Liberty at Syracuse Betting Odds & Pick: Expect the Flames to Start the Fire (Saturday, Oct. 17)
Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mikel Jones.
Liberty at Syracuse Odds
|Liberty Odds||-2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Syracuse Odds||+2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-145/+125 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||53.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 12 p.m. ET|
Boy, what a difference a year makes.
Last season, Syracuse traveled to Liberty as a 17-point favorite to open its campaign. Now, the Orange are 3.5-point underdogs entering Saturday’s home game against the Flames.
Liberty has taken care of business thus far, racking up a perfect 4-0 record behind its dynamic rushing attack. However, the Flames have had it relatively easy up to this point. So, even though Syracuse has looked terrible, it will be the Flames’ toughest test to date.
Syracuse is reeling after losing to Duke, which dropped it to 1-3 on the season. The Orange have the least-efficient offense in the country behind one of worst offensive lines. That said, Syracuse will have to find some semblance of offense if it wants to keep pace with Liberty.
Liberty’s offense is clicking on all cylinders, especially on the ground. The Flames rank 13th in rushing success, carrying the ball for 5.2 yards per attempt through their first four games. They are led by senior running back Joshua Mack, who is already averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
Auburn transfer Malik Willis has been very efficient under center for the Flames, throwing the ball for 7.4 yards per attempt and rushing the ball for 7.2 yards per carry and four touchdowns.
Liberty should have no trouble running the ball against Syracuse’s defense that has struggled to stop the run, ranking 45th in defensive rushing success and allowing 4.8 yards per carry.
The defensive side of the ball is where Liberty has struggled, largely due to the fact it’s had to replace its three top tacklers from last season. So far, the Flames have been solid against a weak schedule, ranking 32nd in defensive rushing success and 18th in passing success.
However, the issue the Flames face this season is the fact they are undersized. Their linebacking core averages only 220 pounds, so that could be an issue going forward as they start to face more Power Five offenses.
As for Saturday, I don’t think it’ll have very many issues. Syracuse’s offense hasn’t shown the ability to move the ball against its opponents and have a slew of injuries to deal with, so Liberty should be able to hold up on the road.
There is no way of sugarcoating it.
Syracuse is the worst offense in college football.
The Orange are dead last in both rushing and passing success. Now, it has a ton of injuries to deal with as well. Quarterback Tommy DeVito is out for the year, which means Rex Culpepper has been thrust into the starting role.
However, it really doesn’t matter who plays under center because Syracuse’s offensive line has had all sorts of issues. The Orange have allowed 17 sacks in their first four games and showed no signs of continuity in pass protection or run blocking. To make things worse, two starters are questionable for the game.
Syracuse has struggled to run the ball, gaining a measly 2.3 yards per attempt. It came into the season without its top three running backs from 2019, following Moe Neal’s graduation and opt-outs from Jarveon Howard and Abdul Adams. So, it’s hard to imagine things are going to drastically improve.
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Syracuse made a big change to its defensive scheme before the season, switching to a 3-3-5 formation. However, it hasn’t seemed to make a big difference, as the Orange rank in the bottom half of football in defensive passing success and rushing success. The defensive line and linebacking corps were problems for the Orange heading into the season, but their real strength was supposed to be in the secondary.
Now, Syracuse has even bigger problems, as its best defensive back — Andre Cisco — is out for the season. In addition to that, three other defensive backs are questionable for Saturday’s contest.
With all of the injury issues that have hit the best defensive unit, I don’t see how it’s are going to shut down Liberty’s red-hot offense.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
With all of the issues going on at Syracuse, I don’t think Syracuse will stay in this game. It feels weird seeing Liberty as a 3.5-point favorite on the road at a Power Five school, but this offense is legit and should be able to move the ball easily against Syracuse’s defense.
I have the Flames projected as a -8.30 favorite on the road, so I think there’s some value in backing them at -3.5. However, I would only play it up to -5.
Pick: Liberty -3.5 (up to -5)