The first memory of my life involves the Rose Bowl.
On January 31, 1993, the Cowboys played the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. Putting aside the fact that the NFL will never do something as cool as put the Super Bowl in the Rose Bowl again, it was a historic day. Dallas handed out one of heftiest ass-beatings in NFL history, launching themselves toward team of the 90s status. Michael Jackson played an all-time halftime show. Troy Aikman threw the ball like it had a built-in auto-pilot feature:
The funny thing is I have no idea whether my memories of it are actually real. I was barely two-and-a-half years old during that game, and I'm sure there's research that says you don't remember anything until you're four or something.
In reality, that game is probably vivid in my memory because I spent so much of my childhood watching the 1992 Cowboys Super Bowl Champions VHS. (No bullshit: I still get emotional watching the Toby Keith music video at the end.) Before I became obsessed with college football, constantly re-watching that VHS was my introduction to how special the Rose Bowl is. In the years since, it became to me what it is to a lot of fans: the holy grail of football stadiums.
(Sidenote: the first thing in my life I 100% remember also involves the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. Three years later during Super Bowl XXX vs the Steelers, my dad was celebrating a play and accidentally stepped on my throat while I was laying on the floor. As I recall rolling around and clutching my throat in pain, all I can think about is how this fuckin' team makes me feel exactly that every year as they struggle to even make it back to the NFC Championship Game. That's a column for a different day, though.)
That brings us to now. After years of saying the same thing 90% of CFB fans say at least once –"One day I'm going to the Rose Bowl"– everything lined up perfect to finally do it.
Ohio State opened their season on Thursday at Minnesota, so that left my week one Saturday open for LSU-UCLA. My dad worked on an oil rig outside of Baton Rouge for a bit after he graduated high school, so he has a soft spot for LSU. My girlfriend is from LA, her parents still live there, and it was her dad's birthday that weekend. Easy sell. Finally, it was a chance for my dad to meet her parents, while also cashing in on all the years we spent talking about going to the Rose Bowl. At some point it felt like the universe was begging me to go to this game so it could put a foot up my ass if I didn't. Yeah, it wasn't the actual Rose Bowl game, but LSU playing UCLA for the first time in either program's history ain't far off when it comes to tradition. So when UCLA made tickets available to the public, I didn't think twice, and bought two the second they dropped.