PASADENA, Calif. — The Rose Bowl made a triumphant return to Pasadena on Saturday for an exciting showdown between Ohio State and Utah.
A sea of red swarmed outside the stadium before the game, as fans were fired up.
Former Utah football player Jeff Battcher flew from Macon, Georgia to tailgate.
“It’s the granddaddy of them all,” he said. “There’s no doubt this is the biggest event in any football player’s career to play here. I would have given anything to play here.”
Ohio State supporter Tom Murnane made a quick trip from Agoura Hills to see the sporting spectacle.
“Big Buckeye fan, so we go back to Columbus for all the home games,” he said. “Today all we had to do was drive across town for this one, so it’s great.”
After a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases canceled five other bowl games, some weren’t sure if the Rose Bowl would take place.
“I thought that this game could be canceled,” Battcher said. “But I was coming regardless, to be with my friends.”
“We were very concerned,” Murnane said. “Even two hours before kickoff, we’re still crossing our fingers and hoping to play.”
Utah’s fans filled up the stands, taking up more than three-quarters of the Rose Bowl seats.
“This is like a home game for us, you should see all the fans that are here,” Battcher said. “We’re going to dominate in the stands and on the field today.”
Yet the Buckeye faithful weren’t intimidated, as their squad made its 16th Rose Bowl appearance.
“I’m not nervous at all, we’ve been here a lot,” Ohio State fan Jack Doyle said. “I think it’s going to be an easy win, it won’t be a war but I think it’ll go well.”
No matter what side you were rooting for, it was all about ringing in 2022 with an American tradition.
“You don’t do anything on News Years Day except watch football all day long,” Utah fan Maddie Peters said. “That’s just the way it is and we love it.”
When it was all said and done, Ohio State defeated Utah 48-45 in a high-scoring shootout.