No. 18 Coastal Carolina, Liberty draw rare attention
Coastal Carolina continues to make history, moving up two spots to No. 18 this week in the College Football Playoff ratings, its highest standing in the poll.
The CFP rating, released Tuesday night, comes two days after the Chanticleers posted the highest AP Top 25 ranking in program history at No. 14, which is also the loftiest rating ever for a Sun Belt Conference team.
“I’m sure we’ll see those media mentions skyrocket this weekend,” Coastal Carolina athletic director Matt Hogue said. “Already, the buzz you have during this week is going to bring enormous attention to our university. What a great time.”
The Chanticleers (9-0) are scheduled to host Liberty (9-1) on Saturday.
The Flames, an independent program ranked No. 25 in the AP Top 25, are also having a historic season under former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. They are off to their most successful 10-game start to a season, breaking the previous best of 8-1-1 to start the 1979 season.
The much-anticipated matchup will draw ESPN’s “College Football GameDay” show to Conway, S.C.
The game, pitting two old rivals from the Big South Conference, might be the closest thing to a bowl game that Liberty will experience this season.
The Flames do not have a guaranteed conference tie-in with a bowl. Without any win requirement for teams to qualify for bowls this season because of COVID-19, bowls are expected to fill their games with their designated conference affiliations.
“No idea if we will beat Coastal or not, but if we do, I think we have … the most impressive wins in the nation compared to the other Group of Five schedules,” Freeze said about Liberty’s bowl outlook.
Coastal Carolina clinched the Sun Belt East Division title last week with a 49-14 win at Texas State, its 10th straight win dating to last season. The Chanticleers were picked to finish last in the conference’s preseason poll.
“That’s so special,” running back CJ Marable said. “We’re all excited because we know last few years since I’ve been here, we’ve been 5-7 back to back. Everything falls into line like we thought it was going to be. It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing to be there.”
Marable ran for 157 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in a driving rainstorm at Texas State. The win came after Coastal Carolina’s 34-23 victory against visiting Appalachian State, which entered that game 6-1.
“It wasn’t an easy game to play with the weather up here (at Texas State),” Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell said. “Everybody was talking about how this could potentially be a trap game with the big win we had last week, but our team came out focused from the opening kickoff.”
Liberty has a balanced offense, led by quarterback Malik Willis, who is the first in program history with 20 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns in the same season.
Willis has completed 151 out of 236 pass attempts for 2,040 yards with 20 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also leads the Flames with 807 rushing yards on 120 carries with 10 TDs.
–Field Level Media