Saturday, November 14, 2020, Williams Stadium, Lynchburg, Virginia, noon ET
Catamounts at Flames Betting Preview: Catamounts (+32.5), Flames (-32.5)
Western Carolina Catamounts Betting Preview
Western Carolina is playing three games in the next five weeks before it launches its eight-game conference schedule in late February, starting with the trip to Liberty. FCS programs will play their postseason in April and May.
The Catamounts were 3-9 last year and 2-6 in the Southern Conference under coach Mark Speir, who is entering his ninth year as the program’s top boss.
“We’re going to practice three times this week and they’ve got to be big-time, physical practices,” Spier said in the lead-up to the game. “Again, technique, fundamental practices, and then next week, it’s game week — and that’s fun to say.”
The most famous name in the program might be defensive ends coach Clyde Simmons, a Western Carolina alum who bagged 121.5 sacks in a 15-year NFL career spent mostly with Buddy Ryan in Philadelphia and Arizona.
Western Carolina returns a whopping 17 starters, nine on offense and eight on defense. The Catamounts have a new starter at quarterback in Will Jones, however. Jones threw for 443 yards in a backup role last year.
Liberty Flames Betting Preview
No. 22 Liberty coach Hugh Freeze likes to give his team a weekly challenge
“Let’s make them talk about us,” he said.
That the Flames (7-0) certainly did last week with the biggest win in program history, a 38-35 decision at Virginia Tech that validated their first Top 25 ranking since joining FBS prior to the 2018 season.
Now the task when they host FCS opponent Western Carolina at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Va., is simple: Don’t get caught looking ahead to the following week’s trip to North Carolina State.
Liberty has created a buzz around the program like never before. A good chunk of that is thanks to Freeze, who might still be at Ole Miss, where he authored consecutive wins over Nick Saban’s Alabama in 2014-15, had he not run into off-field problems.
A combination of recruiting violations and phone calls to an escort service led to his resignation in July 2017, forcing the Rebels to vacate 33 victories.
His controversial hiring by Flames athletic director Ian McCaw in December 2018 has paid off handsomely in the win-loss column. Freeze’s ability to run a game has rarely been questioned, and it was on display at Virginia Tech.
Liberty controlled the clock for 37:27, getting a marvelous performance from quarterback Malik Willis. Willis threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns while running for 108 yards and a score. The Flames normally run a high-tempo offense, but Freeze preferred to eat clock and keep the Hokies from mulching their smaller defensive line.
“I believed that if we took care of it, we had a plan to slow the game enough to have a chance to be in it,” he said.
Catamounts at Flames Betting Pick for November 14, 2020
The series is even at 3-3 but the Catamounts and Flames have not played since 2008, when both were competing at the FCS level. That has changed big time with the Flames now ranked in just their second full season as an FBS member. Willis (223.2 yards a game passing, 100.5 rushing) gives the Flame a huge leg up in this one.
Catamounts at Flames Betting Pick:
Flames 45, Catamounts 10
Catamounts at Flames Best Bet for November 14, 2020
Only once in seven games have the Flames failed to hit at least the 30-point mark, but that was 28-7 against another FCS opponent North Alabama. The Catamounts are playing their first game.
Catamounts at Flames Best Bet: UNDER 60.5