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 LOS ANGELES (AP) -Eddie Ayers, who played on UCLA's 1976 Rose Bowl championship team under coach Dick Vermeil, has died. He was 54.
Ayers died Sunday at a hospital in suburban Lakewood after a battle with lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks itself and can affect various organs, UCLA announced Tuesday.
He was a running back and kick returner for UCLA from 1973-75.
The 1975 team finished tied for first in the Pacific-8 Conference and defeated No. 1 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day 1976.
Vermeil called Ayers ``pound for pound, the best blocker I've ever seen.''
Ayers totaled 1,249 yards rushing and scored 13 touchdowns in his three-year varsity career. As a senior in 1975, he totaled 699 yards on 154 carries and scored 10 touchdowns for a team which went 9-2-1 on the season and finished the year ranked fifth in The Associated Press poll.
Ayers' son, Derek, played for the Bruins from 1993-96.
Funeral services will be Feb. 14 in Ayers' hometown of Richmond, Calif.
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