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UCLA football prepares to play Alabama State for first time in Bruin history

UCLA football redshirt senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson prepares to throw a pass. (Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Football


Alabama State
Saturday, 2 p.m.

Rose Bowl
Pac-12 Networks

By Jay Fenn

Sept. 9, 2022 2:33 p.m.

The Bruins will face off against a historically Black university for the first time in school history.

After starting its season with a victory over Bowling Green, UCLA football (1-0) will welcome Alabama State (2-0) to the Rose Bowl on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins will have a chance to start the season 2-0 for the second straight year.

Redshirt senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said he is looking forward to the chance to face off against the Hornets.

“Just for the culture, finally getting to get a school like that out on the West Coast is going to be a great opportunity for both teams,” Thompson-Robinson said. “We’re excited to give them the opportunity, and we’re also excited to get the opportunity to play them.”

UCLA was initially scheduled to face off against Michigan in the first year of a home-and-home series. However, the Wolverines withdrew from the pair of games in 2019, so the Bruins filled the void in their nonconference schedule with the Hornets.

Coach Chip Kelly said the Bruins are excited for the opportunity to compete against an HBCU for the first time.

“When we did get in the situation, there wasn’t a lot to choose from,” Kelly said. “But I thought it was a good idea, and we’re excited to see the turnout on Saturday.”

The Hornets are led by Alabama State alumnus and coach Eddie Robinson Jr., who played in the NFL for 11 years with the Houston Oilers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills after being selected in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft as a linebacker.

Alabama State is off to a 2-0 start this year, claiming victories over Howard and Miles. Coming into 2022, the Hornets haven’t had a winning record in six straight seasons.

Senior running back Zach Charbonnet – who tallied his eighth 100-yard game as a Bruin last week – said the blue and gold approach every game the same.

“We’re always going to come with the same mentality no matter who were are playing,” Charbonnet said. “No matter who is in front of us, we’re going to play with the same style, same physicality and speed.”

UCLA is coming off a 45-17 victory over Bowling Green, a game that saw the Bruins go down 17-7 early in the second quarter before rattling off 38 unanswered points. The Bruins’ defense finished the contest allowing 162 yards, while its offense totaled 626 yards on the afternoon.

Kelly said the Bruins don’t worry about who is on the other sideline, and will compete hard regardless.

“We respect all and fear none,” Kelly said. “We’re putting together a game plan to beat them. … Honestly, we’re playing against ourselves every week.”

Alabama State will bring its marching band with them to California, three years after “The Mighty Marching Hornets” performed at the 2019 Rose Parade.

Thompson-Robinson said although he’ll be in the locker room for the band’s performance, he is happy that they are getting the opportunity to perform.

“Those (marching band performances) are definitely a cool thing to experience and see,” Thompson-Robinson said. “I definitely wish I could be able to catch that.”

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Jay Fenn | Sports staff
Fenn is currently a Sports staffer on the baseball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat and a contributor on the beach volleyball and men's and women's golf beats.
Fenn is currently a Sports staffer on the baseball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat and a contributor on the beach volleyball and men's and women's golf beats.
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