Liberty (1-1) returns to play against its 2nd FBS opponent in 3 games as they take on American Athletic Association opponent SMU (1-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 7pm Eastern and will be broadcast on ESPN3.
WHY SMU CAN WIN THIS GAME
The Mustangs are an FBS opponent. They should win this game, evidenced by their current position of being a 17 point favorite. Throw in the factor that SMU only won 2 games last year, in Chad Morris’ first year as head coach, and lost to an FCS school from Virginia (James Madison), it’s highly unlikely they will overlook the Flames.
SMU has one of the best wide receivers in the country in sophomore Courtland Sutton. As a freshman in 2015, he had 49 receptions for 862 yards and 9 touchdowns. He’s off to a solid start this season with 10 receptions for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2 games.
The Mustangs have had a very productive rushing attack early in the season. They are averaging 224 rushing yards per game and averaging 5.3 yards per rush. They have multiple backs who have seen some success including Ke’Mon Freeman and Braeden West.
WHY LIBERTY CAN WIN THIS GAME
Redshirt-senior quarterback Matt Davis has been ruled out for the season due to an injury he suffered in SMU’s season opener against North Texas. Redshirt-freshman Ben Hicks took his place, and made his first career start against Baylor last Saturday. Hicks has struggled passing the ball, completing just 22 of his 53 passes.
The Flames will not be intimidated. Not by the white-out in Gerald Ford Stadium, home to about 30,000 fans. Liberty has played in front of larger crowds. LU will not be intimidated by the talent level on the field. The Flames have faced more talented teams. The Flames will not be intimidated by the opponent. Liberty has beaten an FBS opponent in each of the prior two seasons.
The Mustangs, though they are led by an offensive-minded coach, are only averaging 23.5 points per game this season. Of course, that number is affected by the 13 points they put up against Baylor. SMU did score 34 points against North Texas in week 1. If the Flames can keep them below that number, Liberty will have a great chance to win.
X-FACTOR FOR THIS GAME
The Flames’ cornerback play.
Coach Wimberly has been very vocal of his praise for his top two cornerbacks so far this season, Chris Turner and Tyrin Holloway. Their high level of play has afforded the defensive coordinator the ability to play a lot of press coverage, something the Flames haven’t done since Walt Aikens and Kevin Fogg were on the team. Turner and Holloway will have another big challenge this weekend as they face Sutton and James Proche, who have combined for 20 receptions in 2 games. If Liberty’s CBs can hold Sutton and Proche in check, LU’s defense should see plenty of success against the Mustangs.