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BYU vs. SMU By the Numbers

BYU and SMU are set to square off in the New Mexico Bowl. How do the Cougars match up with the Mustangs?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 14 Navy at SMU Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

BYU is set to play SMU in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl on Saturday at 5:30pm MST. The Cougars and Mustangs have some similarities as far as strengths and weaknesses.

Who will prevail in Albuquerque? Let’s dive into the numbers.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly created the SP+ metric. He explains it as a “a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency.”

SP+ Overall

BYU: 74th

SMU: 55th

Overall, it looks like SMU is the more efficient and well-rounded team by about 20 spots. The good thing for BYU is that they have beaten several teams that rank much higher than them on this list. Baylor (30th) and Boise State (58th) both fell to BYU.



BYU: 37th

SMU: 7th


BYU: 22nd

SMU: 19th


BYU: 32nd

SMU: 6th


BYU: 52nd

SMU: 65th


BYU: 40th (31.9)

SMU: 13th (38.4)

SMU is clearly one of the best offenses in the entire country. Mustangs quarterback Tanner Mordecai is one of the most prolific passers in the nation. He just finished his second consecutive 3,300-plus yard, 31-plus touchdown season at SMU.

On the positive side for the Cougars on defense, SMU’s star receiver, Rashee Rice, declared for the NFL Draft and is opting out of the bowl game. He was an absolute menace this season, with 96 catches for 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns. He likely will be taken in the first three rounds of this spring’s draft.

That leaves a giant hole in SMU’s offense. Either way, SMU head coach Rhett Lashlee will have his offense prepared.

On the BYU side, so much is clouded in mystery. Will Jaren Hall play? If so, will he be healthy enough to be effective? If he can’t go, who is the next man up?

A lot of what BYU did well on offense depends on the health of Jaren Hall. While they were not the juggernaut that the Mustangs were in 2022, the Cougars can hold their own when healthy.

Defense SP+

BYU: 103rd

SMU: 123rd


BYU: 113th

SMU: 103rd

Passing Defense

BYU: 84th

SMU: 91st

Rushing Defense

BYU: 98th

SMU: 121st

PPG Allowed

BYU: 100th (30.0)

SMU: 123rd (34.7)

Again, these two squads are alike in several ways. They both have a veteran quarterback who can lead a prolific offense to a lot of points. They also both have terrible defenses.

While SMU’s offense is more explosive than BYU’s, their defense is also worse than the Cougars, which is quite an accomplishment. The Mustangs allowed more than 40 points four different times this season. They allowed at least 59 points twice.

BYU’s defense is a mess. Ilaisa Tuiaki is gone, but the Cougars hardly have time to make wholesale changes before the bowl game. Jay Hill will take over the defense, but no one will see the effects until next season.

All in all, this has all the makings of a good, old-fashioned shootout.

If Jaren Hall can’t go, BYU will need to hope the offensive line and the running backs are up to the task for taking advantage of SMU’s generous run defense. Otherwise, the Mustangs may run away with this game.