BYU fans can breathe easy this week. The Cougars survived another close call against Cincinnati on Saturday, in a game where the lead went back and forth. The BYU offense finally erupted late in the game and the defense clamped down, and BYU scored 21 unanswered points to close out a 38-24 game that was a lot closer than the final score indicated. Good news for BYU, is that they face the woeful Wagner College Seahawks of Staten Island, New York, at home in Provo, with a bye week following, before heading to the Bay Area to take on the Spartans of San Jose State. In a way, facing an FCS team like Wagner is like a second bye for the Cougars, as many of the starters are not expected to play very much, meaning that the backups should see considerable action.
One of the most promising of those backups is running back Francis Bernard. Bernard has performed admirably in spelling Algernon Brown, who was pressed into service as the feature back due to Adam Hine's ankle injury, which has sidelined him since the Michigan game. Bernard is a big, strong back, much like Brown, but he has a bit more explosiveness, and runs similarly to former Cougar standout and all-time leading rusher Harvey Unga, who could make people miss as well as truck them. While Brown is a bulldozer without a second gear or much shiftiness, Bernard both has a surprising second gear once he breaks loose and can make people miss in addition to breaking tackles. Given the fact that BYU should easily eclipse 40 points in this game, Bernard figures to see a lot more carries than Brown.
Wagner's defense doesn't have the size or the athleticism to match up to BYU's offensive line in the run game. The Cougars should be able to run over, around, and through the porous Wagner defense. I look for Bernard to rack up the yards in relief of Brown once he gets his touches. BYU is going to put up a good deal of points and then just run the ball in an attempt to get the clock to zeroes. He should get at least a hundred yards, and the team should easily eclipse 250 yards on the ground en route to an easy victory.