Kickoff is approaching as we are just over two weeks away from Liberty’s season opener on Sept. 3 at Southern Miss. It is a season that has been much anticipated with the best schedule in school history as the Flames are preparing for a home schedule that features Virginia Tech, BYU, and UAB in addition to road trips to Wake Forest and Arkansas.

As we are about to enter the season and will get caught up in the week-to-week grind of each game, let’s pause and take a step back and look at the big picture entering the year. There are a few games that will help define Liberty’s 2022 season, here are our top four:

Sept. 3 at Southern Miss

It’s the first game of the season, it’s on the road, and it’s a virtual toss-up game. Liberty opened as a slight favorite and will head to Hugh Freeze’s alma mater expecting to win, but it won’t be an easy matchup. Having a toss-up game in the season opener can go along way in defining the success of the season as a whole. Win and Liberty will keep the expectations and momentum at a fever pitch. Lose and some of that momentum could wane.

Oct. 1 at Old Dominion

Yes, Liberty has absolutely dominated the Monarchs the past two meetings, winning by an average of 48.5-13.5 in those contests. Don’t expect such a lopsided margin when the calendar turns to October. First, this game is being played on ODU’s home turf, and they will be looking to prove those last two outcomes were a fluke. Head coach Ricky Rahne helped turn the program around last year, winning five straight games to become bowl eligible. They will be looking to carry that momentum over into 2022. A win for the Flames will go a long way in securing bowl eligibility on the year and can keep hopes for another eight-win season alive.

Oct. 22 vs BYU

Jerry Falwell, Sr. always pointed to BYU and Notre Dame as model institutions for Liberty to build after. The Cougars are a preseason top 25 team and will be coming to Lynchburg looking for an easy win. The Flames will have an opportunity for a program-defining win that will be remembered for decades.

Nov. 19 vs Virginia Tech

This may be the biggest game in school history. It’s certainly the most anticipated. Virginia Tech will look to prove it is a different team and program under head coach Brent Pry and that the 2020 loss to the Flames was a fluke. The Hokies will likely need this win to be bowl eligible, while Liberty will be looking to stake its claim as one of the best football programs in Virginia.