defenseThe Flames head on the road for a big test this Saturday as Indiana State (2-1) plays host to #22 Liberty in Terre Haute, Indiana at 3pm.

Why Indiana State can win this game

Indiana State has zero turnovers in their first 3 games this season. That’s an amazing stat. As you can imagine, there is only 1 other team in the country with 0 turnovers on the year – Columbia who has only played 1 game so far this season. The Sycamores rank 4th in the country in turnover margin at +7.

Yes, Indiana State was a dreadful 1-11 last year, but this program is no laughing stock. They compete in arguably the toughest FCS conference in the country in the MVFC, home of the 3-time defending national champions North Dakota State. The Sycamores are used to competing with teams at a high level, evidenced by their win over FBS Ball State earlier this season.

Senior quarterback Mike Perish has been on fire early this season. He is 68-of-109 passing for 840 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions through his first 3 games. His 280 yards per game is good for 6th in the country. Perish is a transfer from Western Michigan where he redshirted in 2010 and played in 3 games as a redshirt freshman in 2011. He is likely the best QB the Flames have faced so far this season. Defensive coordinator Robert Wimberly compares him to Taylor Heinicke from Old Dominion who Liberty faced last year.

Why Liberty can win this game

abnarLiberty has a decisive advantage in the running game. The Flames are averaging 176.5 yards rushing per game while Indiana State is only averaging 78 yards rushing per game. The Sycamores have been held under 50 yards rushing in 2 of their 3 games this season.

The Flames ability to force turnovers. Liberty’s defense has forced 10 turnovers this season which is 8th best in the country. Expect Indiana State’s streak of 0 turnovers to end on Saturday.

Liberty’s defensive line. The Flames’ front 4 has been making plays all season. They have combined for 14 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in the first 4 games. Their ability to control the line of scrimmage should allow the secondary to play with great confidence against ISU’s potent passing attack.

X-Factor for this game

Turnovers. With a game that is so evenly matched on paper, turnovers will play a vital role. Throw in the fact that Indiana State has not turned the ball over all season, and this area becomes crucial. Being on the road, Liberty cannot lose the turnover battle and expect to win this game.

Score prediction
Liberty 31 Indiana State 27