You've heard of the sea of red at Husker home games.
Think of this one more like a Big Red quilt.
Today's game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., will likely be blanketed with a big and energized patchwork of Husker fans — those flying in from halfway across the country and those folks living close enough to drive.
Fans from places with a long thread of University of Nebraska alumni — California, Arizona and Las Vegas — won't pass up a chance to catch the Huskers playing so close to their home.
Nebraskans — and the roughly 180,000 NU alumni across the country — are a potent combination for filling stadiums. Key road games draw big Husker crowds: 20,000 at the 2005 Alamo Bowl and 30,000 at Notre Dame's stadium in 2000.
More than 60,000 Husker fans attended the Rose Bowl when NU played Miami for the national championship at the end of the 2001 season. Will the Husker horde be as large today?
There's no doubt thousands of NU fans will turn out, but the games are different.
For one, the matchup with Miami was a bowl game, and NU was at the pinnacle of college football.
Still, today's game is the premier nonconference contest on the Husker's 2012 schedule. Plus, it's in a top vacation spot at a tradition-rich stadium, and NU fans always look for a great road trip.
“We turned it into a vacation slash Husker road trip,'' said Derek Larson of Bennington, who arrived in Pasadena on Tuesday with his wife and other family members. “It's a great atmosphere.”
UCLA said it was expecting more than 60,000 fans for today's game, including Huskers. The Rose Bowl's capacity is about 90,000.
Keith Mann, NU's assistant athletic director for media relations, expects there will be more than 10,000 Big Red fans at the game.
NU received 8,000 tickets from UCLA, and all have been sold, he said. Husker fans also could buy tickets from private sellers and directly from UCLA.
Kent Wiedel, past president of the NU alumni group Californians for Nebraska, says there could be more than 20,000 Husker fans from across the country cheering in the stadium. He based that prediction on the volume of calls for tickets his group fielded, along with overall interest in the game.
He said his group took up to two dozen calls per day during the past month from fans in California, Nebraska and other states looking for tickets. They helped provide fans 2,000 tickets overall.
He said NU alumni in the Golden State are warriors for Husker football and are pumped about the game.
California has 6,800 NU graduates, third highest of any state, behind Nebraska and Colorado.
Wiedel said fans are also flocking from Arizona, which ranks seventh among states with about 3,500 NU alums. About 500 NU alumni live in the Las Vegas area, less than a five-hour drive from Pasadena.
Big Red backers also are traveling to the game from other Western states such as Washington and Idaho, said Wiedel, who grew up on a farm near Hubbell, Neb.
“There will be a lot of red there,'' he said.
Husker fans from out west will bump into a big batch of NU followers from Omaha, Lincoln and other Nebraska cities.
AAA Travel has booked flights and packages for dozens of Husker fans in Nebraska, said Rose White, a spokeswoman.
Fans booking flights on their own had lots of time to plan their trips because the UCLA game has been on the Husker schedule for six years.
Larson, the Bennington man, said he spotted plenty of Husker fans in the Los Angeles area this week, including a few at a taping of the “Tonight Show” he attended with family.
Larson, his wife and other family members also toured the Warner Bros. studio and were planning some beach time and a shopping trip to Rodeo Drive.
Jay Leno and ocean views are great, he said, but the trip's main attraction will start with the boot of the ball.
“We knew that with the fan base,” he said, “this would be a huge game.”
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