“Dad, I’m telling you, if we ever make it back to the Rose Bowl, you’ve got to come. I will fly you out, I don’t care. No, no, no, I can’t explain it. Just trust me. The Rose Bowl is just...different.”
Those words were spoken by Craig, a Palo Alto native and Stanford season-ticket who sat next to me at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday afternoon. Granted, Craig’s words might have been a bit more slurred than they appear in print (he was easily 12 beers deep) and quite possibly just a tiny bit more angry as well (Craig told me prior to kick-off “If my wife knew how much money I had riding on this game, she might literally kill me”). Still, his point remains salient on this morning, a few days after the Cardinal beat Wisconsin 20-14 on Tuesday: There really is nothing like the Rose Bowl. It’s just... different.
I can now say definitively agree with Craig, since after years of watching the game on TV, I was lucky enough to witness it in person on Tuesday afternoon. I live in California now, got tickets the day of the game (I didn’t cover the game as a member of the media but went as a fan) and made my way down to the stadium just moments before kick-off of the “Grand Daddy of Them All.” And now, with a few days to reflect on the experience, I’m ready to give all a little insight into the experience of it all.
And ultimately, that’s what this article is about: The experience of being there on game day. By now the game has long since gone final, meaning that there really is no reason for me to provide any analysis or insight into the game. If you’re looking for that, I’m sorry, but you’ll probably have to go somewhere else.