Liberty vs. Syracuse College Football Odds & Picks: Where Friday’s Betting Value Lies (September 24)
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Liberty vs. Syracuse Odds
|Liberty Odds||-6.5 (-115)|
|Syracuse Odds||+6.5 (-105)|
|Moneyline||-220 / +180|
|Over/Under||54 (-105 / -115)|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
Liberty travels up north on Friday night to Syracuse for its first of two games against Power 5 opponents this season.
The Flames thrashed Syracuse, 38-21, at the Carrier Dome last year and have started the 2021 season with three consecutive convincing wins.
The Flames’ offense is led by second-year starter and dual-threat quarterback Malik Willis, who gave the Orange’s defense lots of problems last season in their matchup.
Syracuse has already doubled its win total from the 2020 season — when it went 1-10 — with wins against Ohio and Albany.
The Orange have had a quarterback battle throughout much of the season, but it appears veteran Tommy DeVito is the frontrunner over newcomer and Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader.
The two have somewhat split time through the Orange’s first three games, but DeVito has outperformed Shrader and has seen most of the snaps.
Liberty vs. Syracuse Betting Preview
When Liberty ran all over Syracuse and posted 38 points last season, the Flames faced a banged up Orange defense missing multiple key starters.
Syracuse’s front seven is improved and healthier this year, with better tackling and less big plays allowed through three weeks. The Orange haven’t seen a quarterback like Willis to this point, but Liberty only has the edge in a couple key statistical categories.
The Flames have an edge in Rushing and Passing Success Rate, meaning they should be able to keep drives moving and pick up some first downs. However, the Orange are solid defensively at Finishing Drives, don’t allow big plays and Liberty will need to overcome the edges in Havoc Allowed and pass blocking that SU maintains.
Liberty will score in this game, but it’s going to take a while for the Flames to move the ball down the field and convert touchdowns.
The Orange had their best offensive line yards game of the season against the Flames last year, but only managed to score 21 points.
The Flames will need to find an answer to stop running back Sean Tucker, a major reason the Orange are 30th in Rushing Success Rate despite a below average offensive line.
The Flames’ run defense will be tested as the Orange rank 33rd in the nation in rush rate. Dino Babers has mostly ditched the super-fast, up-tempo offense, but the Orange could go to tempo if they get a drive sustained with a few first downs.
The Flames defense is 55th in preventing big plays and 15th in creating Havoc, both key statistics to potentially shutting down the Orange’s offense.
The Orange’s offense will lean on Tucker, who had 253 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns last Saturday against Albany. Tucker posted a 100-yard game at Notre Dame last season too and is the main focal point of an otherwise bad SU offense.
The Orange’s offensive line issues have defined the last few seasons of the Babers era, as the unit ranks 126th in offensive line yards this season and 87th in pass blocking.
Babers made a switch along the line, with his right tackle and center swapping spots in hopes of improvements. Those improvements are unlikely to come against a Liberty defense that is better statistically along the defensive line.
The Flames have the edge in havoc on defense, they’re 29th in pass rush and 86th in Line Yards. All three numbers are better than the SU offense in those respective categories.
Syracuse’s offense was heavily reliant on the big play to generate any type of offense last season, with wide receiver Taj Harris as the main deep threat. The Orange may break one or two off, but when they get down inside the 40, they have issues turning drives into touchdowns.
Veteran kicker Andre Szmyt is a former Lou Groza winner and Babers leans on his kicking ability in lieu of aggressive fourth-down decision making inside the opponent’s territory.
The offensive line issues condense the field and are a major reason Syracuse is 71st in Finishing Drives and ranked poorly in that category in 2020, as well.
The defense has carried an anemic offense for more than a year now, as the Orange were in the bottom three in FBS in offensive efficiency in 2020 and have struggled outside of a game against Albany this year.
On the other hand, the Syracuse defense held Ohio to nine points on six drives past its 40. It shut out Rutgers for an entire half in Week 2, and dating back to last season, the defense has been an underrated unit.
Syracuse’s entire defensive line returned this year and is very experienced. The group is in the top-10 in Defensive Line Yards, ninth in Havoc created and 40th in Rushing Success Rate. All of that is critical against Willis and his dual-threat ability.
The Orange rank second in explosive plays allowed, which was a major issue against Liberty in their loss last season.
PFF grades out the SU defense as top 16 in both tackling and coverage, a credit to second-year defensive coordinator Tony White.
Liberty vs. Syracuse Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Liberty and Syracuse match up statistically:
Liberty Offense vs. Syracuse Defense
Syracuse Offense vs. Liberty Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Liberty vs. Syracuse Betting Pick
Given that both defenses have the edge over the opposing offenses and both teams want to play at a slower pace than years past, the under is the play here.
One positive with DeVito at quarterback for Syracuse is that he doesn’t usually throw a lot of interceptions. The Orange will be punting quite a bit in this game if they cannot extend drives.
Punts will pin Liberty back in the field position battle, and while the Flames will surely have some success moving the ball, they play at a very slow pace and the SU defense has been excellent this year at avoiding big plays.
Both teams rank in the top 35 nationally in rushing rate, so with the ball on the ground and big plays hard to break open, the game will likely feature long drives.
Expect this duel to be played in the 20s, where points are at a premium for an SU offense that has had red zone issues for years. Also, Syracuse’s defense has excelled inside its own 40-yard line since Tony White took over as defensive coordinator last fall.