Instant Takeaways From BYU’s New Mexico Bowl Victory Over SMU

Dec 17, 2022, 9:22 PM | Updated: 9:58 pm
BYU beats SMU in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl win. (Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The BYU Cougars stopped the SMU Mustangs on a two-point attempt with eight seconds to go and captured a victory in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl.

The Mustangs and Cougars played at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Saturday, December 17.

RELATED: BYU Football Holds Off SMU To Win 2022 New Mexico Bowl

BYU beat SMU, 24-23.

Takeaways from BYU’s New Mexico Bowl Win

Jakob Robinson comes up with the play of the night

SMU gets aggressive and goes for two and the win and they dial up a QB sneak for Tanner Mordecai. BYU nickel back Jakob Robinson came up with his ninth and most important tackle of the night by stopping Mordecai to clinch the win for the Cougars.

Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters is a gamer

Some players perform better in a game than they do in a practice. That seems to be the case for BYU quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters. If you based his potential in the program off limited practice windows, you’d think he would never get on the field.

What makes him a threat is when he uses his legs and extends plays. There’s a reason Maiava-Peters was a heralded recruit that had offers from Michigan and Oregon early in his recruitment, his athleticism.

Maiava-Peters finishes the entire game with 47 passing yards and 95 rushing yards.

Ben Bywater had the best game of his season

Linebacker Ben Bywater had the best game of his 2022 season in the New Mexico Bowl. And he also came up with the play of the night.

With 8:17 left in the third quarter, one snap after BYU’s fumble recovery was negated due to an SMU rusher having his elbow down, Bywater picked off SMU QB Tanner Mordecai and returned the interception 76 yards for the score.

It was the first pick-six in the 17-year history of the New Mexico Bowl.

Throughout the night, Bywater was all over the field racking up tackles. You could see he was playing with a lot of confidence as he nodded his head after big tackles. It was an excellent performance from Bywater, who led a depleted linebacking unit that saw Keenan Pili exit to the portal and Max Tooley and Payton Wilgar sidelined with injuries.

Ryan Rehkow was excellent

Early in the game, it looked like punts were optional as BYU was going for it on fourth down. As the offenses settled down and the punt team took the field, Ryan Rehkow shined.

Rehkow had three punts over 60 yards, including a kick that sailed 67 yards. We talk a lot about Jaren Hall, Puka Nacua, Blake Freeland leaving early for the NFL; Rehkow might be good enough for the league as well after this season.

The effort was night and day different from Shreveport

A big question coming into this game was the “care factor.” Which team would show up and bring the effort to win the New Mexico Bowl?

With all the injuries and coaching staff changes, it could have been easy for BYU to fold up shop on the season and call it a season. But they didn’t. Last year in Shreveport, they let the disappointment of not going to a New Year’s Six bowl get the best of them. They didn’t respect the opponent, as they lost to UAB.

Tonight in Albuquerque, BYU cared and that alone was a win. BYU coach Kalani Sitake loves the spot of being doubted. Many people cast doubt on this BYU squad against an SMU team that featured a high-flying passing attack. BYU answered the call to show up and bring effort.

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.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

BYU Cougars

Kyle Ireland and The Associated Press

NFL Legend Steve Young Jokes Amid 49ers’ Dire QB Situation In NFC Championship

NFL legend Steve Young commented on the 49ers' dire QB situation during the NFC Championship game against the Eagles.
18 hours ago
The Marriott Center 2023...
Nate Slack

BYU Basketball Takeaways From Heartbreaking Loss To No. 22 Saint Mary’s

BYU baksetball is full of fighters. Missing three contributors, BYU could’ve folded when it trailed by 11 early on, but Hall helped BYU have a chance for a big upset victory.
2 days ago
Dallin Hall and Gideon George in front of the ROC at the Marriott Center...
Matt Baiamonte

BYU Basketball Questions Answered In Loss Against No. 22 Saint Mary’s

Dallin Hall changed the game late in the first half with his ability to get to the rim and finish. He scored a career-high 23 points in the loss.
2 days ago
BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, Jaxson Robinson...
Matt Baiamonte

Three BYU Basketball Players Unavailable For Game Against Saint Mary’s

Rudi Williams will be asked to carry more of the scoring load after BYU basketball announced they are without three players.
2 days ago
BYU football, Ryder Burton, QB, Springville...
Chandler Holt

QB Ryder Burton Speaks On BYU Affinity, Path To Provo

Former Springville High School QB Ryder Burton recently spoke about his path to becoming a Cougar and his plans going forward.
3 days ago
Red Rocks - 2022 Pac-12 Champions...
Michelle Bodkin

Understanding College Gymnastics Wins/Losses, Ranking System

Here we explain NQS (National Qualifying Score) versus traditional wins and losses and how they are used to rank college gymnastics teams.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
Instant Takeaways From BYU’s New Mexico Bowl Victory Over SMU