Liberty’s complete 2023 schedule was released on Tuesday. It will be the first season that the Flames compete in Conference USA. The Schedule features seven home games and a string of five straight midweek contests.
Teams are still finalizing their rosters through the transfer portal and entering the February signing day for high school athletes, so an exercise like this may be a bit futile, but it is fun nonetheless. So, here is our ranking, in mid-January, of Liberty’s 2023 football schedule from least difficult game to most difficult.
12. VS UMASS, NOV. 18
Liberty has defeated UMass by an average of 53-15.5 over the past four seasons including a 42-14 win over the Minutemen in 2022. UMass has been one of the worst FBS teams in the country over that span, something that continued this past season as they finished the year 1-11 with their only win coming over Stony Brook. New head coach Jamey Chadwell has also had some success against UMass, defeating them 53-3 while he was at Coastal Carolina during the 2021 season.
11. VS BOWLING GREEN, SEP. 2
This will be a much anticipated game with it being the home and season opener as the Flames begin the Jamey Chadwell and Conference USA era. Bowling Green was 6-7 in 2022, advancing to the Quick Lane Bowl where they lost to New Mexico State, 24-19. The Falcons did knock off Toledo during the year, something Liberty failed to do in the Boca Raton Bowl.
10. VS SAM HOUSTON, OCT. 5
Coming off two straight seasons where Sam Houston was 21-1 and won an FCS Championship, the Bearkats were unable to find consistency throughout 2022. They lost their first two games of the year before responding to win five straight before dropping their final two of the season as Sam Houston finished the season at 5-4. It will be their first year at the FBS level and competing in Conference USA as they will looking to be making a strong transition.
9. VS LOUISIANA TECH, NOV. 4
In his first year as head coach, Sonny Cumbie and the Bulldogs struggled to a 3-9 season and 2-6 record in the Conference USA. Louisiana Tech lost three games by one score including two setbacks in overtime. The Bulldogs have traditionally been a very strong team in Conference USA.
8. VS MIDDLE TENNESSEE, OCT. 17
The Blue Raiders had a successful 2022 campaign that included wins over Colorado State and Miami (FL). They finished the year at 8-5 overall and 4-4 in CUSA play. MTSU finished the year with four straight wins that included a win over San Diego State in the Hawaii Bowl.
7. VS NEW MEXICO STATE, SEP. 9
It was a very successful year for the Aggies in 2022, finishing 7-6 on the season under first year head coach Jerry Kill. New Mexico State won their last three games of the season and six out of their last seven including a win over Bowling Green in the Quick Lane Bowl. NMSU also knocked off Liberty, 49-14, in Lynchburg. This game will be Liberty’s first ever CUSA game and certainly some of the players and fans will have some revenge on their minds from the 2022 regular season finale.
6. AT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL, SEP. 28
In their first season under head coach Mike MacIntyre, FIU opened the season 4-4 and had their eyes set on bowl eligibility. The Panthers would not qualify for a bowl game though, losing their final four games to finish the season at 4-8 overall and 2-6 in CUSA. This will be the first of five straight games played during the midweek for Liberty, with the Flames taking on FIU in Miami on a Thursday night.
5. AT UTEP, NOV. 25
Liberty’s regular season finale will come away from home for the first time in the past few years. The UTEP Miners came up just shy of getting to a bowl game in 2022. They finished the season with a 5-7 record overall and 3-5 mark in Conference USA.
4. VS OLD DOMINION, NOV. 11
After picking up a season opening win against Virginia Tech, ODU had very much a letdown this past season. The Monarchs finished the year at 3-9 overall and lost six straight games to finish the season. Liberty defeated Old Dominion in Norfolk, 38-24, this past October. One of ODU’s wins in 2022 came against Coastal Carolina and head coach Jamey Chadwell, upsetting the Chanticleers, 49-21.
3. AT BUFFALO, SEP. 16
Liberty’s first road game of the 2023 season will be a trip to New York to take on the Buffalo Bulls. Buffalo finished 2022 with a 7-6 overall record that included a win over Georgia Southern, 23-21, in the Camellia Bowl. Coach Chadwell helped lead Coastal Carolina to a 38-26 win over Buffalo this past season as well, so he and his staff has some familiarity with Buffalo.
2. AT JACKSONVILLE STATE, OCT. 10
This game will be a very quick turnaround for the Flames, having to travel to Alabama to take on FBS newcomer Jacksonville State and play the Gamecocks just five days after Liberty plays host to Sam Houston. First year head coach Rich Rodriguez led Jacksonville State to a 9-2 record in 2022, including a perfect 5-0 mark in the ASUN.
1. AT WESTERN KENTUCKY, OCT. 24
The Hilltoppers have been one of the top dogs in Conference USA in recent seasons and they will look to repeat that performance again in 2023. At this point, it is likely that Liberty and Western Kentucky are the two preseason favorites to compete for the 2023 CUSA championship. For a third time in four years under head coach Tyson Helton, WKU won nine games in a season during 2022. The Hilltoppers were 9-5 on the year and 6-2 in CUSA. They also beat South Alabama to win the 2022 New Orleans Bowl.