How BYU Has Fared Against SMU In Previous Football Meetings

Dec 15, 2022, 10:51 PM
BYU/SMU, Steve Sarkisian...
BYU/SMU will meet for the fourth meeting all-time in the New Mexico Bowl. One of the previous meetings featured former BYU QB Steve Sarkisian in 1996. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico Bowl will be the fourth meeting all-time featuring BYU/SMU in football.

When was the last time BYU and SMU faced each other in football?

You have to go back 25 years, in 1997, to find the last time these two programs faced off against one another. BYU leads the all-time series 3-0.

Here’s a rundown of the history between BYU and SMU in football.

1980 Holiday Bowl: BYU 46, Southern Methodist 45

The 1980 Holiday Bowl needs no explanation. It’s one of the all-time great wins in BYU football history and one of the greatest comebacks in college football history.

Down by 20 late in the fourth quarter, Jim McMahon leads BYU to a miracle comeback that was capped off by a last-second 41-yard touchdown pass from McMahon to tight end Clay Brown.

The Mustangs were in the beginning stages of their dynasty as the “Pony Express,” with Eric Dickerson and Craig James in the same backfield.

Everything had to go BYU’s way to pull off that comeback, and somehow it all fell into place. The victory was BYU’s first bowl win in program history.

1996: BYU 31, SMU 3

When the two schools met again on the football field 16 years after the Miracle Bowl, it was under many different circumstances. To start with, BYU and SMU were in the same league.

After the Southwest Conference dissolved with power brokers Texas, Texas A&M, and others forming the Big 12, the leftovers from the SWC were left to fend for themselves. SMU, less than a decade removed from the death penalty that shut down the program for two years, landed in the 16-team WAC.

BYU QB Steve Sarkisian passed for 358 yards as No. 24 BYU cruised to a blowout win over the Mustangs. The 1996 team was one of BYU’s best: they finished 14-1 with a Cotton Bowl win and ranked No. 5 in the final Top 25 rankings.

1997: BYU 19, SMU 16 (OT)

Eight months after BYU playing in the Cotton Bowl, the Cougars returned to Dallas to face SMU in the historic venue. It was under far less fanfare than the New Year’s Day spectacle of the Cotton Bowl.

Only 23,701 fans were on hand to watch No. 23 BYU defeat SMU in a hard-fought game that extended to overtime.

Brian McKenzie scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime to give BYU the victory. Moments after McKenzie found the endzone, the man to greet him? Kalani Sitake.

2022 New Mexico Bowl: Saturday

BYU and SMU will square off again in another bowl game. This meeting will be in a primetime network television spot on ABC as part of the 17th annual New Mexico Bowl.

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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How BYU Has Fared Against SMU In Previous Football Meetings