Liberty closed out its season with the program’s first ever bowl win, holding down Georgia Southern. Here are the 5 things that matter in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl.
FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl: 5 Things That Matter
Final Score: Liberty 23, Georgia Southern 16
CFN Prediction: Liberty 34, Georgia Southern 30
Line: Georgia Southern -5.5, o/u: 58.5
5. Liberty’s fast rise
The former star in the Big South at the FCS level made the move up to the FBS 2017, and capped off a terrific first season under Hugh Freeze with the program’s first ever bowl win.
It might have been a rough second half of the season at times – there weren’t any wins over the Power Five programs this year – there were two wins FCS teams, and two wins over New Mexico State …
And a bowl win in the program’s first year of bowl eligiblity.
For a program that’s living in the world of the independents, and wants to make a big splash and be the new BYU, or better, it locked up its head coach with the biggest contract given to any Group of Five head coach, and now the program has a signature victory, even if it had to sweat a bit.
4. The Georgia Southern running game …
Didn’t do what it was supposed to.
For this to have worked, the Georgia Southern ground attack had to control the clock and the game throughout, and it was off from the start.
The offense was stuffed way too often, the ground game was only able to come up with 194 yards and a touchdown, and it had to turn to the passing attack to try getting back into the game.
Shai Werts did what he could. He ran 22 times for 57 yards, with no ability to crank out any big dashes or get free. He completed 10-of-19 passes for 95 yards with a pick, but the running game needed to dominate. It didn’t.
3. Liberty is known for its offense, but …
It was the defensive front that did the job after getting a few weeks to prepare for what was coming.
There were no running lanes for the option attack.
It held Georgia Southern to just 289 yards of total offense and got off the field time and again with key third down stops. It forced the Eagles to have plenty of third-and-longs, and that doesn’t work for a team that needs to have easy chances to move the chains.
Georgia Southern only converted 4-of-17 third down tries, and it screwed itself up too often with ten penalties stalling too many drives. Even so, Liberty needed to work to close it out despite controlling the game – Georgia Southern got TOTALLY hosed at the end; there should’ve been one second left on the clock – and now …
2. Hugh Freeze got a bowl win
Ole Miss might have fallen back after his tenure, and it’s in rebuilding mode now under Lane Kiffin, but Freeze was able to rise up from the controversy, got that big contract, and now he has a bowl victory.
Vacated win, schmacated win. He was 3-1 in bowl games Ole Miss before it all blew up.
Now, with this, he’s going to earn the reputation of being a top bowl coach – he has figured out how to win these things.
Yeah, there’s lots of baggage. Yeah, he’s always going to have that reputation from his days at Ole Miss. Yeah, he’s a fantastic football coach.
1. The Liberty offensive stars came out
This was a veteran Flame team that showed up big with all of its stars shining.
Veteran QB Stephen Calvert threw two picks and wasn’t accurate enough, but he also threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns.
Antonio Gandy-Golden caught a game-high five passes for 63 yards and a score, and Johnny Huntley came up with a huge big play, and Frankie Hickson ran 22 times for 120 yards.
The offensive playmakers did enough to help the team control the clock, the game, and do just enough to pull off an eighth win.
And a historic one.
Cure Bowl History
Dec. 21, 2019 Liberty 23, Georgia Southern 16
Dec. 15, 2018 Tulane 41, Louisiana 24
Dec. 16, 2017 Georgia State 27, WKU 17
Dec. 17, 2016 Arkansas State 31, UCF 13
Dec. 19, 2015 San Jose State 27 Georgia State 16