Liberty (4-4 overall, 1-1 Big South) and VMI (1-7, 0-3) meet for the 12th consecutive season on Saturday at Williams Stadium. The Flames lead the overall series 9-3 and have won the past 7 meetings. With VMI’s pending departure from the Big South to the Southern Conference following the 2013 season, this could be the last meeting on the gridiron between the 2 schools.
Why VMI can win this game
At 1-7, the Keydets have nothing to lose and plenty to gain in their matchup with Liberty. VMI has not beaten Liberty since 2005, and are a sizable underdog again this season. Everyone expects Liberty to win, and win big. VMI will be able to play loose, with no pressure. Who knows what can happen on any given Saturday?
Just a few years ago VMI ran the triple option and was typically the best rushing offense in the Big South year in and year out. This year, the Keydets have flipped the script. VMI is 1st in the Big South in passing offense with over 267 passing yards per game. So, if Liberty jumps out to an early lead, the Keydets will not panic as they are used to passing the ball.
The last 2 games the Keydets have seen 2 players put up impressive numbers. Running back Derrick Ziglar has rushed for over 100 yards each of the last 2 games including 136 yards last week against Coastal Carolina. Quarterback A.J. Augustine has performed very well in his relief of starter Eric Kordenbrock who has missed the past game and a half with a concussion. Augustine is 34/51 passing for 496 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Just 2 seasons ago, in their last visit to Williams Stadium, VMI pushed Liberty to the brink. The Flames eventually won 37-31, but it took everything Liberty had to gut out the victory. So, the Keydets will return to Lynchburg with the belief that they can compete with the Flames at Williams Stadium.
Why Liberty can win this game
Liberty has won 7 consecutive games over VMI by an average score of 45-22.
The Keydets are bad this year. Their only win came over Division II Glenville State, and they needed a last minute goal line stand to win that one. VMI lost their other game against a Division II opponent, North Greenville, 37-24. They’ve been shut out twice (against Richmond and UVA). They’ve given up 49 or more points 3 times this season including 66 this past weekend against Coastal Carolina. Presbyterian’s only Division I win this season came against VMI.
The Flames should be able to shut down VMI’s rushing attack. The Keydets have one of the worst rushing offenses in all of FCS, whereas the Flames rushing defense is the best in the conference.
Liberty is averaging 52 points per game in their 4 home games so far this year. The Flames have scored at least 38 in each game played at Williams Stadium this season. VMI is giving up over 49 points per game in their 4 road contests so far this year including 66 last week against Coastal Carolina. Meanwhile, the Keydets have yet to score more than 35 points in a game this season.
X-Factor for this game
Liberty is simply better than VMI. Playing at home, with the sting of 2 tough losses out of their systems, the Flames will win this game comfortably as long as they don’t make critical mistakes. Liberty is the top team in the Big South in turnover margin, and if that trend continues, they will improve to 5-4 on the season.
Liberty 45 VMI 10