The national media is still putting a bow on the 2020 college football season, and with the Liberty Flames finishing the year at 10-1 and ranked No. 17 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll, the Flames are also getting plenty of love. Most recently, the Flames had three games ranked among the top 50 college football games of the 2020 season by ESPN.
Liberty’s games against NC State, Virginia Tech, and Coastal Carolina all ranked among the top 50 games of the season, according to ESPN. All three of these games were decided by an Alex Barbir field goal in the final seconds, with the walk-on kicker winning two games for the Flames and having his kick blocked at NC State as Liberty dropped its only game of the season.
The Flames’ only loss of the season came on Nov. 21 in Raleigh, North Carolina where Liberty fell to the NC State Wolfpack, 15-14. That game checked in at No. 39 on ESPN’s list. “In a season of great runs for mid-major teams, Liberty came up one point short of perfect record,” ESPN wrote in their recap of that game. “Aiming for their third ACC win of the year, the Flames took a 14-9 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to two Malik Willis touchdown passes. Zonovan Knight’s 4 yard score gave the host Wolfpack the lead, and on its final drive of the game, Liberty drove 71 yards to the State 21, positioning itself for a winning field goal … that Vi Jones blocked.”
Liberty also had two wins make the list, as Liberty’s upset of Virginia Tech on Nov. 7 checked in at No. 14 on this list, and the Flames’ win over Coastal Carolina in the 2020 Cure Bowl on Dec. 26 was ranked No. 13. In Blacksburg, Barbir’s 58 yard field goal attempt with 8 seconds remaining was blocked and returned for a touchdown, but VT head coach Justin Fuente had called a timeout right before the snap. Just a few moments later, Barbir’s 51 yard field goal sailed through the uprights.
The Flames controlled most of the game against the Chanticleers in Orlando on the day after Christmas, until Coastal charged back to tie the game with just three minutes remaining. Liberty would drive inside the Chanticleer 5 yard line with time running out before Joshua Mack fumbled at the goal line. The game went into overtime where Barbir’s 44 yard field goal proved the difference maker after Coastal’s 42 yard field goal was blocked by Elijah James.