BYU’s Tom Holmoe, Kalani Sitake Respond To New Mexico Bowl Bid

Dec 4, 2022, 4:19 PM

BYU Football, Kalani Sitake, Tom Holmoe...

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake and AD Tom Holmoe shared their initial statements on the 2022 New Mexico Bowl bid. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU will play in the New Mexico Bowl to close out the 2022 season. The opponent waiting for them is the 7-5 SMU Mustangs from the American Athletic Conference.

A month ago, BYU was sitting at 4-5, staring down a potential losing season. So to turn things around as they did with a three-game winning streak and to land a quality program like SMU in the Bowl Season, there’s not much an underperforming BYU can ask for in its final game as an FBS Independent.

The New Mexico Bowl was an entertaining postseason game for BYU the last time they were in Albuquerque. BYU last played at the New Mexico Bowl in 2010, their final game as a Mountain West program. They defeated UTEP, 52 to 24, led by freshman QB Jake Heaps.

Tom Holmoe on BYU’s 2022 bowl bid

ESPN Events slotted BYU in the New Mexico Bowl as part of its television agreement with the Independent Cougars.

“We gratefully accept the invitation to participate in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl,” said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe in a written statement. “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.”

Organizers of the New Mexico Bowl were thrilled to get BYU into their game. Another Independent program, nearby New Mexico State, wasn’t considered for the game. Instead, it was all about getting BYU. A team they’ve been eyeing since the Cougars officially became bowl eligible after the Utah Tech win.

New Mexico Bowl Exec on BYU: “One of the premier programs in college football”

“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.”

When BYU was a WAC and Mountain West Conference member, they were league rivals with New Mexico. As a result, trips to Albuquerque were a frequent occurrence for BYU back in the day.

Kalani Sitake will try to stop SMU’s high-flying offense

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake once played at University Stadium, home to New Mexico in 1999, when he was a fullback for the Cougars. He’s excited about the bowl opportunity but understands the challenge of stopping SMU’s high-powered offense. Sitake has been calling BYU’s defense since the loss to Arkansas back on October 15. He will try to create a game plan that stops the nation’s sixth-ranked passing attack.

“We appreciate this invitation from the New Mexico Bowl to come to Albuquerque and face a very good SMU team,” said Sitake. “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.”

The 2022 New Mexico Bowl is currently scheduled for a 12:15 p.m. (MT) kickoff on ESPN. However, it could switch to 5:30 p.m. if the NFL flexes the Raiders/Patriots game on December 18. That would then cause the Las Vegas Bowl to move to 12:15 p.m., with BYU versus SMU in New Mexico switching to primetime at 5:30 p.m. on ABC.

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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BYU’s Tom Holmoe, Kalani Sitake Respond To New Mexico Bowl Bid