When BYU and Liberty square off in Lynchburg, Virginia on Saturday afternoon at Williams Stadium, it will be historic for the Liberty program.
Head football coach Hugh Freeze did not mince words.
Per a video from Liberty football’s Twitter account, Freeze addressed the team.
“For those of you who are lucky enough to play in this game Saturday night, you’re getting ready to make history. It is, without a doubt, the biggest home football game this program has ever had. Every hotel in town is sold out. The stadium is sold out.”
We’ve prepared for moments like this. pic.twitter.com/DGW4MibvRD— Liberty Football (@LibertyFootball) October 17, 2022
Freeze is correct. The program announced that the game is indeed, sold out. The Flames appear to be ready for the Cougars.
The question is, will BYU be ready? The Cougars are still licking their wounds from consecutive defeats at the hands of two physical Power 5 programs in Notre Dame and Arkansas.
Not only that, but BYU has serious questions on defense. Arkansas put on a clinic at LaVell Edwards Stadium on offense. At times, it looked like they were running against air, doing whatever they wanted against BYU.
BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki is under fire for the poor performance of the Cougar defense. Over the last two games, the Cougars have allowed over 1,100 yards and 80 points.
Liberty is not an offensive juggernaut, ranking 67th in scoring and 64th in total yards. On paper, the Cougars should be able to slow the Flames’ attack. Quarterback Johnathan Bennett takes over for 2022 NFL Draft third round pick Malik Willis. Running back Dae Dae Hunter leads the way on the ground with 612 yards with seven touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
BYU’s defensive stats are about as scary as your local haunted corn maze. They are 99th in scoring, 94th in total yards allowed, and 114th in rushing defense. They have a chance to improve upon those numbers this Saturday against Liberty. The Cougar defense needs to make quick and dramatic improvements to stop the bleeding.
Liberty also seems to be taking a page out of Utah’s book regarding their uniforms.
It appears that Liberty is pulling out all the stops for this game. They became an FBS program in 2018. To this point, the biggest home game for Liberty was against Syracuse in 2019. This will be the biggest one yet.
The Liberty fanbase, coaching staff, and players seem extremely motivated for this game. They do not want to disappoint in front of a sold out crowd on an ESPN network channel (ESPNU). This will be their first game not on ESPN+, aside from their game at Wake Forest, which was on the ACC Network. They also want to avenge their 31-24 loss to the Cougars back in 2019 in Provo. They had a chance to drive down and tie the game late, but failed.
Liberty feels like BYU is beatable. They see the Cougars as wounded and vulnerable, which they are.
BYU better be ready.