Our preview content continues for Saturday’s 2021 LendingTree Bowl as Liberty and Eastern Michigan are set to kickoff at 5:45 EST from Mobile’s Hancock-Whitney Stadium.
The 23rd edition of the LendingTree Bowl features one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Liberty’s Malik Willis, who will lead the Flames against an Eastern Michigan program playing in their third bowl game in four seasons. Let’s take a look at three players to watch in a game that has been decided by 10 points or more in each of the last four contests.
According to DraftKings, Liberty is an eight-point favorite with the over/under set at 63.5 points.*
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
While this year’s crop of quarterbacks entering the NFL Draft aren’t as highly-touted as 2020’s list that saw several big-time names, Liberty’s Malik Willis is a player worth watching — especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to see him before. After starting his career at Auburn, Willis has been one of the most electric players in the nation in his two seasons with the Flames.
The 6-1, 215-pounder has flourished in Hugh Freeze’s RPO system, throwing for over 4,800 yards and rushing for nearly 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Chris Creighton’s club has faced some potent offenses en route to a 7-5 record, but Willis is a player who has the talent to be a potential top pick in the upcoming draft.
While certainly not as highly-touted as his counterpart on Saturday, Eastern Michigan’s Ben Bryant will be depended on if the Eagles are going to be able to pull off the upset.
The Cincinnati transfer is on the verge of topping 3,000 yards passing on the season and has had some prolific outings in 2021, throwing for over 300 yards four times this year — however, three of those contests were losses for EMU.
Clark had an excellent bowl game last year in Liberty’s Cure Bowl win over Coastal Carolina, recording five tackles and a sack. While his numbers took a slight dip this season compared to last, Clark is still an excellent pass rusher who if unaccounted for, can make life difficult for EMU’s Bryant. Expect Clark to be hungry, seeking his first sack in over a month.