BYU’s Bowl Experience Catches SMU By Surprise

Dec 15, 2022, 7:11 PM | Updated: 7:20 pm
BYU Football, New Mexico Bowl, Wives...
The BYU football teams brings their wives to bowl games. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – When the BYU football team touched down in the land of enchantment, they needed two planes to unload.

The reason? Well, there are a lot of people that attend these BYU bowl game trips. Most notably, spouses of the players.


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Big travel party for BYU

The first BYU football player to step off the plane ride Wednesday from Provo was quarterback Jaren Hall. Hall, who was sporting a boot on his right foot, was with his wife, Breanna.

Breanna Hall was one of 25 wives that joined their BYU football-playing husbands on the trip to see BYU take on SMU in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl.

“It’s fun, and it’s always funny the other team’s reactions seeing the players bring wives to these events. It’s a good time,” said Alaina Pestana, wife to BYU defensive end Tyler Batty.

It’s been an annual tradition at BYU to have the players bring their wives to the bowl game. So how BYU travels in the postseason is nothing new to them. But it’s a new look for teams not familiar with the Cougars.


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Different to see for SMU

SMU would be one of these teams that isn’t familiar with BYU. They haven’t faced the Cougars in 25 years when they were in the 16-team WAC together. The two teams might have the same record on the field this year at 7-5, but the numbers aren’t similar off the field.

“Zero,” said SMU QB Tanner Mordecai when asked how many married players are on the Mustangs.

Mordecai, who is preparing for his last college football game before moving on to pursue an NFL career, admits it was different seeing married players on another college team.

“Yes,” Mordecai said with a smile when asked if it was different to see BYU players with wives. “And they had kids too. We have a few guys on the team that have kids, maybe like three or four. But yeah, that’s different.”

BYU football is a family

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake since he took over as head coach in 2016, he’s centered his program around family. That’s been the case this week at the always-hospitable New Mexico Bowl.

“We’re enjoying our time here in Albuquerque, and the people have been amazing,” said Sitake. “…It’s nice to have everybody be able to be here, the entire travel squad, which is the roster, and then you know, guys that are married bring their wives, and the coaches and support staff here to bring their families has been extra special.”

Call it different. But for BYU’s traveling party, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We love it, and we’re all friends here,” said Pestana. “The football team just feels like a family.”


2022 New Mexico Bowl

Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. (MT)


Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Extended pregame begins at Noon)

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 Bowl Experience Catches SMU By Surprise