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UCLA football to face Boise State in LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium

UCLA football celebrates after its win over USC in the 2023 rivalry game. The Bruins will be staying local for their bowl game this year, earning a bid for the LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Gavin Carlson

Dec. 3, 2023 1:09 p.m.

This post was updated Dec. 3 at 3:43 p.m.

The Rose Bowl is 27 miles from UCLA’s campus, but the Bruins will be traveling an even shorter distance this postseason.

UCLA football (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) will face Boise State (8-5, 6-2 Mountain West) in the LA Bowl on Dec. 16 at SoFi Stadium. The Bruins lost three of their last four games to end the regular season, while the Broncos have won four in a row and are coming off a 44-20 victory over UNLV in the Mountain West championship game.

“We need to send our seniors out the right way,” Kelly said. “The fact that we get to stay home here in LA, and our fans get to be here. … We’re really excited about it.”

Sunday’s bowl announcement comes after a tumultuous week for coach Chip Kelly and his program.

On Tuesday, a plane pulling a sign donning “READ THE ROOM – FIRE CHIP KELLY” flew over practice on campus. Two different planes with banners then offering support for the polarizing coach were flown later in the week.

On Thursday, former five-star recruit and freshman quarterback Dante Moore’s intentions to enter the transfer portal were reported by 247Sports. The week culminated Friday with defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn leaving UCLA to man the same position for crosstown rival USC.

Despite the recent mishaps, the Bruins will have the opportunity to earn their first bowl win since the 2014 Alamo Bowl.

The postseason matchup also boasts two programs with opposing coaching situations.

While UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond confirmed this week that the Bruins would retain Kelly, Boise State already fired its head coach – Andy Avalos – back on Nov. 12. Since then, the Broncos won three consecutive games including the conference championship game behind interim head coach Spencer Danielson.

“Spencer’s done a great job since they had the coaching change,” Kelly said. “I know how tough the Mountain West is, we’ve played a lot of Mountain West teams since I’ve been here. And then an opportunity to play against the Mountain West champ – we’re really excited about it.”

Despite the Mountain West title, Boise State did not beat a ranked team in 2023 and fell short in its only opportunity to do so, losing 56-19 to then-No. 10 Washington to open the season. That was also the Broncos’ only contest against a Power Five program this season.

UCLA and Boise State both defeated their one mutual opponent in 2023, San Diego State, though the Bruins earned a 25-point win compared to just a three-point victory for the Broncos.

But Moore was the quarterback for that contest against the Aztecs. He also completed passes to senior wide receivers Keegan Jones and Kam Brown, who are both joining Moore in the transfer portal.

UCLA and Boise State have faced off just once in program history in 1999, with the Bruins claiming a 38-7 win behind 96 all-purpose yards and a touchdown from former running back and current running backs coach DeShaun Foster.

Kelly, meanwhile, is 0-1 in his career against Boise State after coaching Oregon to a 19-8 defeat in Boise, Idaho, in 2009. That was his first game as the coach of the Ducks.

One question leading into this year’s matchup between the Bruins and the Broncos is the status of senior defensive lineman Laiatu Latu. The pass rusher – who is a finalist for the Lombardi Award and projected first-round pick – could skip the bowl game to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

“Latu is a special person, special player, and we’ll make the best decision for Latu, but it will be his and his family’s decision,” Kelly said. “I’ll visit with them on Wednesday, but we’ll always do what’s best for our players.”

UCLA will have a chance to reach the eight-win threshold for the third consecutive season at the LA Bowl on Dec. 16.

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Gavin Carlson | Sports staff
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
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