For just the second time this season through the first 10 games of the year, Liberty football has opened as an underdog. The Flames are listed as a 15.5 point road underdog this week against Ole Miss. Liberty (7-2) faces the Ole Miss Rebels (6-2) on Saturday at noon EST from Oxford, Mississippi in a game that will be televised on SEC Network in the first ever meeting between the two programs.

The Flames were previously listed as a two to three point underdog in a game earlier this season at UAB. Head coach Hugh Freeze and the Flames won that game, 36-12. Liberty is coming off its most lopsided score of the season in a 62-17 win over the UMass Minutemen on Saturday afternoon from Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Ole Miss dropped to 6-2 on the season following their 31-20 loss at Auburn on Saturday night. The Rebels are now ranked No. 15 in the newly released Coaches Top 25 poll this week. The high powered Ole Miss offense is led by Heisman candidate at quarterback Matt Corral.

The biggest story line of this week’s game surrounds Freeze returning to Ole Miss and Oxford. The Liberty head coach is originally from Mississippi and was on staff as an assistant for the Rebels from 2005-2007. He then returned as head coach in 2012, a post he manned through the 2016 season.

This week’s game will also feature a matchup of two of the highest rated quarterbacks in the country. Liberty quarterback Malik Willis is currently ranked as the No. 1 quarterback on Todd McShay’s 2022 NFL draft board. Just behind Willis is Ole Miss quarterback Ole Miss. NFL scouts will flock to Oxford this weekend in droves to take in the matchup between the two high profile signal callers.

Liberty has only faced one other SEC program in school history, getting embarrassed at Auburn, 53-0, on Nov. 17, 2018. This is a much different Liberty team that will head into an SEC venue this time, though. Beginning with quarterback Malik Willis who suited up for and scored a touchdown for the Auburn Tigers in that game before transferring to Liberty.

In Freeze’s third season at Liberty, the Flames are 25-8 overall including a 10-1 mark during the 2020 season. Against Power Five opponents, Liberty is 2-5 under Freeze including an 0-1 mark so far this year as the Flames fell at Syracuse, 24-21, earlier this season. This will be Freeze’s first game against an SEC opponent since he was head coach at Ole Miss.