INGLEWOOD–UCLA Quarterback Ethan Garbers came off the bench to lead a furious second half comeback. The Bruins defeated the Boise State Broncos 35-22 at the LA Bowl on Saturday, December 16 at SoFi Stadium. The LA Bowl set a new attendance record with 32,780 screaming fans.

Garbers completed nine of 12 passes for two touchdowns and was selected as the offensive MVP. Bruins linebacker Darius Muasau was selected as the defensive MVP for making a team-high 11 tackles, including a game-high 2.5 for losses.

Garbers, a redshirt junior from Corona Del Mar High School, started the season opener and five of the six games heading into the LA Bowl, but suffered an arm injury in the 33-7 loss to California Nov. 25 in the regular season finale, with Collin Schlee getting the start Saturday.

Starting when Garbers entered the game facing first-and-goal from the Boise State nine-yard line, the Bruins scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives. Garbers completed his first eight passes, including 39- and 41-yard strikes to J. Michael Sturdivant.

TJ Harden had 105 yards and two touchdowns in 20 carries. This was Bruins Head Coach Chip Kelly’s first bowl victory.

Starco Brands LA Bowl Hosted by Gronk means master of ceremonies Rob Gronkowski had to bring the fun and hijinks. Well, the four-time Super Bowl champion was pumped up for this contest.

Gronk stepped up to the mic in a pregame ceremony and sang the national anthem, accompanied by the New Directions Veterans Choir.

He was a part of everything, from participating in dance-offs during the game to handling the trophy presentation at the end of the night.

The Bruins held the Broncos (8-6) to six points and 130 total yards after halftime – when, by the way, they’d trailed 16-7.

Defensive lineman Laiatu Latu, the Lombardi Award winner as college football’s best lineman and the Pac-12’s Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year, opted out of the game to focus on finishing school and preparing for the NFL draft.

D’Anton Lynn accepted USC’s offer to be its defensive coordinator Dec. 1. In his one season as the Bruins’ defensive coordinator, Lynn elevated UCLA’s defense from ranking No. 87 in 2022 to finishing the 2023 regular season ranked No. 11 among Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

The bowl victory was UCLA’s first since defeating Kansas State, 40-35, in the Alamo Bowl Jan. 2, 2015. UCLA finishes their 2023 season with an (8-5) record.

It will be a truly interesting off season before UCLA joins the Big Ten in 2024.