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Liberty Flames vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Where and when: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, 12 pm EST
FBS Independent Liberty Flames will come into Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday looking for a huge win as they will take on the Virginia Cavaliers at 12 pm EST. In their only meeting in 2018, the Cavaliers were able to pick up the 21 point victory at home, yet were not able to cover as 24.5-point favorites.
Three picks, thrown by Stephen Calvert, was the difference in last year’s matchup as this allowed the Cavaliers to ultimately pick up the victory. Each team picked up less than 400 total yards for the game, yet the Flames were able to pick up 4.7 yards per rush (205 for the contest). However, after a late kickoff return for Virginia opened the lead to 31-17, the Cavaliers, who were also allowed 200+ rushing yards by the Flames, were able to pound the football for two additional scores to end the contest.
The Flames need a signature win as the bowl season approaches, and one versus Virginia on the road sounds very intriguing. On the other hand, the Flames are only 2-3 SU away from home in 2019 while being slightly above .500 against the number (3-2).
The Cavaliers are 5-2 within the Coastal division of the ACC and are currently fighting off the Pittsburgh Panthers (4-2) for first place. And while the demolished the Panthers in week oneof the season, they will face third-place Virginia Tech Hokies (4-2 in Coastal) in their finale next weekend. Nevertheless, if the offense for UVA continues to play as well as it has for the past few weeks, they will be a potential headache for any team at this point in the season (33+points in three of their last four games).
Virginia happens to be undefeated in their last four at Scott Stadium, but are just 1-2-1 ATS during this time. Rain is expected for this contest which gives the home team a slight nod with dual-threat QB Bryce Perkins under center.
Calvert and passing attack among best in nationSenior Calvert has since rebounded from their last loss to the Cavaliers in an outstanding way in throwing for a total of 2941 yards, 23 TD’s, along with just 3 picks. The QB is roughly 120 yards away from surpassing his passing total for last season (3068) while he has already improved in TD passes along with interceptions from last year (21 TD’s, 18 INT’s). Finally, Calvert not only is completing 62% of his passes on the year, but is coming off a 300+ yard game (his third in four prior starts) in a 7-point road loss to BYU. Finally, he has thrown for 13 touchdowns compared to no picks in the team's last four matchups.
His favorite target is Antonio Gandy-Golden, who leads the team in yards (1244 yards, 19 yards per catch) along with touchdowns (8). Gandy-Golden also enters this matchup on a high as he has accumulated at least 130 yards in three of the Flames' last four games. However, the Cavaliers are a defensive bunch that happens to rank in the top 30 in all major defensive categories, including defending the pass (23rd, 194 yards per game).
And while their passing attack is ranked 16th in the nation with 300 yards per game, their rushing attack comes in putting up an average of 143 yards with senior Frankie Hickson leading the way with 631 yards along with 8 scores in 2019. And while the senior has not cracked the 100 rushing yard mark since week-two versus the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, it will be interesting to see how well he fares versus a defense for Virginia that is giving up only 123 yards per game to opponents, good for a 30th rank in the country. In all, this will be Liberty's final game versus a power five team as they are winless in three attempts in 2019.
UVA seeks to build on recent momentumDespite the Cavaliers holding the tie-breaker over the second-place team in the ACC Coastal division, Virginia cannot afford a loss at this point in the year. They have already had slip-ups versus the Miami Hurricanes along with the Louisville Cardinals earlier this year. Also, with the Virginia Tech Hokies (7-3, 4-2 Coastal) waiting in the wings for a season finale at Scott Stadium next weekend, the Cavaliers need to buckle down on the focus versus Liberty.
"Offensively, they're very dynamic, very capable of explosive plays.”- LB Jordan Mack on facing Liberty this Saturday at noon at Scott Stadium. Read @jeffwhiteuva’s take on the Hoos’ task this week ➡️ https://t.co/LoMPkYvbDd pic.twitter.com/85MdfGGtcU— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) November 19, 2019
Three of Virginia’s last five wins came by single digits as they shored up their run defense after being slaughtered for 186 in a win versus the North Carolina Tarheels to allow 143 yards to the Yellowjackets of Georgia Tech last weekend. Bryce Perkins not only passed for 258 yards along with a TD for the Cavaliers versus Georgia Tech, but also led the team in rushing with 106 yards on 21 carries and a rushing TD in the win. Perkins has been outstanding in his last three games in throwing for at least 230 yards while also recording 5 touchdowns compared to only one pick. Liberty is ranked 69th in defending the pass in addition to having cornerback Bejour Wilson, who has three picks on the season. Nonetheless, Perkins along with junior receiver Terrell Jana (586 yards, 11 yds/catch) will attempt to make some headway versus the Flames defensive secondary early and often.
However, the Cavaliers may have much more success in running the football as their 121st ranked rushing attack that puts up an average of just 113 yards per game, will be matched up versus a defensive front for Liberty that has been knocked around all year in giving up over 190 yards on the ground per outing.
- No trends to report
- Flames are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games on grass.
- Flames are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I feel as though the Flames will keep this game close in the end. Again, Virginia, despite having a decent defensive unit, has not played well during their most recent contests. And while they will play much better at home on Saturday, Liberty will continue to find ways to make plays and remain in the game. Besides, 17 points is simply too much to give versus a dangerous offensive unit for Liberty. The Cavaliers are only 2-5 against the number in their last seven games, overall (1-2 ATS in last two home games).
Prediction: Liberty Flames +17
Full-Game Total Pick
I happen to foresee the Cavaliers really selling out to putting pressure on Calvert throughout this contest. By speeding up his internal clock, the senior will begin to make some mistakes here and there, thus benefiting the Cavaliers. On the other hand, the Flames defense will also key in on Perkins, who has looked very good in past weeks. Also, Virginia will run the ball in this contest in order to take full advantage of a shaky run defense for Liberty. This strategy will allow the clock to tick as the under will be the strong play in this instance.
Prediction: Under 55