Why Coastal Carolina Will Win
– Did you see that BYU team that destroyed UCF in the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl? Coastal Carolina was able to figure it out in the thrilling 22-17 win – the team has the talent, the scheme, and the ability to control the game throughout.
It starts with the lines – if you can hold up against the BYU offensive and defensive fronts, you can handle just about anyone. Coastal Carolina doesn’t allow sacks, its defensive side gets behind the line, and the energy and effort don’t stop.
– The offense is brilliant at controlling the clock, getting everyone moving and the short-range receivers in space, and dominating on third downs. Liberty is fantastic at all of those things, too, but the Chanticleers are just a wee bit sharper overall. QB Grayson McCall has thrown 23 touchdown passes, two picks, and he has rushed for 473 yards and six touchdowns. He keeps the chains moving.
– Not to schedule-shame a team that played three ACC teams and beat two of them, but there were a whole lot of free spaces on the Liberty slate. FIU, ULM, and UMass were among the three worst FBS teams this season, and Southern Miss didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Throw in games against North Alabama and Western Carolina, and there’s a lot of inflation to the stats.
Yeah, the team looked great when it stepped up against Virginia Tech, but the offense was slowed by NC State. Coastal Carolina is a step up in competition to at least the level of the mid-tier ACCers – at least this year.
Why Liberty Will Win
– Yeah, Coastal Carolina beat BYU, and it took out Kansas on the road, but Liberty hung tough with the ACC. It’s got an SEC-level head coach in Hugh Freeze, an SEC-level quarterback in all-around offensive machine Malik Willis, and it has enough great running backs to make it all go.
Like Coastal Carolina, Liberty is brilliant at getting its playmakers in space with quick plays on the outside, and it has the home run hitting ability in both phases.
– For all of the good things Coastal Carolina does, the secondary has been hit a bit ever since the wipeout of Georgia State, giving up over 200 yards in each game since.
Troy provided a big push in the 42-38 loss with 354 yards with big play after big play, and Willis can do that, too. He threw 20 touchdown passes with just four picks – three of them came against NC State – with plenty of deep shots.
– It’s an active Coastal Carolina defensive front, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of plays behind the line. The run defense was able to stop Georgia Southern’s option offense, but it wasn’t able to keep Louisiana in check and got hit for over 200 yards by the Appalachian State ground game. Liberty will run for over 200, but …