent UMass, will become one of the most common opponents the Flames play in the near future. In fact, the Minutemen are the only team Liberty has inked on its schedule every year through 2025. UMass is coming off a 4-8 season that featured losses in their first 6 games, but the Minutemen rebounded to win 4 of their final 6 contests including a win over BYU.
09/08 @ Army
The first of 8 first-time opponents on Liberty’s schedule this season (technically 9 if counting NMSU twice), Army is coming off an impressive 10-3 campaign in 2017. 5th year head coach Jeff Monkey and the Black Knights feature a vaunted triple option offensive attack. Former Liberty assistant coach Chad Wilt is currently on staff at Army.
09/22 vs North Texas
One of only 3 teams to defeat Army in 2017, North Texas is coming off a trip to the New Orleans Bowl following their West Division Conference USA championship. 3rd year head coach Seth Littrell will be looking to take the Mean Green to its 3rd straight bowl appearance.
10/13 vs Troy
The team that beat North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl, Troy, will meet Liberty in October. The Trojans finished 2017 as Co-Champions of the Sun Belt with an 11-2 overall record. 4th year head coach Neal Brown has led Troy to 21 wins and a 2-0 bowl record over the past 2 seasons.
11/10 @ Virginia
In 2017, Virginia ended a 6 year bowl drought by advancing to the Military Bowl where they were defeated by Navy, 49-7. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall is hoping to lead the Cavaliers to its 2nd straight bowl appearance for the first time since 2005.
Need a miracle
11/17 @ Auburn
Liberty’s first ever meeting with an SEC opponent will take place in Jordan-Hare Stadium this November. The game is sandwiched between Auburn’s trips to Georgia and Alabama to finish their regular season slate. The Tigers finished 2017 ranked in the top 10 and are again ranked in the top 10 in most publications heading into the 2018 season.
We asked you on social media how many wins you thought Liberty might scrap together in 2018, and from all of your responses your average win total is 4.1. As we’ve mentioned previously, ESPN’s FPI predicts 4.5 wins for the Flames.