Let’s call it what it is, it’s a college football pre-season game.
UCLA will host Alabama State Saturday at the Rose Bowl in the first meeting between the two schools. The Bruins are 1-0 after downing Bowling Green 45-17 last week while the Hornets are 2-0. Alabama State beat Howard, 23-13, and Miles College, 21-13, last week.
Alabama State will be the first HBCU to play at the Rose Bowl (HBCU stands for Historically Black College and University). The Bruins are scheduled to play North Carolina Central, another HBCU in 2023. These two games filled in the schedule for the Bruins when Michigan backed out of a contract for two games.
UCLA will play South Alabama on Sept. 17 before starting PAC-12 play at Colorado the following week.
- Location: Rose Bowl
- Kickoff: 2:07 p.m. local time
- Network: PAC-12 Network
What Do the Oddsmakers Say?
Most regulated online sportsbooks don’t have a point spread listed for the game. UCLA is a full-fledged member of the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) while Alabama State plays in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) which means less scholarship opportunities.
So this is like a major league baseball team playing a Triple-A team. Alabama State will have some good players…..just not as many as UCLA.
Still, you can find lines listing UCLA as 50.5-point favorites in the contest. There is no over/under posted. It remains to be seen if regulated books will wind up offering lines on this game.
Key Numbers – Point Spread
UCLA needed a late touchdown to cover against Bowling Green, but it happened. The Bruins were 8-4 against the spread last year.
UCLA is now +750 at FanDuel to win the PAC-12, that’s fourth behind USC, Utah and Oregon. UCLA is a top 20 pick to make the CFB Playoff
Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has moved up already in the Heisman futures to +6000.
Where Is Alabama State?
Alabama State plays in the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) East Division. The school hasn’t won the league since 2004. It has an enrollment of under 4,000 students on its campus in Montgomery, Alabama. UCLA’s is more than 10 times that.
Alabama State will bring its popular 200-piece strong marching band, the Mighty Marching Hornets, to perform. They have previously played at the Rose Parade.
There is only one player on the Hornets roster listed as being from California. Sophomore defensive back Mikey Victor went to Pomona High School, then to UNLV before transferring to Alabama State.
The Buzz About The Hornets
The Hornets moved on from coach Donald Hill-Eley and hired former Tennessee Titans star, and alum, Eddie Robinson Jr. this off-season. The Hornets were 5-6 last year and finished fifth in the SWAC East.
Also on staff with Robinson Jr. is Jacoby Jones as wide receiver coach, Jones is famous for having the longest play in Super Bowl history with his 109-yard kickoff return for the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII (that’s the year of the Super Bowl blackout in the Superdome).
Robinson Jr. is not related to legendary Grambling Coach Eddie Robinson.
Traditionally SWAC teams don’t even opt to play in the FCS championship (this is the tournament seemingly won by North Dakota State every year). SWAC division winners play in a SWAC title game and then crossover to play the MEAC Champion in the Celebration Bowl, which serves as a de facto HBCU championship game.
Players to Watch
The Bruins racked up 626 yards of offense against Bowling Green, with Thompson-Robinson throwing for 298 and running for 87. The better news for UCLA was the defense holding the Falcons to 162 yards of offense. Even in a mismatch, that’s a good defensive performance.
Alabama State quarterback Dematrius Davis threw a touchdown pass in the Hornets’ first win against Howard. He’s a freshman who signed with Auburn, sat on the bench and then transferred to Alabama State. Davis was injured in the Hornets’ win over Miles and his status for the UCLA game is unknown. Myles Crawley played quarterback for the Hornets against Miles.
The X Factor
The Rose Bowl crowd for the UCLA/Bowling Green game drew some attention on social media because it was so small, under 30,000. However, the raging heat wave in California certainly had something to do with that.
The good news is that the heat wave is scheduled to break before kickoff Saturday, with rain in the forecast and temperatures in the upper 70s.
On the field, UCLA will dominate. The big difference between a team like UCLA and Alabama State is always the size and quantity of linemen. The Hornets will have quality athletes, but won’t have a chance against the UCLA offensive and defensive lines. The halftime show will probably be better than the game.