The Eastern Michigan Eagles and Liberty Flames meet at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
This isn’t the most inspiring bowl game, and I don’t believe Liberty planned on going to the LendingTree Bowl after they went 10-1 last season, but here they are against Eastern Michigan of the MAC.
— LendingTree Bowl (@LT_Bowl) December 16, 2021
Liberty showed nothing down the stretch and didn’t deserve much more than the LendingTree Bowl after they tripped over themselves with three straight losses down the stretch.
A 27-14 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels on the road, yeah, expected. However, coming back following a bye week and losing to UL Lafayette, 42-14?
They wrapped up the season with a 31-16 loss at home to the Army Black Knights on November 27. It’s been a long minute since Liberty have played, and the same goes for Eastern Michigan who have been off since a 31-10 loss to the Central Michigan Chippewas.
Both teams went 7-5 this season to earn an invite to this lower-tier event. Liberty won the Cure Bowl last season with a 37-34 in overtime in an entertaining contest against another Group of Five school that impressed in 2020.
Eastern Michigan is appearing in only their fifth bowl in school history. It’s their fourth since going to the Bahamas Bowl in 2016. They ended a bowl-less drought dating back to 1987 in 2016.
The 1987 California Bowl over San Jose State, 30-27, is their only recorded bowl win in school history. In other words, bowl games mean something to Eastern Michigan. It might only be the LendingTree Bowl, but they want this win.
— Liberty Football (@LibertyFootball) December 17, 2021
For Liberty, putting a game good tape together for quarterback Malik Willis is probably the most important aspect of this bowl. Willis is prepping for the NFL Draft in 2022 and wants to put a quality final college performance together.
He’s a fine quarterback with a big arm, but did nothing this season to solidify a top-5 selection. It doesn’t look like Willis will be the first quarterback off the board at this point. Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral could both go ahead of Willis.
Head below for our free Eastern Michigan vs. Liberty LendingTree Bowl pick on December 18, 2021.
Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. Liberty Flames LendingTree Bowl Betting Odds and Team Statistics:
The following odds are courtesy of BetUS:
|Eastern Michigan Eagles||+9 (-105)||+270||Over 58.5 (-110)|
|Liberty Flames||-9 (-110)||-330||Under 58.5 (-110)|
|Team Data||Eastern Michigan Eagles||Liberty Flames|
|Points Per Game||31.0||31.8|
|Points Against Per Game||21.7||27.8|
|Passing Yards Per Game||263.6||251.7|
|Rushing Yards Per Game||118.0||176.4|
Eastern Michigan vs. Liberty Prediction:
Malik Willis passed for 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on 61.6% completions. His ability to take off and run makes him an intriguing prospect, but he’s not going to be able to run like this in the NFL.
Willis gained 820 yards and 11 touchdowns on 4.3 yards per carry. He has to depend on his arm some more, and I wasn’t overly impressed with him against bad competition.
Having said that, it’s not like Willis is dealing with top rated offensive weapons. The same could have been said for Josh Allen at Wyoming.
Allen had mediocre numbers in college because of the team he was working around. Willis has the tools to be good in the NFL, but he’s a guy that I believe will have to go to the right team.
The offense has sputtered down the stretch with 14.6 points scored per game through their last three attempts. Willis passed for 3 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in those performances.
It was the Liberty defense that was filled with playmakers. The Flames are 11th in the NFL with 315.3 yards allowed per game.
They gave up little against the pass, with 174.2 yards allowed per game. There were only four teams in the country better statistically against the pass than Liberty.
Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. Liberty Flames Betting Trends:
- 5-0 ATS in their previous five games in December
- 15-6 ATS in their previous 21 games versus non-conference
- 28-13 ATS in their previous 41 games as an underdog
- 2-5 ATS in their previous seven games on the road on a Saturday
- UNDER 5-2 in their previous seven games as an underdog
- 4-0 ATS in their previous four games in December
- 1-5 ATS in their previous six games overall
- UNDER is 5-1 in their previous six games versus a team with a winning record
- UNDER is 6-1 in their previous seven games after scoring less than 20 points
- UNDER is 3-1-1 in their previous five game after a loss
This is a big ask for the 83rd rank offense in the country. The Eagles have scored less than 30 points in their last three outings. They will probably need more for a straight up win on Saturday.
Ben Bryant has passed for 14 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 68.8% completions. I don’t see Bryant matching up well versus the Liberty secondary.
I suspect that the Eagles are going to get up for this bowl, but is it going to matter against an athletic Flames’ defense? The Eastern Michigan has at least stepped up at times this season.
Liberty has Willis, but they’ve been waiting for another playmaker to help out. It hasn’t happened, and Willis has been running around behind a bad offensive line.
This doesn’t look like a bowl matchup to remember. I don’t care much because I’m just looking for the UNDER to come through. In a 35-21 or 31-23 final I’m looking at the UNDER.