PASADENA, Calif. — Of the first 10 fans who passed through the Rose Bowl gates Saturday afternoon, seven were wearing red.
The crowd ratio got a little bit better for the home team, but not by much.
Road game? More like a bowl game for Nebraska.
About 10,000 red-clad fans congregated in the north end of the stadium, with another 10,000 or so scattered throughout the stadium, creating a somewhat neutral crowd.
The announced crowd at the 91,500-seat Rose Bowl was 71,530. As somebody Tweeted before the game, there were empty seats because UCLA fans had better things to do.
Like, living in California.
(There’s truth to that. We went to Manhattan Beach on Saturday morning, and the temptation was great to stay there).
About 20 minutes before kickoff, the chants of “GO BIG RED!” bounced off a bunch of empty seats.
And when a UCLA guy with a microphone took the field about 15 minutes before kickoff, trying to elicit a rousing crowd spelling of B-R-U-I-N-S, he was drowned out by more “GO BIG RED!” chants.
There was no pregame show by the UCLA band. In fact, there was barely a band at all. About 40 members, maybe. (But, remember, UCLA is on the quarter system, and classes haven’t yet begun).
So, all in all, it didn’t have the electric feel of a big-time college atmosphere (until maybe the fourth quarter). That doesn’t (and can’t possibly) take away from the beauty of this old stadium, which is getting a face-lift with new suites. It’s a picturesque setting.
The backdrop is a beautiful view of the San Gabriel Mountains, with palm trees and evergreens just beyond the stadium.
* I’m not saying football isn’t as big of a deal here, but the TV above me in the press box was showing reruns of the "The Partridge Family" before the game.
* Football must not be big in Boulder anymore, either. Sacramento State 30, Colorado 28. I saw that score about 90 seconds before a pregame press box announcement saying Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott would be available for interviews.
* The Big Ten doesn’t have much room to talk. Oregon State 10, Wisconsin 7. Iowa State 9, Iowa 6. Michigan wasn’t exactly dominant in its home opener against Air Force, either.
* Helium shortage? Five red balloons were released after Nebraska’s first touchdown, proving there’s still somebody blowing hot air in L.A.
* I’m guessing this isn’t the week to ask Bo about Blackshirts.
* Gus Johnson was announcing. What did you expect?