The Liberty Flames will enter the 2022 football season looking for a fourth straight bowl invitation and 8-win season. Under fourth year head coach Hugh Freeze, the 2022 version of the Flames will have a much different look than in the past couple seasons, most notably at quarterback.
The Flames will face arguably the most daunting schedule in 2022 that the program has ever played. So, which games have the most intrigue and which ones will fans be a little less excited about? We rank Liberty’s 2022 opponents from Level 1 (the least intrigue) to Level 5 (the most intrigue).
09/24 vs Akron
Liberty will welcome the Akron Zips to Williams Stadium in late September for the second home game of the season. Akron was 2-10 this past season and finished 1-7 in the MAC. The Zips had a rough go of it in 2021 losing six games by at least 21 points.
10/08 @ UMass
After hosting the Minutemen in Lynchburg the past two seasons, Liberty now heads to Massachusetts in early October. Liberty defeated UMass, 62-17, in 2021. Don Brown has returned to UMass for his second stint as head coach after going 43-19 from 2004-2008 at the FCS level.
10/15 vs Gardner-Webb
For it’s annual FCS game in 2022, Liberty will host former Big South rival Gardner-Webb. The Runnin’ Bulldogs finished the 2021 season at 4-7 overall and 2-5 in conference play. They did play two FBS teams to open the season, giving a scare to Georgia Southern before falling 30-25 and losing to Charlotte, 38-10. Gardner-Webb played a similar opponent as Liberty this past year, falling to Campbell, 42-28.
11/26 vs New Mexico State
The FBS Independents and future Conference USA rivals rekindle their brief rivalry in 2022. These two programs played the unconventional in-season home and home in both 2018 and 2019 as Liberty had just moved to the FBS ranks and needed games. The Aggies were 2-10 in 2021 with their wins coming against FCS South Carolina State and UMass, 44-27.
09/03 @ Southern Miss
Liberty opens the season on the road at Hugh Freeze’s alma mater where the Flames will face former offensive line coach Sam Gregg who is now the offensive coordinator at Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles were 3-9 in 2021 and 2-6 in Conference USA play.
11/12 @ UConn
UConn has been one of the worst teams at the FBS level the past few seasons, finishing just 1-11 in 2021. Their only win came as an underdog to FCS Yale, 21-15, and they lost to Holy Cross, another FCS team, earlier in the year, 38-28. So, how is this a ‘level 2’ game? It’s the first time Liberty has faced the Huskies since moving up to the FBS, and UConn will have a new head coach in Jim Mora. The long time NFL coach has previously been head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and in the Pac-12 at UCLA.
09/10 vs UAB
Liberty’s home opener should be a dandy, and it is getting overlooked on the Flames’ 2022 home slate. The Flames will welcome the Blazers to town, and they will be looking to exact some revenge from Liberty giving them a loss at the Protective Stadium opener. UAB finished 2021 with a 9-4 overall record including a 31-28 win over BYU in the Independence Bowl.
10/01 @ Old Dominion
The Flames will visit the Monarchs after hosting the in-state FBS rival in the previous two meetings. Old Dominion started the year 1-6, including a loss to Liberty, 45-17, before making a late season surge with five straight wins to get to a bowl game in head coach Ricky Rahne’s first year with the Monarchs. ODU would fall to Tulsa, 30-17, in the Myrtle Beach Bowl to finish 6-7 overall.
09/17 @ Wake Forest
For an idea of how top heavy the Flames’ schedule is in 2022, Liberty is facing an 11-win and top 15 nationally ranked ACC opponent and the game is being overshadowed on the schedule. That team is Wake Forest who finished 2021 at 11-3 and ranked nationally. The Demon Deacons will be returning most of their key contributors as they hope to duplicate their success from this past season.
11/05 @ Arkansas
Liberty will be looking for its first ever win over an SEC team in early November when the Flames take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas finished 2021 at 9-4 overall and 4-4 in conference play following their 24-10 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl.
10/22 vs BYU
It may be the final time these two FBS Independents meet on the gridiron, at least for some time, as both teams will be joining a conference. BYU has accepted an invitation to the Big 12 while Liberty will make the transition to Conference USA in 2023. The Cougars finished 2021 with a 10-3 record and ranked No. 19.
11/19 vs Virginia Tech
Liberty will play its most anticipated home game in school history just ahead of Thanksgiving. Virginia Tech will want to get some revenge from the Flames’ upset win in Blacksburg in 2020. The Hokies were 6-7 in 2021 following their blowout loss to Maryland, 54-10, in the Pinstripe Bowl. Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry will be in his first season as head coach at Virginia Tech.