Four Things To Know About BYU’s New Mexico Bowl Opponent: SMU

Dec 4, 2022, 5:51 PM | Updated: 5:52 pm

SMU, Tanner Mordecai, BYU...

SMU QB Tanner Mordecai will play in his final collegiate game against BYU in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl before moving on to the NFL draft. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football will take on the SMU Mustangs in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl. For a pre-Christmas bowl game, this matchup has the makings to be an entertaining one in the Land of Enchantment.

It’s been a long time since BYU and SMU last squared off on the gridiron. To be exact, you have to go back 25 years to the 1997 season when BYU knocked off SMU in overtime at the Cotton Bowl, 19-16.

Like BYU, SMU enters the 2022 New Mexico Bowl with a 7-5 record. However, both programs are looking to close their seasons on a high note and earn an eighth win.

For BYU fans looking to get familiar with SMU, here are four things to know about the SMU Mustangs.

SMU QB Tanner Mordecai will be playing in his last game before pursuing the NFL

Southern Methodist boasts the sixth-best passing offense in the nation this season. The Ponies pass for 324.9 yards per game, with QB Tanner Mordecai leading the way.

A former four-star QB commit to Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners, Mordecai passed for 3,306 yards this season. He’s in a similar situation to BYU QB Jaren Hall where he could return to school after the 2022 season due to the free eligibility caused by the COVID year in 2020. But Mordecai has already announced that he plans to move on after this season to pursue an NFL career.


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A post shared by Tanner Mordecai (@t_mordecai)

Against TCU in week four, Mordecai passed for 372 yards on the Horned Frogs’ defense.

He’s navigated the season with a broken rib for at least six weeks. Mordecai took a hard hit in the regular season finale against Memphis on November 26.

SMU football coach Rhett Lashlee is entering his first bowl game

After Sonny Dykes left across town to take the TCU job, SMU hired former Miami Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee as their head coach. Lashlee has strong ties to the Gus Malzahn coaching tree from his time as an offensive coordinator at Arkansas State and Auburn.

He was a graduate assistant in 2010 with Auburn when former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes was the offensive line coach with the Tigers.

All ten of Lashlee’s full-time assistant coaches are in their first year at SMU.

High-powered offense with a star wide receiver

A matchup with SMU could be problematic for BYU. The Cougars have struggled this season on the defensive side of the ball. At the same time, SMU’s offense has been a high-powered attack under Lashlee.

SMU football is 12th nationally in total offense (479.8 yards), 13th in scoring offense (38.4 points), and 17th in first downs (302).

One of the top Mustang players is AAC First-Team All-Conference wide receiver selection Rashee Rice. Rice has hauled in 96 receptions for 1,355 yards and ten touchdowns. That’s good for second nationally in receiving yards, and he’s done it with a broken toe.

Rice beat out Emmanuel Sanders’ single-season receiving record for an SMU receiver.

SMU’s defense is near the bottom nationally

While SMU’s offense is putting up numbers, the defense also allows opponents to put up some big numbers. SMU’s defense is 118th in total defense (445.8 yards), 121st in rushing defense (203.2), and 91st in passing yards allowed (242.6).

If BYU QB Jaren Hall is healthy and plays in the bowl as he says he plans to, this could be a high-scoring contest at the New Mexico Bowl.

Keep an eye on SMU edge rusher Nelson Paul. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Paul leads SMU in sacks this season with five.


2022 New Mexico Bowl

Date: December 17, 2022

Kickoff Time: 12:15 p.m.


Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Stadium: University Stadium (Capacity: 39,224)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Mitch will be in Albuquerque for the 2022 New Mexico Bowl between BYU and SMU. Follow his coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Four Things To Know About BYU’s New Mexico Bowl Opponent: SMU