Just a couple years ago it seemed nearly impossible that ESPN’s College GameDay would ever cover a Liberty football game, but entering the final week of the regular season in 2020, that vision appeared to be becoming a reality as ESPN announced its heralded college football show would be broadcasting from Coastal Carolina. Of course, we know how that played out with the Flames having to cancel the game amid an increase in positive COVID cases within the football program.
A few weeks later that game between the former Big South rivals would take place, but this time in Orlando, Florida for the 2020 Cure Bowl when Liberty defeated the previously unbeaten Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in overtime. With that close call for having GameDay at a Liberty game, we’re now wondering when’s the next time Liberty could be featured for the show.
Ending the 2020 season ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and returning most all of the contributors from that team, including all the hype surrounding quarterback Malik Willis this off-season, GameDay could come calling this fall. Here’s a look at Liberty’s 2021 schedule, ranking the games from least likely to most likely having GameDay on hand for the contest.
Sept. 4 vs Campbell
It’s the season opener and hopefully there will be full capacity allowed at Williams Stadium for the first time in nearly two years. This game could see a record-setting home crowd, but College GameDay won’t be coming to see the Flames face an FCS team as a big favorite.
Oct. 30 vs UMass
Over the past few seasons, UMass has become one of, if not the, worst FBS teams in the country. GameDay won’t want to spotlight this one between two FBS Independents.
Oct. 16 at Louisiana-Monroe
Liberty should be a huge favorite in its return trip to Monroe, Louisiana in October. The only possible story line here is if new ULM head coach Terry Bowden can quickly get things turned around in Monroe. Two former SEC head coaches meeting at their new non-Power Five spot? ULM has a long ways to go to be nationally relevant, though.
Oct. 9 vs Middle Tennessee
MTSU hasn’t won more than 8 games in a season since 2009 and the Blue Raiders have only won a combined 7 games the past two seasons. Unless they start off 2021 with a bang, GameDay won’t be in Lynchburg for this one.
Oct. 23 at North Texas
The Mean Green embarrassed Liberty, 47-7, in Lynchburg in 2018. Things have turned in the opposite directions for the two FBS teams since then as North Texas has won just 4 games in each of the past two seasons while the Flames, under Hugh Freeze, have turned things around winning 10 games in 2020.
Sept. 24 at Syracuse
This game has been moved to Friday night, and unless it is moved back to Saturday, GameDay won’t want to be on hand for a game previously played. And with the Orange finishing the 2020 season at 1-10, the ESPN show won’t be attending any Syracuse games any time soon.
Sept. 11 at Troy
The Trojans have won exactly 5 games each of the past two seasons under head coach Chip Lindsey, the former Auburn offensive coordinator. Having GameDay on hand in Alabama for this matchup is unlikely.
Sept. 18 vs Old Dominion
It’s been so long since the Monarchs have stepped foot on a football field, it’s hard to remember where the Monarchs stand. Following a 1-11 season in 2019, head coach Bobby Wilder was replaced by first time head coach Ricky Rahne in December 2019. ODU elected to cancel their 2020 football season amid the COVID pandemic. With only one win over the past two college football seasons, GameDay won’t be in Lynchburg for this one.
Nov. 27 vs Army
While this is a very attractive home date for the Flames to conclude the regular season, it falls on a tough weekend. There are a number of rivalry games across the landscape this weekend that probably get billing ahead of this one, but there’s a path for GameDay to be in Lynchburg if both FBS Independents are ranked in the top 25.
Oct. 2 at UAB
Under Bill Clark, UAB has become one of the more recognizable programs in the Group of Five. The Blazers are just a couple years removed from an 11 win season. Clark and Freeze are two of the hotter names in the coaching industry of coaches who could be on the radar for high-profile coaching jobs. There’s a path for GameDay to want to showcase this game.
Nov. 20 vs Louisiana
If you pay much attention to the way too early preseason top 25 polls, you may have seen both Liberty and Louisiana getting some love. If the Flames and Ragin’ Cajuns both have the seasons the two teams expect to have, this should be a matchup of top 25 programs late in the season. It could be enticing for GameDay to visit Lynchburg for the first time ever for this one.
Nov. 6 at Ole Miss
Whether GameDay is on hand for this game in Mississippi or not, they will certainly put a spotlight on the game. Hugh Freeze returning to where he really made a name for himself and going up against Lane Kiffin and the Rebels who are a borderline top 25 team entering the 2021 season. Biggest hurdle that could keep GameDay from attending this one: LSU plays at Alabama on the same day.