Boise State will face a departing Pac-12 team in the LA Bowl, which has a big new host

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Boise State will face UCLA in the LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on Saturday, Dec. 16, the bowl game announced on Sunday.

It’s the second straight game the Broncos will play in an NFL Stadium. They traveled to Allegiant Stadium — home of the Las Vegas Raiders — and beat UNLV in the Mountain West championship on Saturday. SoFi, which opened in 2020, is home to the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I am so proud of what these incredible young men have accomplished in spite of all the adversity they have faced this year, especially over the past few weeks,” Boise State interim head coach Spencer Danielson said in a press release. “It is because of their hard work, effort and dedication that we have defied the odds and brought the Mountain West Championship home to Boise.”

This is the third season that the Mountain West champion and the No. 5 pick from the Pac-12 meet in the LA Bowl. It will be UCLA’s final game as a member of the Pac-12. The Bruins (7-5) will join the Big Ten next year.

Mountain West champions have won the LA Bowl each of the past two years. Utah State beat Oregon State 24-13 in 2021, and Fresno State knocked off Washington State 29-6 last year. The bowl was supposed to make its debut in 2020, but it was canceled because of COVID-19.

The bowl game has a new sponsor and host this year. In October, the bowl announced that former NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski was replacing late-night host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel as its host. The bowl also added new sponsor Starco Brands Inc as its primary sponsor.

Gronk, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound, larger-than-life personality, won Super Bowls with both the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Boise State (8-5) and UCLA have played just once before. The Bruins hosted the Broncos in 1999 and cruised to a 38-7 victory. It was a meaningful game for former Boise State head coach and quarterback Bryan Harsin, who threw the only touchdown pass of his college career against the Bruins.

UCLA lost three of its last four regular-season games this year, including a 33-7 home loss to Cal. The Bruins’ lone victory during that stretch was a 38-20 win over crosstown rival USC. UCLA finished seventh in the Pac-12.

The Bruins are coached by Chip Kelly, who has also been head coach at Oregon (2009-2012) and in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles (2013-2015) and San Francisco 49ers (2016). His career college record is 79-39. That’s in strong contract to Danielson, who is 3-0 as the Broncos’ interim head coach.

Kelly’s forte has always been an up-tempo offense, and the Bruins average 420.2 yards of total offense and 191.1 rushing yards a game this season. They will be without starting quarterback Donte Moore in the bowl game after he entered the transfer portal on Thursday. Moore threw for 1,610 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions this year.

Redshirt junior quarterback Ethan Garbers played in 10 games this season, posting 984 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. The Bruins have two running backs with more than 700 rushing yards: Carson Steele (847 yards, 6 TDs) and T.J. Harden (722 yards, 6 TDs). Wide receiver Logan Loya leads the team with 58 catches for 650 yards and five touchdowns.