Scenes from a Saturday

In the SEC, you navigate your way to stadiums on Paul W. Bryant Drive and Peyton Manning Pass and even have to observe an 18 mph speed limit on Ole Miss' campus (most recently a 10 mph speed limit) to honor former Ole Miss greats Archie and Eli Manning.

Out on the West Coast, let's just say there's a little bit more going on outside the world of college football.

But that doesn't mean the passion, people and pageantry, all in their own way, aren't a treat.

Pat West, a diehard USC fan who's had a chance to travel to games at Arkansas, Nebraska and Ohio State, summed it up this way: "We have a life other than football. Football is this extra part of our life, but it's not our whole life. There's a whole life outside of football here."

Jenny Bailey, a regular at UCLA games, added, "In California, you don't grow up with football in your blood like they do in the South."

Nonetheless, similar to football in the SEC, it's the people who make the game-day experiences so special.

Benny Castro of Whittier, Calif., arrives at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum by 5 a.m. on game days to snag a prime spot for tailgating just across the street. He's been attending USC games for 25 years, and his tailgates put Southern hospitality to shame.

He and his best friend's sister, Lori Zavala, put on a massive spread with all the amenities, ranging from homemade salads, to chicken on the barbie, to a flat-screen television to watch all the other games and even a neon USC Trojans sign.

"Lori's the only one crazy enough to come here at 5 in the morning and sit in line so we can get our spot," Castro quipped.

One of their regulars, Russell Love, described their tailgate as "our own little sports bar. You really don't even need to go into the stadium."

Just around the corner on the South Lawn, Al Bautista of Downey, Calif., is whipping up a shrimp concoction that smells and tastes heavenly. His tailgate is easy to spot. Towering right next to him is a custom-made USC monster truck that belongs to his buddy, Juan Duran.

Once upon a time, Bautista's tailgate was so elaborate that he had a live band playing. OK, it might not have been Earth, Wind & Fire, but talk about livening up an already festive party. Sadly, USC officials don't allow live bands anymore on the South Lawn.

Prior to this season's Stanford game, which kicked off at 5 p.m. Pacific time, Bautista arrived early enough (6:45 a.m.) to cook breakfast for everyone. He then left at 8:30 a.m. to take his 10-year-old son, Angel, to his youth football game, but was back before lunch time.

"Hey, at least they won," Bautista joked.

Just getting to the games in Los Angeles can be an adventure. As iconic a setting as the Rose Bowl is, it's not like UCLA students can roll out of bed just prior to noon on Saturdays and stroll across campus to the stadium. The university does provide shuttles for students.

Either way, it's a haul, and the UCLA-Washington game this season kicked off at 6 p.m. Pacific time on a Friday.

What that meant for Andrew Biren was taking the day off. He's an attorney who works in the Hollywood Hills area of L.A.

"Getting here from where I work during rush-hour traffic would be like coming from Siberia," said Biren, who's been coming to UCLA games since 1998.

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