The No. 9 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will look to cap off a perfect season when they take on the rival No. 23 Liberty Flames in the Cure Bowl on Saturday evening in Orlando. Coastal Carolina was snubbed from the New Year's Six at 11-0 after the Sun Belt Championship Game against the No. 19 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns was canceled. Liberty also had the best season in its brief FBS history at 9-1 overall, having most recently played on November 27 in a 45-0 win over the Massachusetts Minuteman as a massive 35-0 point favorite.
This will be the first bowl game in Coastal Carolina's four-year tenure as a member of college football's top division. Liberty earned its first bowl win in last year's Cure Bowl with a 23-16 victory over Georgia Southern.
(Late line movements and injury reports were updated on Friday evening.)
The line has stayed relatively stable for this contest as the week has gone on. Coastal Carolina opened as a six-point favorite when the lines came out and, as of Friday, now is favored by 6.5 or seven points at the majority of sportsbooks for this contest. 60 percent of the bets ATS are backing the Flames with the points as they look to earn the victory in the Cure Bowl.
The total for this contest has dropped somewhat during this week. After opening at 60 points, the total has slipped down to 55.5 or 56 points, depending on your sportsbook of choice. A hefty majority, 76 percent, of the bets on the total are expecting this contest to still end up falling short of the mark.
Game-time Weather: It’s going to be a cooler evening in the Sunshine State for this contest. At kickoff, the temperature is expected to be in the high-40s under clear skies. The mercury will drop down into the low-40s during the game with no chance of precipitation in the forecast. Winds are expected from the north around five miles an hour with the wind gusts kicking up to about seven miles per hour during the game.
Coastal Carolina's rematch with Louisiana canceledThe Chanticleers will be recognized as Sun Belt co-champions after COVID protocols shut down last Saturday's conference title game. Coastal Carolina survived a scare in its last game, beating the Troy Trojans 42-38 as a 12-point favorite. Troy scored touchdowns with 2:48 and 1:22 left to erase a 12-point Coastal lead and go up 38-35, but the Chanticleers marched right down the field and got the win on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Grayson McCall to Jaivon Heiligh.
Coastal Carolina's dynamic offense racked up 514 yards of total offense, and the defense forced three Troy turnovers to survive the upset bid. McCall capped off a terrific redshirt freshman season by completing 24 of 29 passes for 338 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
“We found a way to get it done and that’s what championship teams do,” head coach Jamey Chadwell said to the Associated Press. “It wasn’t pretty and it looked like it was dire straits. “Our quarterback looked like a freshman on the second to last drive. He didn’t look like a freshman on that last drive."
The Chanticleers had an excellent regular season against the spread at 8-2-1, with the major highlights coming in a 22-17win over the No. 16 BYU Cougars as a 10-point underdog and a 30-27 win over Louisiana as a nine-point underdog. Overs went 6-5 in Coastal Carolina games this season, and the over hit in three of the last four Chanticleers games.
Chadwell's unique hybrid-option offense racked up 37.5 points per game to rank 18th nationally on 446.8 yards per game. Coastal Carolina's defense stepped up in a major way over the last half of the season, finishing 15th in the country in scoring at 18.7 points per game allowed on 340.7 yards allowed per contest.
McCall was named first-team all-Sun Belt, completing 151 of 218 pass attempts for 2170 yards, 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions, along with 96 carries for 473 yards and six scores. CJ Marable carried the ball 162 times for 844 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead the prolific Chanticleers rushing offense while adding 30 catches for 220 yards and seven scores.
The Chanticleers have not released an updated injury report ahead of the bowl game. Offensive lineman Antwine Loper (ankle) and linebacker Kendricks Gladney Jr. (knee) both left the Troy game and were ruled out for the Sun Belt Championship, and may not be available for Saturday.
Coastal Carolina Injury Report:
No Injuries Reported.
Liberty looks for 10-win seasonWith the highest win total in school history already under their belt, the Flames have a chance to finish 10-1 with a victory on Saturday. The Flames predictably hammered UMass 45-0 in their last game nearly a month ago, going up 31-0 at half on three Malik Willis touchdown passes before cruising in the second.
Liberty completely dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Minutemen 629-227 in total yards. Willis completed 16 of 24 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns and scored on a 54-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, while Joshua Mack added 109 yards and two touchdowns on only 11 carries.
The Flames enter bowl season at an excellent 8-2 against the, including beating Virginia Tech 38-35 as a 17-point underdog and narrowly losing to N0. 24 NC State 15-14 as a four-point underdog. Overs are 6-4 in Liberty games this season, although the under hit in the last two games of the Flames' regular season.
Freeze's offense put up big numbers in his first year at Liberty, averaging 38.3 points per game to rank 17th in the nation on 483.5 yards per game. The Flames were also in the top 20 in scoring defense at 19.2 points per game allowed on 301.2 yards per contest allowed.
Willis, a transfer from Auburn, had an excellent first season with Liberty, completing 151 of 236 pass attempts for 2,040 yards, 20 touchdowns and four interceptions while also piling up 807 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Defensive end Durrell Johnson racked up 10 tackles for loss, eight sacks and one interception.
Linebacker Anthony Butler, who is second on the team with 58 tackles and leads the Flames with two interceptions, is questionable with an undisclosed injury. Wide receivers CJ Yarbrough and Jaivian Lofton are also questionable.
Liberty Injury Report:
No Injuries Reported.
Trends via Covers.com. Coastal Carolina is:
- 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine games overall.
- 5-0 ATS in its last five games against a team with a winning record.
- 5-1 ATS in its last six nonconference games.