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It’s a battle between a brand new FBS program that is an independent and an old school team from the SEC on the gridiron. The Liberty Flames continue their first season as a FBS program as they travel to face the Auburn Tigers Saturday afternoon. Liberty was defeated 45-24 on the road by Virginia last Saturday in their last contest. Auburn was dumped 27-10 on the road by #5 Georgia in their last tilt last Saturday. This marks the first time that the two programs have met on the gridiron as FBS opponents.
Liberty Flames Looking to Reach .500
Liberty suffered their second straight loss as they were defeated on the road by Virginia last week. The Flames are 4-5 in their first season as a FBS program as former Buffalo and Kansas coach Turner Gill works to keep this team pointed in the right direction. Liberty cut a 21-7 deficit to 21-17 in the second quarter and was down just 31-24 early in the second half before running out of steam. The Flames hung tough as they were outgained 389-354 and gave up 24 first downs to their 20. Liberty owned the time of possession battle by a 30:29 to 29:31 margin but turned the ball over three times while forcing just one turnover. In addition, the Flames allowed a kick return for a score. Liberty is 4-5 ATS this season while the over is 6-3 in their games.
— Liberty Football (@LibertyFootball) November 10, 2018
The Flames enter this contest 17th in the FBS in passing offense with 304.4 yards per game and 78th in rushing by putting up 159.2 yards per contest. Liberty stands 28th in the nation in scoring offense with 35.4 points per game but are leaky defensively, ranking 124th by allowing 39 per contest. Stephen Calvert has completed 195 of 349 passes for 2,677 yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. DJ Stubbs is one of two for 39 yards while Mason Cunningham is three of six for 24 yards. On the ground, Frankie Hickson leads the team with 175 carries for 771 yards and 10 scores. Peytton Pickett (95 carries, 425 yards, nine TD) and Kentory Matthews (35 carries, 233 yards, TD) are next in line. Antonio Gandy-Golden leads the team with 53 receptions for 882 yards and nine scores. DJ Stubbs (44 grabs, 581 yards, TD) and B.J. Farrow (30 catches, 455 yards, four TD) are also solid options in the passing game. Aaron Peart is 24 of 25 on extra points and two of three on field goals with a long of 22. Alex Probert has hit 17 of 18 extra points and two of three field goals with a long of 37.
Auburn Tigers Hope to Pick Up Win Heading Into Iron Bowl
Auburn has been up and down this season: after starting the year 4-1, the Tigers have lost three of their last five after getting shut down by Georgia. The team hopes to rebound with a win here to head into the Iron Bowl next week against #1 Alabama with a little momentum. Auburn led 7-3 after one quarter against Georgia only to be outscored 17-3 in the second quarter. The Tigers were blanked in the second half to end up with the loss. In the game, Auburn was outgained heavily by a 516-274 margin: they lost the first down battle (24-19) and were dominated in time of possession by a 38:15 to 21:45 margin. The Tigers forced the only turnover of the game but couldn’t get enough going offensively. Auburn is 4-6 ATS this season while the under is 7-3 in their games.
— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) November 11, 2018
The Tigers are 84th in the FBS in passing offense with 217 yards per contest and 87th in rushing with 149.9 yards per game on the ground. Auburn stands 88th in the FBS in scoring offense with 26.5 points per game and a stellar 14th in scoring defense as they give up 18.3 points per contest. Jarrett Stidham is 184 of 300 for 2,116 yards with 10 touchdowns against four interceptions. JaTarvious Whitlow leads the Tigers with 117 carries for 668 yards and four touchdowns this season. Kam Martin (73 carries, 272 yards, TD) and Shaun Shivers (43 carries, 266 yards, two TD) are next in line in the ground game. Ryan Davis leads the team with 56 receptions for 468 yards. Darius Slayton (30 catches, 447 yards, TD) and Seth Williams (19 grabs, 370 yards, four TD) are the only other players with more than 15 receptions this season. Anders Carlson has hit all 28 extra points but is just 12 of 22 on field goal attempts with a long of 53: seven of his 10 misses have come from beyond 50 yards. Ian Shannon hit all three extra point attempts without attempting a field goal.
- Tigers are 0-5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game
- Tigers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games after accumulating less than 275 total yards in their previous game
- Tigers are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game.
- Flames are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning home record
- Flames are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games on grass
- Flames are 16-3 ATS in their last 19 non-conference games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Let’s preface this by saying that Auburn should win this game straight up. The Tigers are at home and they’re facing a first-year FBS program. With that said, Auburn is giving four touchdowns in this contest. The Tigers have won exactly two games this season where they would have covered that margin: one came against FCS program Alcorn State while the other was over an Arkansas program that is winless in the SEC. If you’re playing straight up, then by all means, back Auburn but with the line factored in, it’s too much to ask given how the Tigers have struggled to score points of late.
Prediction: Liberty Flames +28
Full-Game Total Pick
Auburn has been trying to get their offense going but it only tends to fire in spurts. There are long stretches in games where the Tigers do absolutely nothing and that’s not a good situation with the #1 Crimson Tide looming next week. Liberty has been better than expected in their first season as a FBS team with four wins and the potential for a couple more, which would bring bowl eligibility. The Flames have covered in their two biggest underdog situations this season, which was last week against Virginia and against Troy in a game they won outright. Can Liberty make Auburn sweat in this one?
The under is 5-0 in the Tigers’ last 5 games after accumulating less than 275 total yards in their previous game, 5-1 in their last 6 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game, 12-3-2 in their last 17 games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game and 11-3 in their last 14 games overall. Even if Auburn gets their offense in gear against a leaky Liberty defense, I see this one falling short of the total. I’m just not sold on this Tigers offensive attack.
Prediction: Under 62