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Bowl projections after Week 10: Is this the year Liberty finally plays Notre Dame?

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Liberty Arkansas Football

Liberty players D'Wayne Crawford (82) and Treon Sibley (21) head to the locker room after defeating Arkansas in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark.

How many times has Liberty contacted Notre Dame inquiring about a future matchup on the gridiron? Ten times? Twenty? Forty?

The number is higher than that. The Flames haven’t hidden their desire to play the Fighting Irish, whether it’s in South Bend, Lynchburg, a neutral site or even internationally in a Shamrock Series contest.

Nothing has materialized yet. Notre Dame’s schedule is relatively set through the next decade, which will make the Flames and Irish meeting on the gridiron during the regular season fairly difficult.

What about the teams being paired up in a bowl game? That could very well happen this season if a certain projection comes to fruition.

Sports Illustrated's Richard Johnson had been projecting only the New Year’s Six bowl games and select high-profile bowl games but expanded to all 41 this week. His pick for the Camellia Bowl is Liberty and Notre Dame, marking the first time an outlet has projected the independent programs to meet in a bowl game.

It is the bowl matchup Liberty fans will flock to just for the opportunity to see the Flames finally play the Fighting Irish in football.

The bowl projections after Week 10

» Cure Bowl (Dec. 16, 3 p.m., ESPN; Exploria Stadium, Orlando, Florida)

  • Yahoo! Sports (Nick Bromberg): vs. Appalachian State

» Myrtle Beach Bowl (Dec. 19, 2:30 p.m., ESPN; Brooks Stadium, Conway, South Carolina)

  • Pro Football Network (Oliver Hodgkinson): vs. SMU

» Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m., ESPN: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida)

  • Athlon Sports (Steven Lassan): vs. Coastal Carolina

» Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m., ESPN; Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas)

  • Sporting News (Bill Bender): vs. UNLV

» Independence Bowl (Dec. 23, 3 p.m., ESPN; Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana)

  • ESPN (Mark Schlabach): vs. Western Kentucky
  • College Football News: vs. Houston
  • College Sports Madness: vs. East Carolina

» Gasparilla Bowl (Dec. 23, 6:30 p.m., ESPN; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida)

  • Action Network (Brett McMurphy): vs. Georgia Tech

» Camellia Bowl (Dec. 27, noon, ESPN; Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama)

  • CBS Sports (Jerry Palm): vs. South Alabama
  • 247Sports (Brad Crawford): vs. South Alabama
  • Sports Illustrated (Richard Johnson): vs. Notre Dame

» First Responder Bowl (Dec. 27, TBD, ESPN; Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas)

  • ESPN (Kyle Bonagura): vs. UNLV

» Birmingham Bowl (Dec. 27, TBD, ESPN; Protective Life Stadium, Birmingham, Alabama)

  • The Athletic (Scott Dochterman and Stewart Mandel): vs. Cincinnati
  • USA Today (Erick Smith): vs. Memphis

» Liberty Bowl (Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m., ESPN; Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee)

  • Bleacher Report (Kerry Miller): vs. Oklahoma

Where will the Flames end up?

The Independence Bowl continues to be the most prominent projection with Army now needing to win out in order to become bowl eligible. The Black Knights can reach the seven-win mark with a Dec. 10 win over Navy, which comes six days after the bowl selections are made, and that means they need to win their next three games (Troy, UConn and UMass) in order to be in that discussion. The Trojans will be a tough test for Army, and at least three projections have the Black Knights falling short.

The other projection is the Camellia Bowl. As noted earlier, one of the projections is against Notre Dame. The other two are against South Alabama, which would present a bundle of storylines. Hugh Freeze hired Kane Wommack on his staff at Ole Miss as a graduate assistant, and Wommack currently leads USA. Corey Batoon, who spent the 2020 season as Liberty’s safeties coach, is the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator.

What about the Liberty Bowl, you ask? Kerry Miller brought up a valid argument as to why the Flames would be placed there in the SEC’s slot. With potentially up to four SEC teams making NY6 bowl games and the league not having enough teams to fill their remaining bowl tie-ins, a potential 11-win Liberty team would be too attractive not to play against a team from the Big 12.

If Liberty does get matched up against either Cincinnati or Houston, it could be a potential passing of the torch from one of the two top Group of Five programs (Bearcats and Cougars) to the one that is ready to take the mantle (Flames).

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