Liberty football is undefeated, but the team’s strength of schedule has the Flames on the outside of the College Football Playoff top 25. With Tulane in the ranking at No. 23, Liberty will need help the rest of the season to have any shot at a New Year’s Six Bowl game.
The Flames have a chance to make arguably their loudest statement of the season on Saturday. They host Old Dominion, a Sun Belt team. While the Monarchs are just 4-5 this year, they’ve lost all but one game by one score. They have wins over App State and Louisiana, and they almost upset JMU in late October, losing 30-27.
If Liberty dominates Old Dominion, the Flames will have a win to point to as an example of why they’re the best Group of Five program. The schedule might still prove too much to overcome in terms of making the Fiesta Bowl, but a strong win would send a positive message to the nation that the Flames are legitimate.
College football betting odds list Liberty as a 13.5-point favorite.
Place College Football Wagers at BetMGM
Liberty’s top win of the season is probably its 31-13 road win at Jacksonville State. The Flames also have decent wins over New Mexico State and Western Kentucky, both of which came by double digits.
Liberty doesn’t, however, have a win over any team outside Conference USA or the MAC. Winning a game against a Group of Five team from the Sun Belt, which has a strong case to be viewed as the best G5 league, would mean something.
The Flames could compare their team to JMU through a common opponent, giving them a reason to suggest their team is the best in Virginia and the Group of Five.
Liberty’s season gains significant credibility with a victory over a team from outside CUSA and the MAC. While Old Dominion isn’t exactly a Sun Belt powerhouse, the Monarchs have shown themselves to be competitive all season.
Liberty’s offense, which is one of the nation’s best, should have advantages against Old Dominion’s passing defense. Can Liberty’s defense settle down on Saturday and play well? That might be the game-defining question. The Flames have allowed an average of 31.3 points per game over their last three contests.
- G5 Top 25 Rankings
- 2024 NFL Draft: Group of Five Big Board
- JMU Still Seeking To Make The FBS Postseason
Major Opportunity For Monarchs
As for Old Dominion, the Monarchs have been excruciatingly close to a breakthrough.
They lost to Wake Forest by three points earlier in the season, wasting a 17-point halftime lead. They also lost to JMU by three points in a competitive contest, missing chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter. One-possession losses to Marshall and Coastal Carolina likely haunt head coach Ricky Rahne as well.
Old Dominion has played well enough to secure bowl eligibility by now. Instead, the Monarchs are 4-5 and need to win two of three against Liberty, Georgia Southern, and Georgia State to make a bowl.
Can Saturday finally be the day Old Dominion grabs its signature win of the 2023 season? The Monarchs played well enough to upset Wake Forest and JMU, but they couldn’t finish those games.
A win on Saturday would be huge for the Monarchs, and it’d be a nice feather in the cap of the Sun Belt.