College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Middle Tennessee vs. Liberty: Where Does The Value Lie?
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
- Liberty hosts Middle Tennessee as it attempts to build its record to 5-1.
- The Flames have a dual-threat quarterback in Malik Willis and a strong defense that has guided them past every team but Syracuse.
- Patrick Strollo breaks down the battle and delivers his best bet.
Middle Tennessee vs. Liberty Odds
|Middle Tennessee Odds||+19.5 (-110)|
|Liberty Odds||-19.5 (-110)|
|Moneyline||+750 / -1250|
|Over/Under||58.5 (-110 / -110)|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
Liberty (4-1) will host Middle Tennessee (2-3) on Saturday afternoon at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia. This will be the Flames’ homecoming game and a chance for Liberty to win its 14th straight home game.
This is only the second meeting between the two programs, with 39 years passing since they last met in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Blue Raiders won the previous matchup, 27-7.
Head coach Hugh Freeze has registered a 22-7 record in his three seasons at Liberty. Freeze is an impressive 16-2 over his last 18 contests.
Most impressively, he coached from a hospital bed in the coaches’ box a couple of seasons ago.
Here's Hugh Freeze coaching from his hospital bed pic.twitter.com/SSURR2KErM
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) August 31, 2019
Freeze has left his mark on the Flames’ program through his dedication and in the process, has turned them into legitimate contenders in the FBS.
The Flames are 4-1 against the spread so far this season after losing outright as favorites against Syracuse a couple of weeks ago. They have hit the under in four out of five games by an average difference of 12.25 points.
The Blue Raiders are 2-3 against the spread this season after winning straight up as home dogs against Marshall last weekend. They have hit the under in three out of five games. In those matchups, they have covered the under by an average of 10 points.
This matchup should be a lower-scoring affair as Liberty’s top-ranked defense hosts a less than middle-of-the-road Middle Tennessee offense.
The Blue Raiders have relied on a defense — one that ranks fourth nationally in turnover margin — to keep them in games.
Middle Tennessee vs. Liberty Betting Preview
Middle Tennessee Offense
The Middle Tennessee offense was outgained by Marshall last Saturday, 493-314. The Blue Raiders will have to turn up their offensive output to hang with the Flames’ attack this weekend.
The Blue Raiders’ rushing attack was very reliable last week, rushing for 209 yards. Junior running back Chaton Mobley led the backfield with 132 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Chase Cunningham has been very efficient this season, completing 64.8% of his passes. Cunningham is averaging 148.6 yards per game through the air and has thrown for 10 touchdowns to only one interception.
The Middle Tennessee offense ranks 62nd nationally in scoring offense, putting up an average of 30 points per game.
The Blue Raiders will need to be prepared to score to keep it close on Saturday as they face one of the best defenses in the nation.
Middle Tennessee Defense
The Blue Raiders’ defense showed up for a battle last week against Marshall. They had six takeaways in the victory but did allow nearly 500 yards of total offense.
Middle Tennessee will be facing an even more difficult test at Liberty this weekend.
Senior safety Reed Blankenship is a leader on the defense. Blankenship is the all-time tackles leader in Middle Tennessee history and ranks fifth in the nation among active players. His impact cannot be understated, as he scored a touchdown last weekend and was involved in three of the six turnovers.
The Blue Raiders rank 13th in the nation in defensive Havoc after last weekend’s disruptive showing.
They will have to continue to bring the noise defensively to counteract the 29.4 points per game that they allow.
Junior quarterback Malik Willis has gotten off to a great start this season.
Willis has 17 touchdowns — 11 passing and six rushing — through five games this season. The dual-threat QB ranks in the top-40 nationally for both rushing and passing touchdowns.
Behind Willis, the Flames are averaging 34.2 points per game, which ranks 39th nationally. They impress in Success Rate and points per opportunity as well, ranking 28th and 10th in the nation, respectively.
Liberty will look to Willis’ veteran leadership in the matchup against Middle Tennessee. His dual-threat nature has been very tough to contain over the last two seasons.
Look for Willis to cause problems for the Blue Raiders’ defense.
The Flames are one of the hottest defenses in the nation.
They rank ninth nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 14.6 points per game. Validating its scoring defense, Liberty ranks No. 6 nationally in total defense, giving up only 266.5 yards per game.
The Flames rank No. 12 in the nation in sacks, but surprisingly, they only rank 46th in the nation in total Havoc. I am not concerned by this as they control the line of scrimmage and have an excellent shutdown secondary.
I expect their Havoc rating to steadily rise the rest of the season.
The Blue Raiders’ offense is going to have a long afternoon squaring off against the swarming Liberty defense.
Middle Tennessee vs. Liberty Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Middle Tennessee and Liberty match up statistically:
Middle Tennessee Offense vs. Liberty Defense
Liberty Offense vs. Middle Tennessee Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Statistically, Liberty has a large advantage in this game, besting Middle Tennessee in nearly every category. The Blue Raiders have the edge in Line Yards, but that will be an easy adjustment for Willis, as he can lean on the passing in the early stages of the game.
Liberty ranks sixth in the nation in Middle 8. This speaks volumes about the coach and discipline that Freeze has instilled in his team.
Per the listed stats above, look for the Flames to have an easy time getting a W in this matchup.
Middle Tennessee vs. Liberty Betting Pick
At the time of publishing, the forecast is showing a 70% chance of precipitation with wind gusts up to 10 miles per hour in the Lynchburg area.
I ran a variety of simulations on this game and both of my models are in agreement with the Vegas point spread of 18.5 points.
Where both of my models find value is on the under. I am projecting a total of 55.22 on my most accurate model for totals. The other model is projecting a total of 57.58 points.
The total for the game sits at 58.5, so based on my model, there is a field goal of cushion in this number. Additionally, it is important to note that one of Action’s top experts is in agreement with this and is betting the under.
Liberty has an outstanding defense and they have shown that they can make all the stops necessary so far this season.
Look for Liberty to show out for the homecoming game and continue to stymie opposing offenses in what could be a tough weather game.
Pick: Under 58.5 (-115)