Oct 29, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) looks to pass in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

QB Kedon Slovis announces transfer to BYU

Quarterback Kedon Slovis is transferring to BYU for the 2023 season, he announced Saturday.

Slovis, who started his career at Southern California, played the 2022 season at Pitt for coach Pat Narduzzi.

“I will always be grateful for Coach Narduzzi and the time I got to spend with all of my teammates at the University of Pittsburgh,” Slovis tweeted. “I’m excited for this new chapter and can’t wait to get to work. #GoCougs”

Slovis entered the transfer portal on Dec. 5, the same day former Notre Dame and Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec announced his transfer to Pitt, his hometown school.

In 2022, Slovis completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 2,397 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 11 games this season for the Panthers (8-4). Pitt will meet UCLA in the Sun Bowl on Friday.

Slovis has passed for 9,973 yards with 68 touchdowns and 33 interceptions in 32 games with the Trojans (2019-21) and Panthers. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native was the 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and a 2020 first-team All-Pac-12 selection at USC.

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2022; Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA; Brigham Young Cougars running back Christopher Books (2) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at University Stadium (Albuquerque). Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

BYU stuffs SMU on 2-point conversion to win New Mexico Bowl

BYU cornerback Jakob Robinson tackled SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai on a two-point conversion with eight seconds left, stuffing the Mustangs and lifting the Cougars to a 24-23 win in their final game as an independent in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday night.

After Mordecai led SMU 88 yards in just under three minutes, the Mustangs (7-6) went for two and spread their receivers out. Mordecai tried to run it in but was brought down by Robinson on a fine one-on-one tackle well short of the goal line.

Slotting as the fourth-string quarterback entering camp, BYU’s Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters was the surprise starter and rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 47 yards with an interception.

Christopher Brooks rushed for a score, and linebacker Ben Bywater had 11 tackles and the first pick-six in New Mexico Bowl history for the Cougars (8-5), who will open play as a Big 12 member in 2023.

Mordecai was 27 of 37 passing for 218 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. SMU got scores from Roderick Daniels Jr. and Tyler Lavine (91 yards on 23 carries). Shanon Reid had an interception.

In the 17th New Mexico Bowl, SMU played uptempo and put points on the board at 12:01 when Collin Rogers booted a 35-yard field goal. But Maiava-Peters kept the ball on a fourth-down conversion and trotted into the end zone untouched from 1 yard out for a 7-3 BYU lead with just over six minutes left in the first quarter.

Mordecai hit Daniels for 9-yard score off the right side late in the first, but Maiava-Peters took the Cougars 66 yards on a 14-play drive that took 7:11 off the clock. Jacob Oldroyd’s 31-yard kick made it 10-10 with 3:34 left in the second quarter.

With SMU driving on its second series of the second half and inside the red zone, Bywater stepped in front of a bubble screen for an interception and dashed 76 yards to put the Cougars ahead 17-10 at 8:17.

Brooks padded the lead to 24-10 with a 22-yard run on BYU’s next drive, which went 82 yards in nine plays. But Lavine capped a 75-yard drive with a short touchdown run with 12:39 left to play.

Alden Tofa’s sack of Mordecai on fourth-and-2 forced a turnover on downs with 4:58 remaining in regulation before Mordecai marched the team down the field.

BYU is 17-22-1 in bowl games and 4-0 all-time against the Mustangs, who are 7-10-1 in the postseason.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) throws downfield during the first half against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

New Mexico Bowl features high-powered offenses in BYU, SMU

When the football is kicked off in Saturday’s New Mexico Bowl between SMU and BYU, the fans in attendance can expect plenty of fireworks — in the form of points on the scoreboard.

The high-powered offenses of SMU Mustangs coach Rhett Lashlee and BYU Cougars coach Kalani Sitake will take the field against a pair of struggling defensive units in a matchup that Vegas oddsmakers expect to feature tons of points.

While BYU is a 1.5-point favorite, the most intriguing number is the over-under — set at a lofty 74 points.

Averaging 38.4 points in a 7-5 season, SMU was a part of history on Nov. 5 when it beat Houston 77-63 in the highest-scoring regulation contest in FBS history. Quarterback Tanner Mordecai threw for a program and American Athletic Conference record nine touchdowns and rushed for another.

Meanwhile, BYU’s defense has been costly for the Cougars during their 7-5 campaign. In a stretch of mediocre play, the unit likely cost them in losses to Arkansas, East Carolina, Liberty and Notre Dame.

Sitake’s defense ranked 93rd in the nation, allowing 409.7 yards per game, but new defensive coordinator/associate head coach Jay Hill vows to improve that.

“I’ve never been a guy who wants to sit back and bleed a slow death,” said Hill, the former head coach at Weber State. “That is not me. I refuse to do that. I will blitz or put every guy at the line of scrimmage rather than just sit there and let people pound us.”

Lashlee’s offense was sixth in total passing, with an average of 324.9 yards per game. Mordecai, a senior, went 261-for-406 for 3,306 yards, with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The SMU coach said he has always admired BYU, saying, “I’ve always had a lot of respect, just the toughness stands out to me. It’s a tough physical culture.”

SMU star wide receiver Rashee Rice (toe) will miss the game and has declared for the NFL Draft. In 12 games this season, the senior playmaker had 96 receptions for a school-record 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns. His average of 112.9 yards per game topped the country.

The Mustangs hold a 7-9-1 mark in bowl games, most recently a 52-28 loss to FAU in the 2019 Boca Raton Bowl.

The Cougars are 16-22-1 in bowls and playing in their fifth straight one. They lost 31-28 to UAB in last season’s Independence Bowl.

BYU holds a 3-0 lead in the all-time series, last played on Sept. 27, 1997 — a 19-16 outcome in overtime. They also beat the Mustangs in the 1980 Holiday Bowl — one of that decade’s wildest games.

In that one, the Cougars erased a 20-point, fourth-quarter deficit by scoring three touchdowns in the final 2:33. Quarterback Jim McMahon connected with Clay Brown on a Hail Mary as time expired for a shocking 46-45 win.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Stanford, California, USA;  Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Chase Roberts (27) runs the ball against Stanford Cardinal defensive end Aeneas DiCosmo (0) during the first half at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

BYU steamrolls Stanford in season finale, 35-26

Jaren Hall passed for two touchdowns and rushed for a third before leaving with an injury, lifting the Cougars to a 35-26 nonconference victory over host Stanford in the regular-season finale for both teams Saturday night.

Christopher Brooks amassed 164 yards on 23 carries, while Hinckley Ropati and Puka Nacua joined Hall with rushing TDs for BYU (7-5), which will take a three-game winning streak into its bowl game. BYU rushed for 358 yards total.

Tanner McKee threw for 313 yards and one score for Stanford (3-9), which completed a bowl-less season with five straight losses.

Hall threw 43 and 1 yards to Isaac Rex and ran in from 19 yards out, helping BYU take a 28-12 halftime lead. Ropati also had a 43-yard rushing TD in the half for the Cougars.

When Nacua raced 25 yards for a TD with 12:48 remaining in the game, the visitors were up 35-12 and hardly noticed that Hall had left the game with a sprained right ankle. He did not return.

But Stanford didn’t give up easily. Backup quarterback Ashton Daniels plunged in from 1 yard out, then McKee connected with Brycen Tremayne for a 7-yard score, getting the Cardinal back within 35-26 pending Joshua Karty’s PAT attempt with still 4:39 to play.

But Karty, who earlier in the game had seen his perfect PAT season end with an effort that went wide left, never got a chance to get Stanford back within one score. A bad snap prevented his attempt, leaving the Cardinal two scores behind.

BYU was then able to run out the clock, with Brooks running four times for 27 yards and a pair of first downs.

Brooks joined Ropati (85) and Hall (69) as three Cougars who rushed for 50 or more yards en route to the huge team total.

Hall finished 7-for-11 passing for 93 yards and the two scores without an interception.

McKee went 31-for-40 without an interception for Stanford. The 313 yards were just seven short of his season-best, accomplished in October against Arizona State.

Tremayne was the game’s leading receiver with 11 catches for 130 yards, while Mitch Leigber was the Cardinal’s leading rusher with 40 yards on 12 runs and a 1-yard score in the second quarter.

Karty, who also entered the game without having missed a field goal all season, completed Stanford’s scoring with 34- and 54-yard kicks in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Greenville, North Carolina, USA;  East Carolina Pirates cornerback Malik Fleming (1) celebrates breaking up a pass attempt against the Memphis Tigers during the second half at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

High-flying ECU visits free-falling BYU

With East Carolina coming off its best win of the season and BYU coming off its worst loss, the teams meet in a nonconference tilt Friday night in Provo, Utah.

After a 3-3 start, East Carolina (5-3) has won two straight — following up a four-overtime thriller against Memphis with Saturday’s impressive 34-14 rout of UCF.

The Pirates never trailed, building a 17-0 first-half lead against the Knights, who had entered the game 5-1 and were undefeated in AAC play. When UCF closed the gap to a touchdown early in the second half, East Carolina outscored the visitors 17-3 the rest of the way.

There was little time for the Pirates to celebrate, with a short week turning their attention immediately to BYU (4-4).

“They’re coming off a couple of tough losses, but we do expect them to get a couple guys back this weekend,” Pirates coach Mike Houston said of BYU. “One of the stiffest challenges of the year will be us going on the road and trying to get a win this Friday night.”

ECU junior safety Jireh Wilson was named AAC Defensive Player of the Week after he recorded his second interception, recovered a fumble and posted three tackles (one solo) in the win.

Meanwhile, it’s been six weeks since the Cougars’ fans stormed the field following a 26-20 win over then-No. 9 Baylor.

BYU has lost three in a row, with Saturday’s 41-14 loss at Liberty more damaging than previous losses to Oregon, Notre Dame and Arkansas.

A fourth consecutive loss would endanger the Cougars’ bowl chances. After facing the streaking Pirates, BYU faces Boise State, FCS school Utah Tech (a non-major opponent that won’t help in bowl consideration) and goes to Stanford.

Saturday in Lynchburg, Va., Liberty won for the seventh time in eight games and Flames fans did their own field-storming.

“I look forward to seeing who wants to come out of this mess,” Sitake said. “It is an easy filter for me, (to) see who wants to join the fight and who wants to not be a part of it. We will get through it.”

On offense, BYU had just 258 yards on 50 plays, but defense has been the Cougars’ bigger problem.

Sitake made changes after the Cougars gave up 644 yards in the 35-52 loss to Arkansas, and he took over defensive play-calling duties from coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki.

Still, nothing worked, as Liberty rolled up 547 yards, including 300 on the ground.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Brigham Young Cougars running back Christopher Brooks (2) runs with the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

BYU, Arkansas look to rediscover winning ways

BYU and Arkansas, two teams that were among the Top 25 through the first quarter of the season, will look to get back on track when they square off on Saturday in Provo, Utah.

It’s the first-ever meeting for the two programs.

The Cougars (4-2) return home after a 28-20 loss to Notre Dame last Saturday in Las Vegas in which they managed just 280 yards of offense. The setback snapped BYU’s two-game winning streak and dropped them out of the Top 25.

BYU trailed by 19 points early in the second half and worked its way back into contention. The game was still in reach for the Cougars late, but they failed to convert a fourth down with 3:37 to play and Notre Dame was able to run out the clock, exploiting a weary BYU defense that was on the field for nearly 41 minutes and surrendered 496 yards.

“How many plays did we have total? 46?” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “That’s not going to do it. Part of that is defense, get off the field. And offense, get first downs and keep drives going. Just getting more efficient football from our team. … Be balanced. run the ball, throw the ball. That’s what we should be doing.”

The Cougars are facing a team from the Southeastern Conference for just the 11th time. BYU is 4-6 versus the SEC in program history.

Arkansas (3-3, 1-3 SEC) will look to regain some of its early-season swagger after a 40-17 loss at Mississippi State last week. The Razorbacks have dropped three straight games and fallen out of the AP poll after cresting at 10th in the rankings following their third game.

The Razorbacks are beat up and trying to play through a rough stretch. Quarterback KJ Jefferson, who had started 18 consecutive games, was held out against Mississippi State after taking a hit to the head in the loss to Alabama on Oct. 1.

Nickel back Myles Slusher also missed last week’s game, further depleting a secondary that has lost Jalen Catalon and LaDarrius Bishop for the season.

“We need a bye week,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “We need to get healthy. But we don’t have that. We have BYU Saturday. We’ll go up there and when we get off the plane and get off the bus, we’ll believe we’re going to win.

“That’s just how it is. I’m not worried about the team.”

Pittman’s teams have never lost a nonconference game in his three seasons at Arkansas. They’ve gone 7-0 over that stretch; there were no nonconference games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; BYU Cougars running back Hinckley Ropati (7) runs the ball as Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Gabriel Rubio (97) prepares to tackle in the first quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Mayer’s TD catches help Notre Dame hold off No. 16 BYU

Drew Pyne threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns to lead Notre Dame to a 28-20 victory over no. 16 BYU in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Michael Mayer, who finished with 118 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches, became the all-time leader for receptions by a tight end at Notre Dame.

Audric Estime and Logan Diggs combined for 190 rushing yards for the Irish.

Notre Dame (3-2) totaled 496 yards while improving to 7-2 all-time against the Cougars.

Jaren Hall threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns to lead BYU. Chris Brooks added 90 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries for the Cougars. Kody Epps was the top receiver with 100 yards and two touchdowns on four catches.

The loss snapped BYU’s (4-2) two-game winning streak.

BYU rallied from a 19-point deficit with back-to-back touchdown drives. Kody Epps scored on a 53-yard catch and Brooks followed with a score on a 28-yard run to trim Notre Dame’s lead to 25-20 early in the fourth quarter.

The Cougars had a chance to tie it up late after driving inside the Notre Dame 30 yard line. But Lopini Katoa got stuffed for no gain on 4th-and-1 at the Irish 27 with 3:37 left.

Hall struggled to get going in the first half. He threw an interception on the game’s first play and completed just three passes before halftime.

Still, BYU took a 6-3 lead into the second quarter after scoring on a 2-yard pass from Hall to Kody Epps. Hobbs Nyberg returned a punt 42 yards to the Notre Dame 26-yard line to set up the Cougars’ scoring drive.

The Cougars did virtually nothing on offense in the second quarter. BYU ran only nine plays, totaling 21 yards, and one drive ended in a safety when Jack Kiser sacked Hall in the end zone.

It opened the door for the Irish to take control. Notre Dame went ahead 10-6 on Pyne’s 24-yard scoring pass to Meyer a minute into the second quarter. The Irish extended their lead to 18-6 when Pyne connected with Jayden Thomas on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:03 left in the first half.

Meyer’s second touchdown grab – a 19-yard catch – put Notre Dame ahead 25-6 midway through the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 29, 2022; Provo, Utah, USA;  Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) drops back to pass in the second quarter against the Utah State Aggies at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 BYU pulls away from Utah State

Jaren Hall threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns Thursday night as 19th-ranked BYU pulled away in the second half for a 38-26 win over Utah State in Provo, Utah.

Hall completed 17 of 27 passes for the Cougars (4-1), who won their second straight game after a 41-20 loss at Oregon on Sept. 17. His 14-yard scoring strike to Ethan Erickson less than three minutes into the third quarter gave BYU a 24-17 advantage it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Aggies (1-4) countered with Connor Coles’ 33-yard field goal at the 10:03 mark to pull within 24-20, but they wouldn’t get any closer. The Cougars made it 31-20 when Hall hit Kody Epps for an 8-yard touchdown with 6:12 left in the third.

BYU put the game away with Christopher Brooks’ 18-yard scoring jaunt up the middle with 8:18 remaining. That occurred six plays after Utah State quarterback Cooper Legas was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Aggies’ 44-yard line.

Legas completed 19 of 31 passes for 188 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Aggies, who used their ground game to control the ball during the first half. Calvin Tyler led Utah State’s attack with a game-high 104 yards on 18 attempts.

The Aggies marched 75 yards on a crisp game-opening drive, Legas covering the last seven with a scoring run at the 10:39 mark of the first quarter. The Cougars counted with a pair of scores in 81 seconds. Hall hit Keanu Hill with a 31-yard touchdown pass, followed by Max Tooley’s 34-yard interception return.

Utah State responded with a pair of second-quarter scores to grab a 17-14 edge. Coles hit a 50-yard field goal at the 9:34 mark, followed by Legas’ 14-yard scoring strike to Brian Cobbs with 5:04 left.

BYU responded with a 45-yard field goal by Jake Oldroyd with 2:32 remaining — allowing the Cougars to tie the game at halftime despite rushing for minus-21 yards in the half.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) throws the ball against the Wyoming Cowboys in the second quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Jaren Hall leads No. 19 BYU against in-state rival Utah State

Jaren Hall is a rising pro prospect and the BYU quarterback will look to have another big game when he leads the No. 19 Cougars into Thursday night’s contest against visiting Utah State at Provo, Utah.

Hall has topped 300 yards in back-to-back games and has nine touchdown passes against one interception this season for the Cougars (3-1). He matched his career high of four touchdown passes and passed for a season-high 337 yards during Saturday’s 38-24 home win over Wyoming.

He enters the game against Utah State (1-3) with a streak of 115 consecutive passes without being intercepted. It is his third career streak of 100 or more throws without being picked off. He also has streaks of 163 and 119 in his career.

“Jaren’s smart, and he has a great football IQ,” Cougars coach Kalani Sitake said. “… Jaren always wants to get better, and we are lucky to have him as the leader on our team. I just like that he takes care of the football.”

Hall has passed for 1,164 yards this season and has completed 71.5 percent of his passes despite receiver Gunner Romney missing the first four games due to an undisclosed injury.

Hall is on pace to easily outdo last year’s success, when he completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 2,583 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions.

The Cougars racked up 525 yards of total offense against Wyoming to mark the second time they topped 500 this season.

“I’m glad we were able to get the win, and these guys were resilient and played hard,” Sitake said. “We have a quick turnaround for the Utah State game so we need to get ready for that.”

Utah State has lost its last three games by an average of 31 points. The Aggies were shellacked by Alabama, whipped by FCS program Weber State and lost its Mountain West conference opener to visiting UNLV on Saturday.

Making the struggles more maddening is that Utah State matched the program record for victories last season, going 11-3.

“No one is more frustrated than we are,” Aggies coach Blake Anderson said. “We got used to a lot of success last year and right now, we haven’t seen it.”

Utah State committed six turnovers in the 34-24 loss to UNLV, and five were interceptions from quarterback Logan Bonner, a seventh-year senior who began his career at Arkansas State and followed Anderson to Logan after the 2020 campaign.

A year ago, Bonner set program records of 3,628 yards and 36 touchdowns while being picked off 12 times. This season, he has thrown for 753 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The Aggies are averaging just 15.5 points per game while allowing an average of 36.

Anderson admitted there isn’t much time to resolve all his club’s issues prior to facing the Cougars.

“Short week against BYU. It’s going to be a huge challenge,” Anderson said. “We have to build on the few things that we did well, try to get better this week and find a way to put it all together in one game. See if we can get that done.”

BYU recorded a 34-20 victory at Utah State last season for its fourth win in the past six meetings.

The series will go on hiatus after the contest because the Cougars canceled the next four season’s worth of games due to its upcoming entrance to the Big 12. BYU will lose scheduling flexibility by leaving the ranks of independent programs.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) passes the ball against Wyoming Cowboys nose tackle Gavin Meyer (90) in the second quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Jaren Hall’s 4 TD tosses propel No. 19 BYU past Wyoming

Jaren Hall threw for 337 yards and four touchdowns Saturday night as No. 19 BYU pulled away in the second half for a 38-24 win over visiting Wyoming in Provo, Utah.

In improving to 3-1, the Cougars authored a successful bounce-back from last week’s 41-20 loss at Oregon, where they trailed 38-7 in the third quarter. BYU finished with 525 total yards, more than enough to overcome 11 penalties for 109 yards.

Hall hit on 26 of 32 passes, including a 68-yard bomb to Keanu Hill with 5:31 left that gave the Cougars a 35-17 lead. Hill caught five passes for 160 yards and two scores, while Miles Davis added 131 yards on 13 rushes. BYU converted 7 of 13 third downs.

Andrew Peasley completed 14 of 27 passes for 154 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Cowboys (3-2), who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Wyoming managed just 278 total yards and had just one play longer than 19 yards.

BYU came into the game as a 21 1/2-point favorite, but Wyoming spent the first half giving as good as it got. The Cowboys leaned on their running game to control the clock and played physical defense to keep the Cougars in check.

John Hoyland’s 28-yard field goal at the 9:59 mark of the first quarter gave Wyoming a 3-0 edge, but Christopher Brooks’ 6-yard touchdown run with 2:50 left put BYU ahead 7-3. It capped a 91-yard drive.

The Cowboys grabbed a 10-7 edge on Wyatt Wieland’s 4-yard scoring jaunt on a jet sweep less than two minutes into the second quarter. However, the Cougars took the lead into halftime when Hall hit Brayden Cosper with a 3-yard touchdown pass with 4 seconds left.

That was a prelude to the third quarter, when Hall enabled BYU to take control. He found Kody Epps for a 3-yard strike with 7:51 remaining, followed by a 9-yard touchdown toss to Hill at the 1:13 mark that made it 28-10.

–Field Level Media