As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, I am the black sheep in my family when it comes to not going to University of Wisconsin (Madison) for college. I decided to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee instead. However, since Marquette does not have a football team, I cheer for the Badgers in football.
That being said; minutes after Wisconsin beat Michigan in the Big House on Nov. 20 2010, I booked our flight and hotel to Los Angeles (LAX) even though there was one weekend left in the season. With Ohio State having to play Michigan in Columbus; Michigan State having to play at Penn State; and the Badgers hosting the nerds from Northwestern, I was confident Wisconsin was going to be headed to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. It was a bit of a risk because Wisconsin needed a three-way-tie with OSU and MSU or an MSU loss.
As the last week of the regular Big Ten season concluded, my gamble paid off with the Buckeyes, Spartans, and Badgers all winning, sending Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin received the invite to the Rose Bowl because they finished ahead OSU and MSU in the BCS standings.
Wisconsin was set to play Texas Christian University aka “The Little Sisters of the poor,” according to OSU president, E. Gordon Gee.
On Dec. 30 2010, my girl friend and I flew from Chicago (ORD) to LAX. While walking through the terminal at O’Hare, it was sight to see Badger fans waiting to board all the flights out west. Our American Airlines flight was 75% full of people wearing red. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of what was to come.
Once we arrived in LA and picked up our Hybrid from Hertz we went straight to In-N-Out Burger to get the true Southern Cal experience. Afterwards, we checked-in to our hotel at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills. My sister works for the Sofitel in Washington DC, so we were able to get an excellent rate.
PARTY ON THE PIER:
We then drove to Santa Monica for the “Party on the Pier,” an event organized by the University of Wisconsin. We got caught in the stereotypical LA traffic, on the way the Pier, but nonetheless we made it. While walking across the overpass to the pier, we could see the Pacific Ocean and then we saw it… the Sea of Red! There were approximately 35,000 Badger fans gathering on the pier and in the parking lot. With a stage set up in the N.W. corner of the parking lot, the UW Band and Cheerleaders performed and former badger stars such as Heisman Trophy winner, Ron Dayne and Brooks Bollinger spoke about their past experiences at the Rose Bowl.
After spotting the 2010 Big Ten Champions arrive in 4 buses, Lizzy and I made our way through the sand to greet the players. I yelled at J.J. Watt “He J.J. can I get a picture?” “Sorry dude, I can’t,” he replied. At this moment I wished I were 20-years younger b/c he wouldn’t say no to a 5-year-old haha.
During the pep-rally, I met up with my Aunt and Uncle and two cousins. We then went to dinner at an Italian Restaurant called Il Fornaio. The food looked better then it tasted and the service was terrible. The cool thing about the restaurant was that Badger Fans occupied every single table.LA LIFESTYLE:
We spent the last day of the 2010 year exploring. In the morning, we looked up breakfast places and came across Nate n’ Al which happened to be on an episode of Entourage. When we showed up, there was a 20-minute waiting list. The crowd was a mix of celebrities, TCU fans, Badger fans, and regulars.
While we were waiting to be seated, the greatest interviewer of all time, Larry King grazed shoulders with Lizzy. We were then seated next to a couple that were regulars. The man was on the phone with Scarlett Johansen and murmured to his friend that “Scarlett will here in 45-minutes.” The gentleman, who and the end, introduced himself as Peter, told us that Larry King lives a block away from Nate n’ Al’s and has breakfast here every morning. The lady, who did not give her name worked for the media. They were really nice people and seem to know a lot about celebrities.Everywhere we turned we saw TCU and Wisconsin fans. Lizzy has a love for cupcakes so we went to a cupcake bakery called Sprinkles. We then decided to drive around 90210 and explore the houses. On the neighborhood street corners, tables were set up selling “celebrity house maps.” We decided not to buy one but we passed some gated homes where we saw celebrity tour busses parked outside the walls—So we knew we were in the correct location.
Afterwards, we drove to the Staples Center and visited the Downtown Area. When we arrived they were setting up for a TCU fan event. I overheard one TCU fan say “That’s the only Badger Fan (referring to me) I’ve seen all trip. He must be lost.” I looked at him and said, “You should have gone to Santa Monica yesterday b/c there were 40,000 people in red roaming around.”
Having already been to Hollywood, Lizzy and I decided to skip the Walk of Fame and go on the hunt for the Hollywood sign. We wanted to see how close we could get to the sign. We found ourselves in a neighborhood called Hollywoodland and got what seemed to be 400 yards away from the sign. After the hunt, we returned to our hotel to freshen up for New Years Eve.
NEW YEARS EVE:
I made a 6:30 reservation at Lawry’s Prime Rib in Beverly Hills when we booked our flights. I came across this restaurant after reading about the Beef Bowl. Lawry’s hosts the Beef Bowl where both Rose Bowl teams compete against one another eating 20 oz prime ribs. Wisconsin won the 2010 Beef Bowl with one Badger player eating seven 20 oz Prime ribs. I ordered the Beef Bowl Cut and struggled to finish it but succeeded!
ROSE BOWL PARADE:
After dinner, we returned back to the hotel to call it an early night. We stayed up to watch the Ball drop in New York’s Times Square and then went to sleep. We had to be up at 5am to head to Pasadena because we were told traffic and parking would be an issue if we left at 6:30 like we wanted.
We took the elevator down to the lobby, where we were greeted by 200 TCU fans waiting to board three charter busses bound for Pasadena. We parted the purple sea by walking right through them.
As we approached the stadium, we took the first exit for Pasadena because we saw the glow of break-lights a ¼ mile beyond the exit. We parked in Lot H for $40 right outside the stadium with the temperature hovering above freezing.
Lizzy and I walked towards Colorado Ave. in downtown Pasadena to go watch the Rose Bowl Parade. To be honest, I was not thrilled to attend the parade but attending this particular parade has been Lizzy’s dream. However, after hours of standing on the side of the road, watching marching bands, cowboys and floats pass—the wait was well worth it. The size and detail that went into the floats was amazing. I highly recommend attending this event in one’s lifetime.
We then walked back to the stadium to attend the public tailgate located between Lot H and the stadium. We enjoyed some good food but I highly recommend tailgating on your own, if you have the equipment.
Around 1:00pm we made our way towards Gate 4 of the Rose Bowl. Our seats were located in tunnel 4, row 9 seats 13 & 14. I have never heard of a section called tunnel 4 and found that interesting until we walked into the stadium. We literally had to walk through a dark tunnel to get to our seats. As we neared the end of the tunnel the Southern California sunlight started to appear and my heart started to race. A huge smile filled my face as I saw the perfectly green gridiron.
Our seats were located on the Badgers sideline 9 rows up on the 35-yardline! I was in awe when I saw our seats. Since we arrived early for the game, I was able to spot Ron Dayne on the sideline chatting to personnel. When I was 11-years-old my dad bought me Ron Dayne’s #33 Jersey for Christmas. As soon as I spotted the “Great Dayne” pointed at me and gave me the head nod!
The pre-game events were amazing—The TCU and UW bands performed; the U.S. Coast Guard had the game ball parachuted in; and during the national anthem there was a 4-jet flyover.
Attending the Rose Bowl was an awesome experience. The aerial view of the stadium is completely deceiving because 2/3 of the stadium was filled with red. The aerial makes it look like it was 50/50 but there was a distinct line where the red began and the purple ended (TCU fans had 5 sections).
Wisconsin received the opening kick and Monte Ball broke a 40-yard run on the opening play of the game. The drive ended with an opening field-goal. TCU responded immediately with a touchdown and the game went back and forth. Wisconsin concluded the first half with an approximately 6 minute drive and ended the half with a field goal. They headed to the locker room down by 1 point to TCU (14-13). I should mention that in the first quarter, the Badgers missed a field goal.
The second half was dominated by the Horned Frogs. The Badgers defensive coverage was terrible throughout the game. They played soft coveage and got burned by the long ball and quick slants. Wisconsin had a chance to tie the game with 2:00 minutes remaining in the game having just scored a touchdown to be down 19-21. Instead of running the ball with 1 of their 3 beast running backs, the Badgers tried to pass and failed to complete the 2-point conversion.
The Badgers lined up for an on-side-kick and failed to recover it. The TCU Horned Frogs converted a first down and were able to line up in victory formation. I was really disappointed with the way the entire Badgers team performed (coaches, offense, defense, and special teams). Congratulations to Texas Christian University for beating the Goliath of the Big Ten.Special thanks go to my Papa for giving me the tickets for Christmas!