All signs point to Liberty keeping it close vs. BYU

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Last weekend’s college football slate was one for the ages. Not only did we see Tennessee topple Alabama in an all-time classic, but our ugly underdog came through with a cover as Charlotte kept it respectable against UAB in a 34-20 loss. We tip our cap to the 49ers and now head north to Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Va., for a showdown between BYU and Liberty.

Fresh off a 52-35 loss to Arkansas, BYU is a 7-point road favorite against Liberty. That is simply too many points.

Don’t look now, but the Liberty Flames (6-1) have been impressive this season. Liberty’s only loss came by a single point to Wake Forest on the road, though the rest of the schedule doesn’t exactly read like a murderers’ row. Still, wins over Southern Miss, UAB and Old Dominion are nothing to scoff at for a team like Liberty, who could get quarterback Charlie Brewer (who previously played for Baylor and Utah) back in the fold for the first time since Week 1.

Liberty quarterback Charlie Brewer
Liberty quarterback Charlie Brewer
AP

Brewer’s presence would be a real boost for an offense that ranks 119th in passing success rate, 98th in rushing success rate and 94th in finishing drives. Those numbers may seem like they spell trouble — and they’re certainly ugly — but with Brewer under center the Flames should have some success against a Cougars defense that’s been a disaster in 2022.

BYU ranks 115th in Defensive Success Rate and 125th in Success Rate against the run and are rated as the 82nd-best unit in the nation by SP+. Not only have the Cougars struggled to contain strong offenses like Oregon and Arkansas, but weak teams like Utah State and Wyoming had some of their best performances of the season against the Cougars.


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While it’s weakness vs. weakness when Liberty has the ball, the opposite is true when BYU is on offense.

Liberty spent most of this season taking on pedestrian offenses, but the Flames have certainly passed the sniff test to date. Liberty ranks ninth in defensive success rate, 15th in passing success rate and 14th in rushing success rate. It’s fair to suggest that those numbers are inflated due to quality of competition, but Pro Football Focus still grades the Flames as the 29th-best defense in the country and the 10th-best against the run.

BYU’s rushing attack, which ranks 113th by success rate, should struggle to put star quarterback Jaren Hall in good spots, which means we could see a situation where Hall needs to put the Cougars on his back to get a cover. He’s capable of doing just that, but it will not be a cakewalk against this well-regarded defense.

Betting on College Football?

Oftentimes in college football we’ll see lines get inflated off of public perception when two programs like Liberty and BYU meet. Bookmakers know that they’ll get action on the Cougars based off of that alone, so they can shade the line a little bit and not have to worry too much.

That seems to be the case here as the Cougars are being overrated against a pesky Liberty team that should stand a chance to pull off an upset on the strength of its defense.

Take Liberty +7.

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