The Liberty Flames and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers have a date in the Cure Bowl on Saturday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. This is one of the more highly anticipated smaller bowls this year. No, really, Liberty and Coastal Carolina have been hyped up since the bowls were announced and for good reason. The bowl committee of the Cure Bowl got this matchup right.
We have two of the best smaller programs in the country going at it for bragging rights. Much was made this season of who was the better team. Both had terrific seasons and were talked about in the media for the first time in school history. If you’re just a casual observer of college football, then you might need an introduction, though.
Coastal Carolina went a perfect 11-0 and finished the regular season ranked 12th in the nation. That is of course a school record. Note that the Chanticleers have only been playing in the FBS since 2017. They joined the Sun Belt in 2017, and their program has developed into a contender only a few years later. It doesn’t happen often that a team makes the leap from the FCS to the FBS and finds this much success so early on.
The Chanticleers have bucked the trend, though, and are no longer the team that everyone knows for getting beaten down by Alabama as a warm up game in Week 1. The recruiting at Coastal Carolina should only take off from here. One has to believe that three-time Big South Coach of the Year, Jamey Chadwell, was being eyeballed by big programs before Coastal Carolina extended his contract a couple of weeks ago. At only 43, he might have his pick of the litter in the future.
If Chadwell continues at this pace, he will receive an offer too good to pass up. In any case, he’s solely focused on a very good Liberty team in the Cure Bowl on Saturday. Liberty were equally impressive, as they went 9-1 on the season. The Flames were a point away from upsetting No. 23 NC State on November 21. A 15-14 loss against a quality ACC team is nothing to be ashamed of, though. Liberty followed up with a 45-0 win over UMass to close out the regular season on November 27. Head below for our free Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina pick for December 26, 2020.
Liberty Flames vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Cure Bowl Betting Odds:
Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina Prediction:
Liberty and Coastal Carolina both do a lot of things right, but we’ll see on Saturday which team does it best. Coastal Carolina wrapped up the season with a tight 42-38 win over Troy to preserve their perfect record. I have to believe that the Chanticleers were looking ahead in that game and took their eyes off the Trojans. It nearly bit them and ended their perfect year.
CJ Marable had a big game on the ground for Coastal Carolina. He romped for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns on 6 yards per carry. Quarterback Grayson McCall was strong as well. McCall passed for 338 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, as he continued to add to his already strong numbers. He has passed for 23 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on 69.3% completions. Did I tell you that McCall is a freshman?
The Sun Belt is going to have to deal with McCall beyond this season. In other words, Coastal Carolina should continue to dominate the conference. Marable won’t be moving on to next season. He made the most out of his senior season with 844 yards and 12 touchdowns on 5.2 yards per carry. Along with McCall and Marable, the defense was strong in big games. Holding BYU to only 17 points in a 22-17 was incredibly impressive. The Chanticleers’ defense was the only unit that they had problems with in 2020.
Coastal Carolina conceded 340.7 yards and 17.8 points per game. Liberty has their work cut out for them on Saturday night, but I feel that they are up for the challenge. Malik Willis has been outstanding for Liberty. He’s passed for 20 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on 64% completions. That isn’t the only thing Willis can do, far from it. Willis has rolled on the ground for 807 yards and 10 touchdowns on 6.7 yards per carry. The Flames averaged 483.5 yards of offense and 38.3 points per game. They were 13th in the FBS offensively.
If you think Liberty can’t win with their defense, you haven’t been paying attention. Liberty held an ACC team to 14 points in a 15-14 loss against NC State on November 21. Quarterback Bailey Hockman was held to 154 yards and an interception with no touchdowns. The Flames ranked seventh in the nation with 301.2 yards against per game. They gave up only 19.2 points per contest. The way I see it, a field goal separates Liberty and Coastal Carolina on Saturday in the Cure Bowl.