BYU, SMU set to meet in Dec. 17 New Mexico Bowl

Dec. 4—Journal Staff Report

BYU and SMU have been selected to participate in the 17th annual New Mexico Bowl set for Saturday, Dec. 17, at University Stadium. It will air on ESPN and ESPN Radio affiliates.

It's the last game for BYU (7-5) as an independent before heading into the Big 12 next July. The Cougars have won three straight games, most recently at Stanford. It's BYU's second New Mexico Bowl, 17th bowl appearance in 18 seasons and sixth bowl appearance under coach Kilani Sitake.

BYU defeated UTEP 52-24 in the fifth annual New Mexico Bowl in 2010. Attendance that afternoon was announced as 32,424, the second-highest in the bowl's 16 games. El Paso's proximity to Albuquerque undoubtedly was one factor, but the Albuquerque area's significant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presence was a major contributor as well and likely will be again.

The Cougars were longtime rivals of New Mexico in the Western Athletic and Mountain West conferences before BYU left the MWC in 2010.

The Mustangs are newcomers to the New Mexico Bowl and will be making their first appearance in Albuquerque since 1997, when they lost to New Mexico 22-15. The Lobos and SMU both were members of the Western Athletic Conference at the time.

SMU (7-5, 5-3 American Athletic Conference) won four of its last five games and has the nation's 11th best scoring offense (38.4 points, 479.8 yards per game). It's SMU's fourth consecutive bowl selection, but the Mustangs are seeking their first bowl win since 2012.

The Mustangs and the Cougars have met three times in the past, BYU winning all three.

Fans should expect offensive fireworks. The Cougars and the Mustangs have combined this season for an average of 70.3 points per game. SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai and BYU QB Jaren Hall each have thrown for 31 touchdowns.

KICKOFF TIME? Because of the NFL, the New Mexico Bowl may change its kickoff time, currently set at 12:30 p.m., to 5:30 p.m.

On Dec. 18, the NFL's New England-Las Vegas game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada is set to kick off at 6:20 p.m. However, the league may "flex" that matchup to an earlier window in order to get a more attractive game in the NBC prime-time slot.

If that happens, the Dec. 17 Las Vegas Bowl will need to move up from its currently scheduled Dec. 17 scheduled kickoff to an earlier start that day in order to create turnaround time at the facility to get ready for the next day's NFL game. So in effect, the Las Vegas Bowl will switch time slots with the New Mexico Bowl.