Teams: Syracuse Orange (0-0, 0-0) vs. Liberty Flames (0-0, 0-0)
Day & Time: Saturday, August 31, 6 p.m. ET
Location: Williams Stadium, Lynchburg, Va.
Line: -18, Syracuse | -900 Moneyline
TV/Streaming: ESPN+ (they have free trials, and there’s an affiliate link here if you want to get a few extra bucks tossed toward TNIAAM)*
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3, Sirius XM 203 (Streaming 966)
Rivalry: This is the first ever meeting between the two schools, and the first of a three game series Syracuse announced in 2017.
Current Streak: N/A, because see above.
First Meeting: This Saturday. Should be interesting.
Last Meeting: You get the point.
Head Coaches: SU: Dino Babers (4th year, 18-19); Liberty: Hugh Freeze (1st Year, 0-0)
Coach Bio: Oh, where to begin. Freeze started his career in D1 at Ole Miss, and left the staff when Houston Nutt was hired. He went to Lambouth and Arkansas State, and was rehired by Ole Miss in 2011. After some particularly out-of-nowhere, yet strong recruiting, Freeze led Ole Miss to major victories in the regular season and their first major bowl appearance. Then the wheels came off. You should really read Stephen Godfrey’s Crooked Letters which lays out a very large recruiting and player scandal that unfolded in Mississippi while Freeze was at the helm of Ole Miss. Freeze then left Ole Miss after it was discovered that the Bible Quoting head coach had been using school phones to make calls for escorts. Freeze landed at Liberty after Turner Gill retired this past offseason, which led to one of the most on-the-nose quotes of all time.
Last Year: Liberty went 6-6, going 5-1 at home. Their only loss at Williams Stadium was to North Texas, who won a 52-43 shootout. Liberty traveled to Army, Virginia and Auburn last season for their most notable games, losing all three by at least 19 points.
Last Game: Liberty defeated Norfolk State at home, in a game rescheduled due to Hurricane Florence. The game was not close, with the Spartans getting thrashed by the home team 52-17. The Flames have an agreement with the Cure Bowl for participation, however the bowl chose to invite the official team of TNIAAP, the Tulane Green Wave... plus the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, over the Flames.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden is a 6’4” senior who racked up over 1,000 yards last season with 10 touchdowns. He’s one of the best mid-major receivers out there, and could get a look at the NFL should he have a productive season. This will be a perfect challenge for a secondary we’ve been high on around this parts.
If Syracuse Wins: The season starts off as expected, and we all feel significantly better about the first non-Eric Dungey led Dino Babers team. We also probably get to stop talking about playing Liberty for the next year, which will make plenty of people here happy.
If Syracuse Loses: We hear about it on Twitter, and we start having serious reservations about repeating last year’s nine-win season. So don’t lose this.
Fun Fact: Hugh Freeze is a perfect reminder to #NeverTweet, as he literally dared people to email the school about NCAA violations. They were happy to do so.
Fun Fact: Liberty is the 12th-youngest program in the FBS (this is their first official game as a full FBS team, by the way), playing their first football game at any level in 1973.
*Note: Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.