New Mexico Bowl SMU vs. BYU; Cougars Game Notes

BYU and SMU will meet this week in the 17th annual New Mexico Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 17 at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC at 5:30 p.m. MT. 

Read more about BYU’s New Mexico Bowl invitation

Use this page as a one-stop shop for everything related to the game leading up to kickoff, including broadcast plans, news and game notes. 

BYU (7-5) vs. SMU (7-5)
Saturday, Dec. 17
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. MT
Albuquerque, New Mexico
University Stadium (39,224)

TV/Streaming: ABC
RADIO (3:30 p.m. MT pregame):  BYU Radio SiriusXM 143, Radio app, KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM
Pregame (3:30 p.m. MT pregame)/Postgame: BYUtv
Live Stats (TBA)

BYU Game Notes
SMU Game Notes

PROVO, Utah – BYU has accepted an invitation to play SMU in the 17th annual New Mexico Bowl at University Stadium in Albuquerque on Saturday, Dec. 17. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 5:30 p.m. MT and is being broadcast nationally on ABC and ESPN Radio. Gates will open at 4 p.m. MT and the Pregame Fan Fest will run from 1:30-5:30 p.m. MT.

“We gratefully accept the invitation to participate in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl,” said BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe. “We had a fantastic experience 12 years ago in Albuquerque and look forward to returning to the warm hospitality and incredible southwestern culture. With a pre-Christmas game, we anticipate Cougar Nation will have a strong showing at the game. The New Mexico Bowl also closes the independence chapter of BYU football and ushers in the era of the Big 12, and we look forward to what’s ahead.”

BYU (7-5, Independent) will be making its second appearance in the New Mexico Bowl when it takes on SMU (7-5, 5-3 American Athletic Conference). The Cougars won the 2010 New Mexico Bowl against UTEP, earning a 52-24 victory over the Miners led by New Mexico Bowl MVP Jake Heaps’ four passing touchdowns, including three to wideout Cody Hoffman.

“It is wonderful to welcome BYU back to the New Mexico Bowl”, said New Mexico Bowl Executive Director Jeff Siembieda. “One of the premier programs in college football, the Cougars have a long history of big moments in our state and are very familiar to the locals. We look forward to hosting the team, players, families and the tremendous BYU fan base in Albuquerque.”

This year will be BYU’s 40th bowl overall dating back to the 1974 Fiesta Bowl. Among their 40 bowl appearances, the Cougars have played in 20 different bowl games in 12 states. BYU’s 40 bowl invitations rank tied for No. 20 among college programs—more than storied programs such as UCLA, Notre Dame, Oregon, Iowa and Wisconsin.  The Cougars have gone bowling in 17 of the past 18 seasons.  

“We appreciate this invitation from the New Mexico Bowl to come to Albuquerque and face a very good SMU team,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “Rhett Lashlee is an excellent coach, and he has his team playing very well right now. Our team is excited for the challenge and for another chance to take the field together. We are grateful for this opportunity to have a great bowl experience for our players.”

Series History

BYU and SMU are meeting for the fourth time overall with the Cougars winning all three of the previous matchups. The last two contests took place as conference opponents in the Western Athletic Conference. It took overtime to decide BYU’s 19-16 victory at the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas in 1997 in the last matchup, while the Cougars’ 1996 team that finished No. 5 in the nation with a 14-1 record achieved a decisive 31-3 win over the Mustangs the year before at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

This year’s game will be the second time the Cougars and Mustangs have met in a bowl game. The first overall matchup between the two schools took place in San Diego at the 1980 Holiday Bowl, known by Cougar fans as the “Miracle Bowl.”

In 1980’s historic game, BYU completed one of the greatest comebacks in college football history by scoring 21 points over the final 2:33 of the game to beat the Mustangs 46-45. With over four minutes left in the game and BYU trailing 45-20, quarterback Jim McMahon rallied the Cougars with a touchdown to Matt Braga. After a punt, BYU scored again on a 1-yard touchdown run by Scott Phillips. Forcing a punt again with 13 seconds left, BYU’s Bill Schoepflin blocked a punt to set up BYU at the 41-yard line.

After two incomplete passes, McMahon launched a Hail Mary as time expired and tight end Clay Brown came down with the football in the middle of herd of Mustangs for a touchdown. BYU’s Kurt Gunther kicked the extra point for BYU to earn its first bowl victory in program history.  

SMU Mustangs

SMU has won four of its last five games with a 7-5 record overall and boast the nation’s 11th best scoring offense, putting up 38.4 points per game. The Mustangs are coached by Rhett Lashlee. The former Miami (2020-21) and SMU (2018-19) offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has the Mustangs galloping to the No. 12 offense overall in the FBS, averaging 479.8 yards per game, highlighted by the No. 5 passing attack at 324.9 yards per game.

SMU features the nation’s leading receiver in Rashee Rice who is No. 1 in receiving yards per game at 112.9 and overall receiving yards with 1,355. Mustang quarterback Tanner Mordecai is also among the nation’s best passers with 300.5 passing yards per game, which ranks No. 10 nationally.

Appearing in the New Mexico Bowl for the first time, the Mustangs have been selected to play in a bowl game four years in a row for just the second time in program history. The Mustangs have earned a bowl bid in six of the last seven years but missed out on their 2020 and 2021 games due to Covid-19 cancellations. SMU began playing football in 1915 and has been invited to 18 bowl games overall.

“The opportunity to have SMU to the New Mexico Bowl for the first time is a wonderful one, and I am very excited,” said Siembieda. “The Mustangs bring one of the nation’s most explosive offenses into our game and are on a roll, winning four of their last five games. With a passionate fan base and a fantastic team, we can’t wait to have SMU showcased in the New Mexico Bowl.”

BYU Cougars

The Cougars also enter the New Mexico Bowl at 7-5, finishing the regular season with a winning record for the 43rd time since LaVell Edwards became head coach of the program in 1972. Only nine programs—Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, Georgia, USC, Florida and Boise State—have had more winning seasons in that timeframe. Prior to 1972, BYU had won just 173 games in 47 seasons. Since Edwards’ takeover, BYU has won 437 games, which ranks No. 8 nationally.

The 2022 edition of the Cougars, like SMU, is led by one of college football’s best passers in Jaren Hall, ranking No. 12 in pass efficiency rating at 160.83, totaling 3,171 passing yards and 31 passing touchdowns with only six interceptions. Hall also boasts three rushing touchdowns and one score as a receiver in 2022. He is just the third BYU quarterback (Steve Young, Brandon Doman) to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 300 yards in the same season.

BYU’s offense ranks No. 32 nationally at 440.7 yards per game and averaged 31.9 points per game. The Cougars picked up Power 5 wins over Baylor and Stanford and a victory over regional rival Boise State while playing a strong overall schedule. Including its upcoming matchup with SMU, 10 of BYU’s 12 FBS opponents in 2022 earned bowl eligibility with six or more wins.