The Flames begin their 2016 season today in Blacksburg against the Hokies as massive underdogs, 31.5 point underdogs to be exact. While a Liberty win is improbable, it certainly isn’t impossible. Here are a few things Liberty must do in order to pull off the biggest win in program history.
1 – Survive the First Half
We saw it on Thursday night when Appalachian St almost upset Tennessee; the longer an underdog can stay with the favorite, the better chance they have to win. If the Flames can stick with the Hokies into the second half, Tech will start to feel nervous and play tight. More importantly, Liberty will gain confidence the longer they can stay even with Tech. Last year against West Virginia, the Flames got behind 27-0 and never had a chance to get in the game. They must get off to a better start tomorrow. I really believe that if Liberty can keep it a one score game going into the halftime break, they’ll have a chance to win.
2 – Play Loose
Liberty has nothing to lose in this game. Virginia Tech has everything to lose. It’s their first game with a new coach, a new quarterback, a new era. They absolutely cannot start off with a loss to an FCS team. This is the biggest game in Liberty’s history, but that shouldn’t intimidate them. They should enjoy every second of it. They get to play one of the great college football programs in one of the most historic stadiums in the country. Not everyone gets to say that had that opportunity. So enjoy it. Have some fun. Soak in the experience. Virginia Tech is the team that should be nervous, because they have a lot more to lose. Play loose, and good things will happen.
3 – Win the Mental Game
Virginia Tech has the better team, and they should win this game. If Liberty is to win, they absolutely have to win the mental aspect of the game. This means committing fewer penalties, winning the turnover battle, and simply keeping their heads in the game at all times. We’ve seen Virginia Tech lose this type of game before, so it’ll in the back of their minds. In 2010, they were ranked 13th in the nation, but lost 21-16 to James Madison in Lane Stadium. They lost the mental game that day, and it cost them the game. Liberty needs to capitalize on the Hokies mistakes. For the Flames, play aggressive, but also play smart.