UMass announced one month ago it was reversing course and looking to play football this fall as more and more conferences elected to piece together shortened schedules through the coronavirus pandemic.
Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw immediately touched base with his counterpart at UMass, Ryan Bamford, and the two began discussions surrounding the FBS independent programs potentially playing Thanksgiving weekend. The original schedule for both teams featured the Minutemen traveling to Lynchburg to play the Flames on Nov. 28.
The two programs nailed down the date Wednesday. Liberty will play UMass at noon on Black Friday at Williams Stadium. It is the third in a 10-game series between the teams slated to be played through the 2027 season.
“We decided to go ahead and play it on the scheduled weekend,” McCaw said in a phone interview, adding UMass requested the Black Friday date.
The game is slated to be streamed on ESPN3.
Two of Liberty’s first three home games were moved to a linear network. The Flames played on ESPNU against Florida International and on ESPN2 against Louisiana-Monroe.
“We’ve requested that consideration for a linear game, but right now it’s on ESPN3,” McCaw said.
UMass played its first game this past weekend and lost 41-0 at Georgia Southern. The Minutemen also have a game scheduled Nov. 7 at Marshall.
The Flames (5-0) are scheduled to host Southern Miss (1-3, 1-1 Conference USA) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Liberty coach Hugh Freeze said Monday he’s been told the Golden Eagles’ testing results have “looked very favorable and positive … as far as moving forward with the game.”
Southern Miss did not travel to Texas-El Paso this past weekend because of COVID-19 issues. Interim coach Scotty Walden said he would have been without 20-plus players and down to 44 to 45 scholarship players for the trip to UTEP.
Walden, though, received a positive antigen test result Tuesday morning and was slated to take a PCR test Wednesday to confirm the results.
“We’ve been very fortunate to date. … Having an 11th game just gives us a little bit more of a cushion in terms of our season,” McCaw said. “Our team is playing extremely well right now and it gives them another opportunity to compete.”
Liberty also announced it moved its Nov. 14 kickoff against Western Carolina from 1 p.m. to noon. That game will remain on ESPN3.
McCaw said Liberty elected to move the final two home games to noon starts to make it easier for fans to make those games.
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