So far we have looked at 6 teams the Flames will face off against in the 2016 season. Each team has been ranked by considering their strengths, weaknesses, and the hype that surrounds the game.
Just a quick recap of the teams we’ve seen so far:
This brings us to our top 5.
From this point forward, Liberty will see another level of talent in the teams they will face.
#5 on our countdown is SMU.
SMU (Southern Methodist University), located in Dallas, Texas, is one of two FBS programs the Flames will face this coming season. Last year, under the direction of 1st year head coach Chad Morris, the Mustangs put together a 2-10 season. This was an improvement from a 1-11 record in 2014.
The 2-10 record is slightly misleading though when it comes to offensive talent. SMU averaged almost 30 points a game. This is thanks to both a good run and pass game. With an average of 165 rush yards and 218 passing yards a game, it would make sense that a team could win more than two games. They had 44 touchdowns on the year. That is almost 4 touchdowns a game, yet they were 2-10. Offensively, the Mustangs are good. They have a young receiving and rushing core, returning most from last season. QB Matt Davis, who lead the team in rushing and passing, comes back for his senior season. Any defense, including Liberty’s, look to have their hands full against SMU’s offense.
SMU’s greatest weakness lies in their defense. The Mustangs gave up 46 points a game last year, which may have had something to do with the 2-10 record. On top of the point average, opposing offenses were able to rack up 502 yards a game. SMU’s front five gave up 261 rushing yards a game. If the Flames want to be successful, they will have to run the ball well against SMU, which we know was a great weakness for them last year.
With the hire of a new head coach, there are always adjustments and changes. The Mustangs now enter into the 2nd year with Coach Morris and look to be more complete this season, compared to 2015.
Some other things to keep in mind:
Liberty tends to struggle in games out west (Southern Illinois, Indiana State, Kent State, Montana). Should the trend continue the Flames could be in for a long night.
SMU lost to an FCS team last season. James Madison traveled to Dallas and defeated the Mustangs 45-48. JMU actually dropped their game with Liberty and replaced it with this one. No doubt the Flames will want to mimic the Dukes’ success.
After starting the season off with two away games, this will be SMU’s first home game. No doubt the crowd will be loud and excited for their first game of the season in Ford Stadium.
SMU’s game against Liberty is placed in between two very prominent match-ups for the Mustangs. They will play Baylor the week before Liberty and TCU the week after. Should their focus be elsewhere, the game against Liberty could very well sneak up on SMU.
While SMU is a struggling FBS program, a win would be great for the Flames. Texas has become a focal point in Coach Turner Gill’s recruiting process.
Players to watch:
QB Matt Davis-As it has been discussed with other match-ups, Liberty has had their struggles with dual threat QBs and Davis is just that. If he gets going, the Flames will have trouble.