BYU COUGARS

New Mexico Bowl: BYU LB Ben Bywater’s Pick-Six Gives Cougars Lead Over SMU

Dec 17, 2022, 7:45 PM | Updated: 7:59 pm
Ben-Bywater-BYU-SMU-New-Mexico-Bowl...
BYU linebacker Ben Bywater (Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

SALT LAKE CITYBYU linebacker Ben Bywater intercepted SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai and returned it for a touchdown to give the Cougars the lead during the New Mexico Bowl.

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

With 8:17 to go in the third quarter, Bywater read Mordecai’s eyes and jumped a route to pick off a pass. The sophomore from Olympus High returned the ball 76 yards to the end zone.

Bywater’s pick-six gave BYU a 17-10 lead. It was the first pick-six in New Mexico Bowl history.

Midway through the quarter, Bywater had six total tackles, two solo tackles, an interception, and a touchdown.

Bywater entered the game with 87 total tackles, 27 solo tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and two pass breakups this season.

During his BYU career, the Salt Lake City native has recorded 204 total tackles, 93 solo tackles, two pass breakups, two sacks, and two interceptions.

BYU’s bowl game against SMU is broadcast on ABC, KSLSports.com, and KSL NewsRadio.

New Mexico Bowl: SMU vs. BYU

The game marks the final game of the Independence era for BYU. After today, BYU will join the Big 12 Conference starting in 2023.

Both teams come into the New Mexico Bowl with 7-5 records. However, the big story around BYU is at quarterback. Fifth-year junior Jaren Hall is expected to be out, leaving an opening for a new face to emerge as the starting quarterback.

The Cougars will start Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters at quarterback in place of an injured Jaren Hall.

BYU has three players under consideration to get time at quarterback. None of the three quarterbacks have played a snap this season. Those quarterbacks are Boise State transfer Cade Fennegan, Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, and preferred walk-on Nick Billoups.

“All three guys can do things that are unique and may be different from each other. But we feel really good about all three guys,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake to KSL Sports. “I gave the challenge to (BYU offensive coordinator) A-Rod (Aaron Roderick) to just play the right guy at the right times. We have no tendencies right now with the three [quarterbacks], so just go out and have fun and see what we can do.”

On the opposite sideline, SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai is preparing for his final game with the Mustangs. Mordecai, an Oklahoma transfer, is pursuing an NFL career after today’s game.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

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New Mexico Bowl: BYU LB Ben Bywater’s Pick-Six Gives Cougars Lead Over SMU