2019 Cure Bowl Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Bank on Liberty Pulling Upset vs. Georgia Southern?
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Stephen Calvert
- The latest odds for the 2019 Cure Bowl between Liberty and Georgia Southern makers GaSo a slight favorite (spread: -4.5) with the over/under at 59.
- These teams are polar opposites in how they try to control the game with their offenses.
- How should you be betting the Cure Bowl? Our experts make their picks on the spread below.
2019 Cure Bowl Picks & Odds: Liberty vs. Georgia Southern
- Spread: Georgia Southern -4.5
- Over/Under: 59
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 21
- Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS Sports Network
- Location: Orlando, Fla.
Liberty is playing in its first bowl game ever on Saturday, and will get the honor of facing Georgie Southern’s option offense in potentially poor weather conditions as a reward.
The Flames went 7-5 against the weakest schedule in the country, while Georgia Southern picked off Appalachian State but was fortunate in a handful of other games.
Who has the edge in the 2019 Cure Bowl? Let’s break it down.
Liberty vs. Georgia Southern Line Movement
Early bowl bettors thought Liberty opened as too big an underdog. The Flames dropped from +8.5 to +6.5 almost immediately when bowls were announced, and the rest of the market opened at +6.
Still, that wasn’t enough. Despite getting just 38% of bets, Liberty has drawn 50% of the money, pushing this line even further down to +4.
The total has risen steadily from 55.5 to 58.5. — Steve Petrella
Two Fun Facts
- Georgia Southern had the best turnover luck of any team in the country at +11 (+5 in actual turnover margin, -6 in adjusted).
- Liberty won five FBS games and two FCS games. The combined record of those FBS teams was 12-36, and that’s if you only count New Mexico State once (yes, the Flames played and beat NMSU twice). — Steve Petrella
Latest News & Weather
- Coach Hugh Freeze inked an extension to stay at Liberty.
- The weather is looking a little suspect for Saturday, with 15 mph winds projected in the afternoon.
GSU benefited immensely from weather in wins over Appalachian State and Georgia State, since winds don’t really hurt its triple option offense.
The Eagles secondary is exploitable in normal weather conditions, so be sure to check the latest forecasts before kickoff. If there is wind and rain, it favors Georgia Southern. — Steve Petrella
I wouldn’t think either team has a big leg up in motivation as these are two of the newer teams to the FBS scene. Georgia Southern has been around a little longer and does have prior bowl victories while Liberty will be seeking its first in its first bowl appearance.
This is an extremely important game for Liberty’s program but I think I’d say the same for Georgia Southern. There might be a slight edge to Liberty in the motivational department, but nothing extreme. — Stuckey
Collin Wilson: Trust Liberty’s Passing Attack
For all the reasons mentioned in my initial writeup of the Cure Bowl, Liberty players, coaches and administration will treat this game as their Super Bowl.
This game is fascinating because of what each team wants to do on offense, and those two game plans couldn’t be more different.
Liberty had a pace of play in the top 35 and a passing game that ranked top 45 in both explosiveness and success rate.
Georgia Southern has been running the triple option since its FCS Championship days during the Reagan administration, and enters this game with the second-slowest pace in the nation.
Georgia Southern will look to grind clock and take advantage of the Liberty front seven on the ground.
GSU’s option offense isn’t as strong as in years past, but Liberty is 115th in defensive line yards. UL Lafayette rung up the Flames defense for 400 yards on the ground.
Liberty will have success getting the ball down the field in Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert’s final game under head coach Hugh Freeze. The Eagles are outside the top 75 in defensive passing success rate and explosiveness, which should get the Flames in scoring territory.
Liberty not only has a top 25 rank in finishing drives, the measurement of points per attempt past the opponent 40, but Georgia Southern is 127th in opponent red zone scoring percentage.
The Action Network projections make the side Georgia Southern -3.5 and a total of 50.5. While the battle for pace will be key in this game, any Liberty side down to a field goal is suggested at the Cure Bowl. — Collin Wilson
Pick: Liberty +4
Stuckey: Beware of Weather
This is a true contrast in styles here in the Cure Bowl as we have Georgia Southern’s triple-option snail offense taking on Liberty’s up tempo aerial attack, led by QB Buckshot Calvert and WR Antonio Gandy-Golden.
The Liberty defensive front isn’t great but the Georgia Southern offensive line has struggled throughout the season after having to deal with some key departures from last season’s team. Liberty will have the benefit of extra prep time which always helps against an option team but I would imagine GSU can have some success on the ground with QB Shai Werts leading the show.
We have to mention Liberty’s pathetic strength of schedule. Of their seven wins, the Flames only beat one bowl team (Buffalo). The other six came against Umass, New Mexico, two FCS teams and two wins over NMSU.
However, it’s not like Georgia Southern dominated a tough schedule this season. GSU needed double OT to beat South Alabama, triple overtime to beat Coastal Carolina and only beat FCS Maine by one possession. The Eagles also have a win of their own over NMSU, and both quality wins (App State and Georgia State) came in bad weather.
Another factor to keep in mind is time of possession as Liberty plays extremely fast, which means the Flames defense could wear down in the second half against a ball-control Georgia Southern offense.
Field position could also play a role and I would give a slight edge to Georgia Southern, which has the better kicker and better punting game.
I have these teams rated pretty close to even and think the time off will benefit Liberty more preparing for a non-traditional offense. Georgia Southern also got extremely lucky throughout the season and could easily be sitting at home right now.
However, the one major red flag is the potential ugly weather conditions. If it doesn’t look too treacherous, I’ll play Liberty for the first half (remove that fatigue risk) and likely for the game at anything +3 or better.
Also, if the weather isn’t great, this total is definitely too high if you assume the Liberty passing attack will be limited at all. Georgia Southern will eat clock when on offense. — Stuckey
Pick: Weather-dependent Liberty 1H +3, full game +3 or better
Miller: Can Eagles Break Big Running Plays?
Quarterback Shai Werts and his running ability led Georgia Southern’s offense to a 7-5 season. Oklahoma State transfer running back J.D. King was the workhorse back but the Eagles have a stable of players with the ability to tote the rock. Wesley Kennedy III is the big play back and long rushing plays are the only statistic that the Georgia Southern offense ranks highly in.
They should be able to find plenty of long runs against the Liberty defense if the offensive line can give them enough room to get to the second level.
Liberty’s offense looks to have a big advantage over Georgia Southern’s defense in both passing success rate and passing explosiveness. In fact, the Flames will have significant advantages in quite a few categories when they have the football on Saturday. The weather may be a large factor in this game though and it will have a much bigger impact on Liberty than Georgia Southern.
Winds are projected to be around 15 miles per hour, which will impact Liberty’s passing game. I originally took Liberty for a full unit at +8.5, but I’m now looking to play back on Georgia Southern at -4 or better. If I didn’t have any action on this game yet, I would certainly be leaning towards Georgia Southern based on the weather and their ability to hit long rushing plays. — Kyle Miller
Pick: Georgia Southern -4