The Ohio State football team got to the Rose Bowl just after noon -- or about six hours after Jada Bates (OSU class of 2001) and a half-dozen other Buckeye boosters set up their tailgate party in the back of a white SUV near parking lot F.
Bates, who hails from LeBron James' hometown of Akron, Ohio, but lives now in Sherman Oaks, rarely gets to see the Buckeyes in person. So with Ohio State back in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997, he couldn't pass up the chance to come out and see the team -- and talented sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor -- in person.
"Terrelle's young, man. This is going to be the game that showcases that potential," he said..
Chimed in friend Dewyane Cephas, in between shout-outs to anyone passing in red or gray Ohio State colors: "We're die-hard fans. I even have a Buckeye room in the house."
While Bates was lauding Ohio State's quarterback, Cephas, clad in a No. 10 Buckeye jersey, predicted the defense would make New Year's Day a painful one for Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
"[Safety] Kurt Coleman is going to represent, dude," he said. "He's going to hit Masoli so hard, his grandkids are going to feel it."
"Kurt Coleman is going to hit Masoli so hard in the second quarter. I'm not going to say he's going to get injured. But there's going to be some problems," Bates added. "Our defense is nasty."
He was equally sure Ohio State would win. "I'm positive," Bates said.
Patrick Reynolds, an Ohio State fan from enemy territory in Beaverton, Ore., was hopeful but not as certain. "Oregon's got a tough team," he said.
Reynolds became a Buckeye fan growing up in nearby Eagle Rock at a time when Ohio State seemed to make annual trips to the Rose Bowl, which he attended several times. For his 7-year-old son Cooper, clad in a red No. 33 Ohio State jersey, today's Rose Bowl was his first.
"I like Ohio State," he said, "because my dad likes Ohio State."
-- Kevin Baxter