Why Presby can win this game
Presbyterian’s defense has been playing extremely well, particularly in conference play. The Blue Hose have allowed just 9 points per game in their last two games against Monmouth and Charleston Southern. Entering last week’s game, Monmouth was the top offense in the conference, but the Blue Hose were able to slow them down to eek out a win in the final minutes.
The Blue Hose’s only Big South loss was to Coastal Carolina, 40-28, but PC competed with #2 Coastal. They lost the game primarily due to miscues as the Chanticleers scored 20 points off PC turnovers. Still, it was a 1 possession game into the 4th quarter.
PC is playing very well and playing with confidence. They have won 3 out of their past 4 including a win over Western Carolina. The same WCU team which is 6-2 on the season and a perfect 4-0 in the Southern Conference. Western Carolina’s only other loss came by just 5 points to South Florida; their wins include Furman, Wofford, and the Citadel.
Why Liberty can win this game
The Flames have more offensive firepower. Liberty has scored 29 or more points in 6 of their 8 games this season. Presby has not scored 29 points against Division I competition this season.
There’s been times recently when it seems as though the Flames have overlooked Presby and lost (2008) or narrowly lost (2010, 2011). It’s understandable considering the Blue Hose have been bad since they joined the Big South in 2009. PC has never won more than 3 Division I games in a season, until this year. Overlooking the Hose shouldn’t be a problem this year as PC is 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the Big South with wins over Furman, Western Carolina, Monmouth, and Charleston Southern.
It goes hand in hand with LU having more offensive firepower, but PC is last in the Big South in total offense and passing offense. Defending the pass has been the Flames’ defense’s Achilles heel so far this year. The defense should be able to key on Demarcus Rouse (currently listed as questionable) and Presby’s run game. Anytime you can make an offense one-dimensional, it makes them that much easier to stop.
X-Factor for this game
I know it’s cliché, and I always try to steer away from saying turnovers are an x-factor, but I kept coming back to it this week. As noted above, the Blue Hose very easily could have beaten Coastal Carolina if it wasn’t for being outscored 20-0 in points off turnovers. If Liberty wins the turnover battle, their superior athletic ability and offensive firepower, should lead them to the win.