'Hoos say they can't look past Liberty

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Attention all Black Friday shoppers: The ACC has announced that the Coastal Division showdown at Scott Stadium between Virginia and Virginia Tech will kick off at noon on the day after Thanksgiving.

But one game at a time. First, UVA has a noon kickoff at home this weekend against a 6-4 Liberty team that, like the Wahoos, is coming off a bye last weekend. UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall believes the Flames are good enough to keep his team from looking ahead to the Hokies.

"I think it's hard when there's a game of that significance, with implications that it has -- meaning that it is a rivalry game, and it is potentially for the Coastal Division championship -- until you watch Liberty on film," Mendenhall said. "And then that's just a quick reality check."

Liberty hasn't played since a 31-24 loss at BYU two weekends ago. Prior to that game, the Flames had won six of seven after starting the season 0-2 -- but since two of those victories came against FCS opponents Hampton and Maine, first-year coach Hugh Freeze's team needs one more to be bowl eligible in the program's first season as a full FBS member.

Saturday's game will be Liberty's second visit to Scott Stadium in as many Novembers. The first-ever meeting between the two schools last year was a one-score game into the third quarter, before UVA pulled away for a 45-24 win.

UVA wide receiver Hasise Dubois said Monday that the Wahoos learned last year not to take Liberty lightly.

"If you look at their record, you may think that they're just another independent team that really doesn't play anyone. Or you look at their schedule, you're like, 'All right, they don't play anyone.' But Liberty is a good team," Dubois said. "Their offense is very dynamic. They have pretty good players on defense as well. So you can't really go into this game sleeping, and thinking they're just one of those games you can just walk in and knock them right over, because they're a good team."

UVA is 7-3 after back-to-back wins at North Carolina and at home against Georgia Tech prior to last weekend's bye. At 5-2 in ACC play, the Wahoos are a half-game in front of 4-2 Virginia Tech and Pitt atop the Coastal Division -- with those two teams meeting this Saturday in Blacksburg.

Virginia is favored by 17 1/2 against the Flames on Saturday. It's the largest line in favor of the Wahoos since Old Dominion was a 27-point underdog on September 21. UVA trailed 17-0 in that game before rallying to win 28-17 -- a fact that quarterback Bryce Perkins brought up when asked Monday about Liberty.

"Shoot, we almost lost to ODU," Perkins said. "And so we can't overlook anybody. We've got to focus, and we are focused. I think we're doing a really good job of dialing in to Liberty. And we've got to keep doing that and keep pressing that issue."

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