Two months and 10 teams later, we have reached the top match-up we are looking forward to in the 2016 season.
Numerous players have been evaluated, strengths and weaknesses have been dissected, and the overall hype of the games have been considered. It is clear Liberty is in for a tough season. Going up against the likes of two FBS teams and potentially three top-25 FCS teams, will be far from easy. But the opportunities are endless for the Flames because of this. Many of these slots could be filled with D2 schools as Liberty fans grew accustomed too, but when you blow teams out 73-7, nobody wins. Match-ups such as the ones Liberty has this season sets them up for greater wins and should aid in the eventual goal of FBS ranking.
Until then, we will look at what is right in front of us
Here is one more reminder at how the rest of the teams fell in our rankings:
And now we come to the final match-up.
The #1 team Liberty will see in 2016 is Virginia Tech.
This Saturday, Liberty will go up against one of the highest profile teams they’ve ever seen.
An hour and a half south of Lynchburg, Lane Stadium lies dormant, awaiting its first visitor of the 2016 football season. Liberty will be that first visitor, helping the Hokies kickoff their perspective seasons.
For the first time since 1987, Virginia Tech has a new head coach. With Frank Beamer’s retirement, Virginia Tech brought in Justin Fuente to take over the reigns. Fuente’s arrival brings about a somewhat different look for the offense. His goal is to implement the spread with an up-tempo offense, very similar to that of which Liberty is doing. Fuente’s success with this style of offense was seen during his time at Memphis and he hopes to find that same success with it in Blacksburg. One priority in making this happen is a good QB. A week ago, Tech named JUCO transfer Jerod Evans their starting QB, who has some speed on him and is elusive. He will be aided by a couple of good receivers in Isaiah Ford and TE Bucky Hodges.
But for the defense, a familiar face remains on the sideline. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster, even with Beamer’s move, remained with the team. This keep was huge for the program, considering the changes that Fuente brings on the offense, in retaining some type of familiarity. But even with this familiarity, Foster’s defense hasn’t lived up to expectations as of late. The Hokies were ranked 59th in the country in scoring defense last season with 26 points a game allowed, which is the most since Beamer’s hire. One of the priories for the Hokies is returning their defense to their former glory.
All things considered, Virginia Tech should have little issue with Liberty. Because of the different level of recruiting FCS and FBS programs do, Tech will have bigger, faster, and stronger guys. Regardless, this is a big game for the Flames. The opportunity to take on an FBS team such as Tech doesn’t happen often and Liberty wants to prove themselves worthy.
Some other things to keep in mind:
Liberty has proven they can hang with FBS teams (Ranked UNC, Wake Forest, Kent State), but have had trouble finishing those big games. And Tech has a reputation of playing down to their competition.
Lane Stadium is one of the hardest places to play in all of the country. It is safe to say most of the Flames have never played in an environment such as this.
Virginia Tech travels to Bristol to take on Tennessee next week. Big games such as those can aid in trap games for FCS squads.
Both teams will debut new offensive schemes at this game.
Players to watch:
WR Isaiah Ford-Ford is one of the best receivers in the ACC. No doubt his name will be called quite a bit this game.
TE Bucky Hodges-Hodges has been a reliable target for the past two years.
Virginia Tech Game