Forty years before becoming the university's head football coach, Buddy Pough attended a laboratory-style elementary school on the South Carolina State campus.

On Saturdays, he'd march behind the Bulldogs' band before football games.

When it was time to pick a place to play football, Pough's parents, both SCSU graduates, were clear about their preference.

"They were going to be here on Saturday," Pough said, "whether I was playing or not."

Before being named the head coach in 2001 after five seasons at the University of South Carolina, Pough played for the Bulldogs team that was at the center of campus culture in Orangeburg, S.C.

"When you're from the town, and you went to games here," he said, "it was all you knew."

The Arizona Wildcats will learn about it for the first time Saturday.

When the Bulldogs (1-1) take the field at Arizona Stadium, they will become the first-ever Historically Black Colleges and Universities team to play against the UA.

There are 105 HBCUs nationwide, as defined by the 1965 Higher Education Act as then-existing schools whose primarily goals were to educate African-Americans.

HBCUs play in five major leagues, including the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, of which Division I-AA SCSU is a charter member.

"We have a history here in the HBCU," said quarterback Richard Cue, who has completed 27 of 57 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns.

"We try to do things traditionally - pep rallies, things of that nature. You have the bands - they're really cool."

Pough said his program - winner of 14 conference titles in 104 years - isn't defined by race.

The Bulldogs have three white players - kickers and punters - and a diverse coaching staff.

"We're not very much different, with what we look like, once the team reaches the field," Pough said. "I would say that we pride ourselves on the fact that we don't look much different.

"Unless you look inside our headgear. You might see a little darker complexion."

Not so with kickoff specialist Will Roper.

"I'm as white as they come," the redshirt sophomore said, laughing. "Very white."

The Hendersonville, N.C., product started his football career as a walk-on at Arizona State. He still remembers the Arizona Stadium crowd during the Alex Zendejas missed-PATs game in 2010.

"I guarantee you," he said, "no one out there's ever heard of South Carolina State."

He hadn't heard of South Carolina State, either, until he began looking at schools.

Roper flirted with major-conference schools after leaving Tempe but was left with one major suitor, the Bulldogs. The school was close to home and offered a chance to play.

SCSU doesn't offer the glamour of the Pac-12, he said, but the fan culture is unique and vibrant.

"I can't really explain it," he said. "It's almost like a big fraternity - everyone that's been to an HBCU."

The Bulldogs are bringing a caravan of boosters, even though they're decided underdogs Saturday.

"If you mess around with us and allow us to hang in a game," Pough said, "if given the opportunity, we've got a chance."