Editor’s note: BYU will replace Liberty as Coastal Carolina’s opponent after COVID-19 issues prevented Liberty from playing
No. 14 Coastal Carolina and No. 25 Liberty are both smashing the college football odds. Too bad only one of them can beat the spread this Saturday.
Liberty Flames vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Saturday, December 05, 2020 – 02:00 PM EST at Brooks Stadium
Here’s a rare treat for our college football picks: A mid-major matchup between two ranked teams. Actually, scratch that – the No. 25 Liberty Flames (9-1 SU, 8-2 ATS) left the Big South in 2018 join the FBS as an independent team, while the No. 14 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (9-0 SU, 7-1-1 ATS) represent the Sun Belt, one of the lowest majors there is. Still, if you’re hunting for value, Saturday’s game should be loaded. Let’s see what’s on the big board today…
Yup, just as we suspected. The Chanticleers opened as 7-point home faves on the college football odds board at Intertops, then moved all the way to –11.5 by press time; as usual, the sharps may have gotten some good value early, but the line has moved too far in the other direction. Tale as old as time.
There’s no question that Coastal Carolina are the better team on paper. They’re No. 20 overall (No. 14 offense, No. 38 defense) on the F+ Ratings at Football Outsiders heading into Week 14, while the Flames are a few steps back at No. 43 (No. 31 offense, No. 58 defense). If you prefer the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference, it’s Chanticleers 13.38, Flames 3.66. That’s close to 10 points right there, and they’re playing in Conway, so –11.5 looks about right.
Or does it? Jeff Sagarin projects the Chanticleers at –6.39 (Rating) and –9.87 (eigenvector), and with attendance at Brooks Stadium capped at 5,000 because of coronavirus, maybe there’s some betting value with Liberty in this contest. They’ve made great strides under head coach Hugh Freeze, who was the big kahuna at Ole Miss before they looked at his cellphone records and found he was canoodling with escorts; other violations were discovered after his departure. Freeze led the Flames to their first bowl game in Year One – okay, it was the Cure Bowl, but they did beat Georgia Southern – and they’re well on their way again in Year Two.
Those Chanticleers, though. They’ve made great strides themselves since joining the FBS in 2016, although there was a bump in the road when Jamey Chadwell first took over as head coach in 2017 after Joe Moglia fell ill. Go figure, Chadwell has his own closet full of skeletons from his previous stop at Charleston Southern, where he led the Buccaneers to the Big South title in 2015 – thanks in part to the use of ineligible players, which caused said title to be vacated. Chadwell and Freeze should take notes.
Anyway, with both teams crushing it ATS, this is another one of those games where the spread isn’t one of the best bets available. Under 57 would have been nice when it opened at Heritage Sports, with Sagarin projecting a combined score of 54.05 points, and the weather forecast calling for rain on Friday and Saturday before clearing up just before kick-off. But the sharps hoovered that one up, as well – the total’s down to 53.5 points now. Give us Liberty for a small sum, then, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.
My Pick: Liberty +11.5 (-110) at Intertops (visit our Intertops Review)