Bruins play in the LA Bowl Saturday and Latu wins several awards

In one of the all-time great seasons for a UCLA football player, defensive end Laiatu Latu became the first player in UCLA football history to win the Lombardi Award, an award that recognizes the top college football lineman in college football. Latu also won the Hendricks award, an award given annually to the top defensive end in college football. Latu is the first UCLA football player to win the Hendricks award.

Latu was selected as a first team Associated Press (AP) All-American at defensive end. A total of 13 Pac-12 conference players were selected to the AP All-American team. The AP All-American team consists of a first, second, and third team. Washington had 5 players named to the AP All-American team, Oregon had 3 players on the team, there was one each from UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.

Latu also won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12 defensive lineman of the year. Latu led the nation in tackles for loss with 21.5 and led all power conference schools with 13 sacks. He added two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and 49 tackles to his impressive stats.

Among the other winners of post-season award from the Pac-12 conference were Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who won the Maxwell Award, an award given annually to the player considered to be the best all-around player in the nation. Penix was a second team AP All-American at quarterback and a runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting. Penix led the nation in passing yardage.

Quarterback Bo Nix of the Oregon Ducks won the William V. Campbell Trophy as the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance. It is considered the "Academic Heisman" award. Among the previous winners of this award were quarterback Peyton Manning and current Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. Nix was chosen as the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, he was also a third team AP All-American and was third in the Heisman trophy voting. Nix was second to Penix in passing yardage in the nation.

Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson won the Rimington award, given to the most outstanding center in college football. Powers-Johnson did not give up one sack in 471 pass-blocking opportunities and allowed only one pressure. Powers-Johnson was selected as a first team AP All-American.

Latu will be leaving for the NFL after two seasons as an All-Pac-12 defensive end for the Bruins, and because of the preparation for the NFL draft, plus the upcoming school finals, and time missed from school to accept awards, he will skip the LA Bowl game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood between the Bruins and the Boise State Broncos. The game will be played this Saturday, December 16, and will begin at 4:30 pm PST. The game will be televised nationally on ABC.

The Broncos won the Mountain West Championship, defeating UNLV in Las Vegas, 44-20. The Broncos finished the season with a four-game winning streak and an overall record of 8-5. The Broncos will be short-handed at quarterback with the loss in the transfer portal of their starting quarterback Taylen Green, who recently transferred to Arkansas.

Green threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 90 yards and two touchdowns in the championship win over UNLV. He will be replaced by true freshman CJ Tiller, who played his high school football at Rancho Cucamonga.

The Broncos will have running back Ashton Jeanty, who was selected a second team AP All-American as an All-purpose player. Jeanty rushed for 1,262 yards and also had 552 receiving yards. Jeanty scored 19 total touchdowns in 2023. He is the only player in the nation with multiple touchdown runs of 50+ yards and multiple receiving touchdowns of 50+ yards. He had two in each category.

The Bruins will have quarterback Ethan Garbers leading the offense and that should help the Bruins have a good day on offense. The Bruins lost their defensive coordinator and will without Latu and some other key players, but the defense has enough talent to beat Boise State. UCLA has played Boise State once in their football history, a September 1999 game, which the Bruins won 38-7 at the Rose Bowl.


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