The Cougars escaped with another late victory. Their fifth of the season. If you're keeping track at home the Cougars have come from behind in the 4th quarter in every win this season. That's not happening against Wagner on Saturday. The Seahawks are an FCS team and not a very good one at that, they're 0-6 to start this season and average 13.2 points per contest. To be honest, this may be the worst FCS team BYU has ever played and the worst FCS team any FBS team has played this season. There isn't much to be said at this point about that.
The one major question is, how much will Tanner Mangum play? Coming off a hamstring injury he played the entire game against East Carolina. Obviously, that was out of necessity and he was still healthy enough to go. But against an opponent like Wagner it's assumed that Beau Hoge would be fine to play the majority of the game. BYU shouldn't have any problem beating Wagner regardless of who is behind center. Mangum will get the start but how long he plays remains to be seen. This is a good opportunity to rest his hamstring and give him a chance to get healthy for the rest of the season grind. With how banged up the Cougars are right now I expect to see many of the starters play minimal snaps or not at all. But don't expect anything else other than a blowout.
Here are my three bold predictions for the game:
Beau Hoge will have 250 total yards
As most would expect Mangum isn't going to play the whole game or even most of the game. At most, I think he gets the first half, though I'm expecting a little more than the first quarter of play. Against East Carolina Hoge looked a little scared and unprepared. That shouldn't be surprising to anyone, Mangum was likely getting all the practice reps as they needed to get him up to speed as fast as possible with Taysom Hill going down with another season ending injury. Hoge was the 3rd string quarterback going into the season, I doubt he was expecting to even get into a game. That changed quite quickly. He was 1-5 for 9 yards with one interception and 3 rushes for -3 yards. But stat line aside his talent was still clear. 2 of his passes were right on the money but were dropped. Against a bad team like Wagner Hoge should do fine.
He has an intriguing skill set and talent. He reminds me of a younger Taysom, perhaps Taysom-lite. Similar builds and style of plays. He seems to have the same explosive running ability that Hill displayed, though Hoge was doing this against high school defenses. He has a solid arm to go with his running talent. I expect to see him run the football out of the zone read quite a bit. Once he gets comfortable he shouldn't have any problem moving the ball against Wagner.
The Cougars will score 65+ points
Scoring 60 points in a college football game is impressive, regardless of the opponent, unless of course you're Baylor who's done it five times this season. BYU has eclipsed 60 points just twice in the past 10 years. The last time the Cougars played a FCS team they scored 64 points, and that was against Savannah State who finished 0-12 last season. Bronco is a coach who tends to not run up the score. BYU typically scores at least 50 against FCS and bottom feeder FBS opponents. So 50 points will be easy to get. But in order to reach 60 Bronco is going to have to let the offense keep scoring just a little bit. About 40+ points will probably have to come in the first half if the Cougars want to reach this number. Clearly they have the talent to do so.
The defense will force 5 turnovers and 5 sacks
Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore was sacked eight times against BYU last week. What makes that number so impressive is that prior to the game the Bearcats had surrendered only six sacks. I have a feeling Wagner's offensive line is quite a lot weaker than Cincinnati's line. Travis Tuiloma making his full return was huge for the Cougar's pass rush. Bronson Kaufusi was a beast last game because of it, finishing with 3 sacks. Tuiloma will continue to take up blockers allowing the outside guys to make plays. Bronson could easily reach his same total from last week and I'm sure we'll see Harvey Langi and Fred Warner get in on the action. Sione Takitaki's suspension for the season hurts the pass rush but that won't be felt in this game. BYU is still going to own the trenches.
Though the defense didn't force any turnovers last game they've still forced 13 this season, 10 interceptions and three forced fumbles. Against a far inferior team and an impressive showing by the pass defense in the last three quarters against Cincinnati, the defense looks poised to pick off a few passes. If the pass rush gets after the quarterback the way that it should there's no reason to believe the Cougars can't force a bunch of turnovers, although five may seem like a lot. It's been done plenty of times by countless others so why not the Cougars this week?
In the end, unlike other games, this one will never be in doubt. The offense will cruise all game behind the arms of Tanner Mangum and Beau Hoge. The defense will wreak havoc all over the field. It will be fun to watch a dominating performance, albeit against a far inferior opponent. BYU wins 65-3.