A conference crown is on the line Friday night when No. 24 Liberty -- one of five remaining undefeated teams in the FBS -- hosts New Mexico State for the 2023 Conference USA Championship Game on CBS Sports Network. The Flames enter the contest seeking perfection in their first season under coach Jamey Chadwell. A New Year's Six berth is also still on the table if the dominoes fall in the right direction.
For New Mexico State, 2023 has been the continuation of an impressive turnaround under second-year coach Jerry Kill. A program that posted a dismal 35-114 record under the two previous regimes from 2009-2021 has already won 17 games in less than two seasons under Kill's watch. Now comes a chance for New Mexico State to secure a conference title in its first season as Conference USA member.
Follow along withas New Mexico State clashes with Liberty.
How to watch Liberty vs. New Mexico State live
Date: Friday, Dec. 1 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Williams Stadium -- Lynchburg, Virginia
Liberty vs. New Mexico State: Need to know
Liberty won't stop winning: Luring Chadwell away from Coastal Carolina is looking like more and more like home-run hire for Liberty. Not only do the Flames just keep winning, but they often do so comfortably. Each of their last five victories have come by multiple scores, and only twice all season has Liberty found itself in a game decided by a touchdown or less. The Flames also beat New New Mexico State in the regular season, 33-17. Chadwell has won nine or more games in each of the last four seasons. He was 31-6 in his final three years at Coastal Carolina, including 11-win seasons in 2020 and 2021.
Aggies on the rise: Kill may have seemed past his prime when he arrived New Mexico State in time for the 2022 campaign, but the former Power Five coach as quickly proven all skeptics wrong by guiding the Aggies to consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the 1960s. New Mexico State's 10 wins includes a stunner at Auburn in Week 12 after entering as 23.5-point underdog. The total is already the program's most in a single season since it finished 11-0 in 1960. If the Aggies pull the upset Friday and win their to-be-determined bowl game, Kill will have engineered a historic and improbable finish.
Top scoring offense vs. top scoring defense: Much of the Liberty's success in 2023 can be attributed to an offense that is in a class of its own within Conference USA. The Flames lead the league at an average of 40.1 points per game. That is more 10 than points better than Western Kentucky and Jacksonville State, who are tied for second at 29.8 points per contest. However, Liberty's high-powered offense will be tested Friday against a New Mexico State defense that is holding opponents to just 19.7 points per game. The Aggies surrendered 10 points or less three times in the final six games of the regular season, so they're playing with confidence entering Friday.
Liberty vs. New Mexico State prediction, picks
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Defense may win championships, but we already saw Liberty put up points at home on New Mexico State once this season, and both teams have improved since they met back in early September. That's not to say that the Aggies can't or won't put up a better fight this time around, but it's worth asking just how much a stout defense will matter against what is far and away the conference's best offense. New Mexico State has surprised more than once this season, but Liberty has come too far to let off the gas with an undefeated season and league title at stake. The Flames' offense will be enough to get the job done as they capture their first conference title at the FBS level and inch closer to a potential 14-0 finish. Pick: Liberty -10.5
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