Fear and Loathing in Pasadena
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January 1st, 2005 – by: trhoades
Brief history lesson for those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about. The Rose Bowl is a college football game played in Pasadena, California, usually on New Year's Day. It is the main event of the Tournament of Roses which includes the famous Rose Bowl Parade along with other activities. It's normally played between the winner of the Big-10 conference (midwestern USA) and Pac-10 conference (West Coast USA), though not always. For Big-10 fans, it's particularly special because it's a reward for not only the team, but the fans. Because they get to leave the freezing cold midwest and go out to California in January.
This was not my first time to the Rose Bowl so I knew the drill when I arrived. Pasadena is a beautiful setting for a football game, stadium nestled into a valley with mountains on three sides. It is however, somewhat of a nightmare to get in and out of. Because the parade occurs the morning of the game, the place is a zoo no matter what time you show up. I was staying in Santa Monica so I drove in early to beat traffic. That gave me a great opportunity to scope out the tailgating scene. Texas fans outnumbered Michigan fans.
The grilling and boozing was impressive, something Texas fans do well. What they don't do particularly well is modesty. They were 100% convinced they would win this game, and by a lot. I was not so sure. Michigan had a young, but good team. What I did know was that Texas had a player named Vince Young that could exploit Michigan's biggest weakness, which was their inability to defend quarterbacks that run well. The previous game Michigan had lost to Ohio State when another fast quarterback named Troy Smith carved up their defense.
The Rose Bowl stadium itself is outdated at best. The bathroom facilities are ridiculously inadequate and you actually have to walk outside the stadium and near the concession stands to find one. The stadium is built like Michigan Stadium, one continuous bowl vs. a multi-tiered structure, and it hold upwards of 90,000 spectators. I was in the end zone mixed in with a bunch of annoying Longhorn fans (though there really aren't any other kind). The pre-game festivities were the usual marching bands, singers, and military jets flying overhead. By the time the game started, I had the usual lump in my throat. If you've ever read Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, he describes watching Arsenal games as torturous experiences.
This game was LOADED will future NFL players. Just off the top of my head, Texas had : Vince Young, Cedric Benson, Bo Scaife, Aaron Ross, David Thomas, and Derrick Johnson. Michigan had: Braylon Edwards, Lamar Woodley, David Harris, Alan Branch, Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Marlon Jackson, etc. But the list goes on and on. The game went back and forth. Michigan had a freshman QB and running back but the best receiver in college football that year, Braylon Edwards. They ran most of the offense through him and managed to put some points on the board. Steve Breaston also had the best game of his career, setting an all-time record for yardage in the Rose Bowl (again, nobody remembers this game).
I looked at the field and saw the entire Michigan defense laying on the ground in agony.
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