This season will be harder than ever to try to predict where the Liberty Flames may end up in a bowl game. As an FBS Independent, the Flames will always be reliant upon how other teams and conferences fare to secure a bowl spot, but with the COVID pandemic ravaging college athletic schedules, 2020 will make it more challenging to try to predict a bowl destination for Liberty.
The NCAA has waived all bowl eligibility requirements, so, in theory, all FBS teams are eligible for a bowl game this season. Certainly some schools will elect to not compete while others will unfortunately be unable to due to COVID issues. There are seven bowl games which have officially been canceled this year and a couple others who are rumored to be canceled.
The Flames finished the regular season 9-1 and are ranked No. 21 in the Coaches Top 25 Poll and No. 22 in the Associated Press Poll, and the team hopes its body of work is enough to secure a bowl bid this season. Liberty has a contract with ESPN Events to be placed in one of eight bowl games and both Athletic Director Ian McCaw and head coach Hugh Freeze feel confident the Flames will be able to secure a bowl game.
Here’s a look at the most likely bowl destinations for the Flames based on the contract with ESPN Events.
TROPICAL SMOOTHIE CAFE FRISCO BOWL
This bowl game is played on Saturday, Dec. 19 in Frisco, Texas at Toyota Stadium. It is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff on ESPN. The primary tie-in is with the American Athletic Conference and the Conference USA. Last year, Kent State defeated Utah State, 51-41, in the bowl game.
UPDATE: SMU has accepted an invitation to play in the Frisco Bowl and the “opponent will likely be from the Conference USA” according to the SMU release.
UPDATE: SMU will play UTSA.
UPDATE: The Frisco Bowl has now been canceled as SMU had COVID issues. UTSA is now headed to the First Responder Bowl.
MYRTLE BEACH BOWL
The inaugural Myrtle Beach Bowl game is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 21 at Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina and will be televised at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN. The primary tie-ins for this game is with the Sun Belt and Conference USA.
UPDATE: According to Brett McMurphy, Appalachian State and North Texas will play here.
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL
Scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 3:30 p.m. on the blue turf in Boise, Idaho, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is played at Albertsons Stadium. The primary tie-ins for this game is with the Mountain West and either BYU or the MAC. In last year’s game, BYU defeated Western Michigan, 49-18.
UPDATE: According to Brett McMurphy, Tulane will slide in here provided Cincinnati defeats Tulsa in the AAC Championship game.
UPDATE: According to Brett McMurphy, Tulane will face Nevada here.
ROOFCLAIM.COM BOCA RATON BOWL
The Boca Raton Bowl is played at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Tie-ins for this game are open to all Group of 5 conferences plus Liberty. In last year’s bowl game, FAU defeated SMU, 52-28.
UPDATE: UCF accepts bid to Boca Bowl, expected to face an ACC team.
UPDATE: BYU accepts bid to face UCF in the Boca Bowl.
The Montgomery Bowl replaces the Fenway Bowl for this season. The Fenway Bowl was set to debut later this month before the COVID pandemic forced its debut to be pushed back to 2021. The Montgomery Bowl will be played in the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 6 p.m. on either ESPN or ESPN2.
UPDATE: According to Brett McMurphy, Memphis will slide in here provided Cincinnati defeats Tulsa in the AAC Championship game.
UPDATE: According to Brett McMurphy, FAU will play here against Memphis.
NEW MEXICO BOWL
Due to state guidelines in New Mexico amid the COVID pandemic, the New Mexico Bowl will be played in Frisco, Texas at Toyota Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 24 at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN. Primary tie-ins are with the Mountain West and Conference USA. In last year’s game, San Diego State, defeated Central Michigan, 48-11.
UPDATE: According to Brett McMurphy, Houston will slide in here provided Cincinnati defeats Tulsa in the AAC Championship game.
UPDATE: According to Brett McMurphy, Hawaii will face Houston here.
The Camellia Bowl is played at the Historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama on Friday, Dec. 25 at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN. Primary bowl tie-ins for this game are between the MAC and the Sun Belt. Arkansas State defeated FIU, 34-26, in last year’s game.
UNION HOME MORTGAGE GASPARILLA BOWL
The Gasparilla Bowl will be played on Saturday, Dec. 26 at noon on ABC. The game will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Last season, UCF defeated Marshall, 48-25, to win the 2019 version of the bowl game.
The Cure Bowl will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando this season with kickoff at noon on ESPN on Saturday, Dec. 26.
SERVPRO FIRST RESPONDER BOWL
The First Responder Bowl is played at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Detroit, Michigan at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 26 on ABC. Primary tie-ins are from the American, ACC, and Big 12. Last year’s game saw Western Kentucky defeat Western Michigan, 23-20.
Update: UTSA was originally scheduled to be in the Frisco Bowl but that got scrapped because of COVID issues with their opponent, SMU. UTSA will now head to Detroit.
TICKET SMARTER BIRMINGHAM BOWL
The Birmingham Bowl is played on Friday, Jan. 1 at noon on ESPN2. The primary bowl tie-ins are with the SEC and AAC. Last year, Wake Forest defeated Memphis, 37-34, to claim the bowl game championship.
UPDATE: According to Brett McMurphy, Tulsa will slide in here provided Cincinnati defeats Tulsa in the AAC Championship game.