SMU vs BYU Prediction: New Mexico Bowl Odds and Picks

The Mustangs and Cougars are set to square off in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday as both enter this bowl game with a 7-5 regular season record. Find out where the betting edge lies in our SMU vs. BYU betting picks.

Rohit Ponnaiya - Betting Analyst at
Rohit Ponnaiya • Betting Analyst
Dec 17, 2022 • 16:36 ET • 4 min read

The Southern Methodist Mustangs and Brigham Young Cougars face off in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.

This line opened with the Cougars installed as slim 1.5-point favorites but has jumped the fence to favor the Mustangs at -5.5 after reports came out that BYU would likely be without starting quarterback Jaren Hall. 

Will the Cougars be able to keep things close in what's expected to be a high-scoring shootout? I let you know with my best free college football picks and predictions for SMU vs. BYU on December 17.

SMU vs BYU best odds

SMU vs BYU picks and predictions

The BYU Cougars have won three in a row, helping them get their season back on track following a four-game slide. In their most recent contest, they beat Stanford 35-26.

Unfortunately, quarterback Jaren Hall suffered an ankle injury in that game. While head coach Kalani Sitake hasn't officially ruled him out for Saturday, a teammate said it would "take a miracle" for him to play. 

The absence of Hall is clearly baked into this line, but it might not be enough when you consider how much BYU's offense relied on him and the dropoff between Hall and the next man up. 

Hall completed 66% of his passes for 3,171 yards and 31 touchdowns while adding another 346 yards on the ground. His absence will be felt even more because Jacob Conover (who served as his seldom-used backup this season) has transferred to Arizona State, leaving Cade Fennegan as the likely starter.

Fennegan hasn't taken a single snap since 2020, when he threw for 182 yards in a lopsided loss against BYU as a member of Boise State. 

The Cougars are also very thin at linebacker, with second-leading tackler Kennan Pili hitting the transfer portal and Max Tooley and Payton Wilgar sidelined with injuries. 

To be fair, the SMU Mustangs are missing an important piece as well, with Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Rashee Rice (96 receptions for 1,335 yards) out with a toe injury. However, SMU always seems to churn out NFL-caliber receivers, and senior quarterback Tanner Mordecai can spread the ball. 

BYU has struggled to defend the pass this season, ranking 117th in the country in opponent passer rating. With the Cougars' secondary getting torched through the air and their offense unable to keep up, back the Mustangs on the spread.

My best bet: SMU -3.5 (-110 at bet365)

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SMU vs BYU spread analysis

Both these teams have identical 7-5 records, but the Mustangs looked like the better team toward the end of the regular season.

SMU is 5-2 straight up and 4-3 against the spread in its last seven games, most recently beating Memphis 34-31. The Mustangs' lone defeats during that span came on the road against AAC champion Tulane and at home against ranked Cincinnati. That loss to the Bearcats was a very close contest that came down to a missed two-point conversion by the Mustangs in the final minute. 

The Cougars have won three straight, but losing all four games in October was a bit troubling. Their home loss to East Carolina was rough, as was their 41-14 road defeat to Liberty, where they were gashed for 300 yards on the ground. 

With the Cougars forced to scour their depth chart for a quarterback, they will likely rely on running backs Chris Brooks and Hinckley Ropati. Brooks is a powerful back that has rumbled for 729 yards and 6.6 yards per carry, while the quicker Ropati has stepped up due to injuries and has broken big plays against Stanford and Boise State in recent weeks.

They should be able to find room to run behind a powerful offensive line against an SMU defense that ranks 124th in the country with 212.4 rushing yards allowed per game. 

Thankfully for the Mustangs, they have a good enough passing game to offset their problems on defense. Mordecai has completed 66% of his passes for 6,934 yards (301.5 yards per game) and 70 touchdowns over the last two seasons for SMU.

He'll be able to torch a Cougars pass defense that has given up 7.8 yards per pass attempt and ranks near the bottom of the country in sacks. 

SMU vs BYU Over/Under analysis

The spread isn't the only line that has seen significant movement, with the total dropping down to 64.5 after opening at 73.5. That might be a tad too low when you consider how explosive these offenses are and how vulnerable the defenses have been.

SMU is 10th in the country in yards per game (482.3) and 26th in yards per play (6.1). Meanwhile, BYU is 38th with 419.1 ypg and 14th with 6.1 yards per play. 

That's a recipe for a high-scoring shootout since these teams also rank outside the Top 100 when it comes to yards per play allowed (BYU giving up 6.0 yards per play and SMU surrendering 6.2).

Sure, the Cougars' passing attack will take a step back without Hall, but they should still be able to move the ball against SMU on the ground. 

In-play microbetting trends for SMU vs BYU

The best betting sites for microbetting college football (with their odds powered by Simplebet):

Here are the next drive results when each team started at the 25-yard line (for all drives available to bet) for both the two-way betting market and the four-way betting market:


Offensive score Yes: 21/49 (42.9%)
Offensive score No: 28/49 (57.1%)

Punts: 13/49 (26.5%)
TDs: 18/49 (36.7%)
FG attempts: 4/49 (8.1%)
TOs: 14/49 (28.6%)

SMU had two drives that started at the 25 that did not have betting markets.


Offensive score Yes: 18/44 (40.9%)
Offensive score No: 26/44 (59.1%)

Punts: 14/44 (31.8%)
TDs: 13/44 (29.5%)
FG attempts: 5/44 (11.4%)
TOs: 12/44 (27.3%)

BYU had five drives that started at the 25 that did not have betting markets.

SMU vs BYU betting trend to know

The Over is 7-1 in BYU's last eight non-conference games. Find more NCAA betting trends for SMU vs. BYU.

SMU vs BYU game info

Location: University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Date: Saturday, December 17, 2022
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

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SMU vs BYU weather

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