Game Day Central: Baylor
Liberty will kick off its first season of transition to FBS status with its first-ever game against Baylor on Saturday, the lone FBS opponent on the Flames' 2017 schedule.
"4 Downs" with the Bears
1. Saturday's contest will mark the first-ever gridiron meeting between Liberty and Baylor, as well as the Baylor head coaching debut of Matt Rhule. Then an assistant coach at Western Carolina, Rhule faced (and defeated) Liberty in the 2002 season opener, 23-3. Legendary Baylor head coach Grant Teaff also has ties to Liberty, as grandson Josh Bookbinder coaches the Flames' linebackers. A 2009 Baylor graduate, Bookbinder worked with the Bears' linebackers as an undergraduate coach during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
2. Two of Liberty's top athletics administrators, Director of Athletics Ian McCaw and Senior Associate Athletics Director - Chief Financial Officer Todd Patulski, previously worked in the same roles at Baylor. Six of the Flames' eight Texas natives hail from within two hours of Waco, including Solomon Ajayi (Frisco), Dontae Duff (Mesquite), Jerome Jackson (Fort Worth), Cooper McCaw (Southlake), Lionell McConnell (Allen) and Solomon McGinty (Navasota). Baylor will be the second Big 12 opponent Liberty has faced on the gridiron, following a 2015 contest at West Virginia.
3. Turner Gill has faced Baylor three times as head coach, including a 2007 meeting with Buffalo and two matchups (2010 & 2011) when he coached Kansas. Gill is seeking his first victory over the Bears.
4. Saturday will mark Liberty Football's fourth all-time matchup with a team from Texas. The Flames posted victories over Texas State in 1990 and 1993 before suffering a 29-14 defeat at SMU last season (Sept. 17, 2016).
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