Liberty is 7-0, ranked in the Top 25, just signed a huge contract extension with Hugh Freeze, and has a QB which is generating some dark horse Heisman hype right now after an incredible game last week which saw the Flames walk out of Blacksburg victors. With everything going right for the Flames, it would be pretty easy to get overconfident and look past an FCS foe like Western Caroline who is playing their first game of the season. The Flames are 32.5 point favorites against the Catamounts and ESPN gives them a 98.7% chance of winning the game. However, let us not forget that the Flames were similar point favorites against Northern Alabama and Southern Miss, yet the Flames entered halftime only up 7 against UNA (they rallied to win 28-7), and 21 unanswered points by SO Miss in the Third Quarter allowed the Golden Eagles to pull within 7 before the Flames steadied themselves to pull off a 56-35 victory. Although Liberty should have no problem crushing Western Carolina on Saturday, they can’t come in with that mindset. Liberty just needs to play this game like its 0-0 against VT all the way through the fourth to ensure that the Flames are able to secure their 8th win of the season in what should be dominant fashion.


Not to undermine the first key, but Liberty should have no problem winning this game, and that being said, Liberty is going to want to limit to the maximum extent possible the film that NC State has to review in preparing for the Flames. Liberty should be able to beat Western Carolina easily just running their offense as normal and shouldn’t feel a need to go too deep into the playbook. The more points scored, and the more drives Liberty has on offense, the higher the temptation to shake things up and run something different but Liberty needs to resist that temptation. If Liberty is struggling to move the ball, then of course LU should get creative, but if the normal offense is getting the job done Hugh Freeze needs to just keep going with what works and not give NC State any additional tape.


Regular readers will recognize this as a repeat key from my Keys to the Game vs So Miss. However, due to the comeback effort by the Eagles, Liberty never got a chance to go to their backup as Willis was forced to stay in for almost the entire game. I am thus, recycling this key for this week. As I have said before, Ferguson has not shown that he has what is needed to run the current offense that Hugh Freeze has in place, which is designed for a dual-threat QB, not a true pocket passer. Bennett has shown incredible promise in his limited action and is definitely more of a run threat than Ferguson. While Willis has gotten slightly better in recent weeks at protecting himself on the run, he still puts himself in a lot of risky situations that have Flames fans holding their breath as he picks himself off the ground and that isn’t going to change based on the type of player that he is. Liberty may have beaten VT but they still have 4 games left and two of those games are against teams that are ranked or were at some point ranked in the Top 25. If Liberty wants to keep a solid grasp on their hopes for an undefeated regular season, they need to develop a backup who can keep the offense running smoothly in the event of anything happening to their star QB. This key is of course dependent on the first key but hopefully, Liberty is as dominant as everyone expects and has this game locked up early in the Third Quarter which would give Bennett significant time to find his feet in the offense and hopefully give a good impression to the coaches and the fans.


Liberty has a shown a bit of a habit this year of playing down to competition and making games closer than they should be, but after close scares to UNA and SO Miss I think the Flames have learned their lesson and will come out ready to dominate. With all the momentum from the VT game, the Flames should have no difficulty steamrolling over an untested Western Carolina team who only managed to garner 3 wins last year. Liberty should focus on getting this game in hand early and giving their backups plenty of playing time while resting their starters in preparation for the big matchup next week against their third and final ACC opponent of the year, NC State. Expect Hugh Freeze to further demonstrate why he deserves a contract extension that puts him among the highest-paid coaches in the Group of 5!

SCORE PREDICTION: Liberty 49 vs Western Carolina 20

Written by Mr. Exclamation Point