Campbell vs. Liberty College Football Odds & Picks: Malik Willis’ Flames Set to Roll in Week 1 (Sept. 4)
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Malik Willis.
- Saturday marks our first look at Malik Willis in 2021, as his Liberty Flames take on the Campbell Fighting Camels.
- Both teams were beloved by bettors across the country at different points last season, but which side are they leaning toward in this one?
- Check out Kyle Remillard's full betting guide with odds, picks and predictions for the game.
Week 1 College Football Odds
Campbell vs. Liberty
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Campbell Camels attempt to slow down the dynamic Liberty offense led by quarterback Malik Willis.
After having the fall 2020 FCS season canceled, head coach Mike Minter jumped at the opportunity to fill their schedule with four FBS opponents. They went winless in those games but were leading Georgia Southern at the break before losing 26-27.
With 20 starters returning, the Camels run defense will have to improve if they want to be competitive against Liberty.
The Liberty Flames went 10-1 last season only losing to NC State by 1 point.
Much of their success is attributed to quarterback Malik Willis who is one of the top prospects getting buzz heading into the 2021 season. He’s an electric dual-threat quarterback who can find pay dirt on any given play.
Campbell will have its hands full containing the Liberty offense that is one of the most explosive in the country.
Without an FCS season last year, Mike Minter ha the Campbell Camels stepping up in class to play a four-game FBS schedule in just 21 days.
They just barely came up short to Georgia Southern in Week 1 losing 26-27. After that loss the defense was unable to keep them in games, allowing an average of 53.7 points in the final three games.
Mike Minter was on the Liberty coaching staff in 2018 before taking the head coaching position at Campbell. He will need to pull a rabbit out of his hat to slow down the Liberty Rushing attack and keep this game in striking distance.
Campbell has a dual-threat quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams who averaged 54 rushing yards per game on 4.1 yards per carry. He rushed for four touchdowns and threw for another three while averaging 6.6 yards per attempt. The Camels are 5-2 when the third-year starting quarterback throws for at least 200 yards but are just 1-7 when he goes below that number.
Tight End Julian Hill has continued to progress each season and was most recently named to the second-team All-Big South.
The offense was efficient in the few times they reached the red zone, scoring a touchdown on nine of their 12 trips. They will need to find the end zone often against Liberty to keep this one in striking distance.
The Liberty defense was outmatched in every game last season, allowing an average of 47 points per game.
The inability to stop the run was the main contributing factor and is something we should see haunt them again in this matchup. The Camels allowed an average of 6.7 yards per carry and 4.8 touchdowns on the ground alone.
They do return 10 starters including sixth-year safety Darion Slade who is the cornerstone of the defense. Joining him is linebacker Justine Galloway-Velazquez who was the leading tackler in 2019 but had to miss the season due to injury.
The defensive front was ripped to shreds in each game and will be outmatched facing an electric offense spearheaded by Malik Willis.
It was a historic season for Liberty Football which had its best season in school history after going 10-1. It finished the season at No. 17 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 18 in the coach’s poll.
The Flames set various records, such as the program’s first-ever win over an ACC opponent when they defeated Syracuse and Virginia Tech. They also had their first-ever win against a top-25 program with their overtime victory against Coastal Carolina.
The offense was explosive, the defense improved, and many games saw the starters on the bench for much of the second half. They were a cash cow for bettors last season, going 9-2 against the spread.
Hugh Freeze’s offense is one of the most dynamic in the country. It ranked 16th in the country, averaging 38.2 points per game thanks to quarterback Malik Willis and the run game.
After sitting behind Jared Stidham at Auburn for two years and missing a year due to transfer rules, Willis was terrific his first season as a starter. He threw for 2,250 yards and 20 touchdowns. He completed 64.2% of his passes and finished the season with a QB rate of 155.8. As good as a passer as he is, he’s an even better runner. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry after rushing for 944 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
Liberty ranked ninth in the country, averaging 252 rushing yards per game and 5.6 per carry. The program ran the ball 61% of the time last season and saw the four leading rushers all average over 5.7 yards per carry.
The Flames ranked 14th in Offensive Touchdown Rate and 12th in Offensive Yards Per Play.
This offense should be able to get whatever it wants against Campbell whose rush game was exposed all last season.
Liberty returns nine starters from a 2020 defense that allowed just 22.8 points per game. The Flames run a 3-4 front and have a pair of dominant linebackers returning in TreShaun Clark and Durrell Johnson. The pair totaled 21.5 tackles for loss and came up with 14 sacks in the 2020 season.
This defense is used to practicing against the most dynamic quarterback in college football, so the legs of Campbell’s Hajj-Malik Williams shouldn’t be a concern.
With a huge front seven, they’re going to create problems for the Camels offense.
Campbell vs. Liberty Betting Pick
Liberty is going to score touchdowns at will against this defense that was exposed on the run game all last season.
The Flames offense is going to shred the Camels front seven the same way that Appalachian State, Wake Forest and Coastal Carolina did in 2020. Liberty ranked third in explosive rush rate and had three players who rushed for over 500 yards. The rushing attack is going to wear down the Campbell defense.
Willis is capable of putting up video game numbers as we saw when he threw for six touchdowns and ran one in against Southern Mississippi. Expect the dark horse Heisman candidate to boost that resume early in Week 1.
Pick: Liberty -23.5 (Play up to -24)
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