New Mexico Bowl: BYU (7-5) vs. SMU (7-5), Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m. Eastern (ABC)
FanDuel Sportsbook College Line: SMU by 4
Series record: BYU leads 3-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Mustangs have a chance to go into the offseason riding a four-game winning streak and cap coach Rhett Lashlee’s first season with a victory. The independent Cougars, who will be joining the Big 12 next season, are also looking to add to a three-game winning streak, which came on the heels of a four-game skid.
SMU QB Tanner Mordecai vs. recently hired BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill. Mordecai leads an offense that averages 38.4 points a game (11th nationally) and is among the country’s leaders in plays of 20-plus yards. The Mustangs will be without top receiver Rashee Rice, who has opted out of the game to prepare for the NFL draft. Hill is still in the “what’s your name again” phase as he was hired two weeks ago. He’ll be overseeing a beleaguered defense that has allowed 30 points a game and almost 410 yards of total offense.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
BYU: QB Cade Fennegan is expected to step in for injured starter Jaren Hall and will be making his Cougars debut. Backup Jacob Conover had already entered the transfer portal, leaving Fennegan the default starter. A redshirt freshman who transferred from Boise State, Fennegan has not taken a game snap in more than two years, but that still leaves him the most experienced Cougars quarterback available.
SMU: WR Jordan Kerley likely will be Mordecai’s top target with Rice unavailable. Kerley had 31 catches for 538 yards with five TDs in nine games.
FACTS & FIGURES
The teams have not met since 1997. …BYU beat SMU in the 1980 Holiday Bowl in which the Cougars came back from a 20-point deficit in the final 4:07. …SMU rolled up 642 total yards in beating Houston 77-63 this season. …The Mustangs averaged less than 4.5 penalties (10th nationally). …BYU’s 40 bowl games appearances are tied for 20th. …The teams have combined for four national titles and each has had a Heisman Trophy winner (Eric Dickerson, SMU; Ty Detmer, BYU). …Cougars kicker Jake Oldroyd needs three points to become the school’s all-time leading scorer. …Mordecai’s 31 TD passes were eighth best in the country and his 3,306 yards were 14th. …SMU blocked four kicks this season.
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