Eddie Robinson Jr. had always dreamed of playing in the Rose Bowl.
While he never received the opportunity to do so as an Alabama State defensive back, he’ll get experience the next best thing.
Robinson, the first-year Alabama State coach, will lead the team against UCLA on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. It will be the first time the Bruins would have played an FCS school or HBCU in its storied history.
Despite being 49.5 underdogs, Robinson is excited about exposing the Hornets to one of college football’s famed venues and competing against a Power 5 school.
“UCLA has a great tradition. Every kid has dreamed about playing in the Rose Bowl at one time,” said Robinson this week. “It’s going to be a great experience for us, the band and the fans. We do have a lot of alumni out there in California. We’re looking at it optimistically to go out there and compete.”
Alabama State will receive a $590,000 payout from UCLA.
Robinson, who has started his young coaching career 2-0, also hopes the game will help the Hornets player gain NFL exposure matching up against an opponent that attracts plenty of it.
“We have a lot of guys who have aspirations to play at the next level, a lot of guys who feel like they’re Power 5-type players,” said Robinson. So I think for those guys, they have to strap it up and that’s a good measuring stick.”
The Hornets, however, could be without starting quarterback Dematrius Davis who injured his throwing shoulder early in the team’s 21-13 win over Miles College a week ago. Robinson described Davis’ availability as a game-time decision. If the Auburn transfer QB can’t play, backup Myles Crawley, who passed for 162 yards in Davis’ absence, will get the nod.
For UCLA, the game presents a unique opportunity to expose its fan base to Black college football in person.
“It’s really cool,” said Bruins head coach Chip Kelly of playing Alabama State in Pasadena. “I thought it was a good idea and we’re excited to see the turnout on Saturday.”