Growing up back East, Terry Richards said, the annual Rose Bowl game on New Year's Day had an obvious appeal.
"It was nice to watch the Rose Bowl when it was 10 degrees outside and it's 85 degrees on TV and the people are wearing T-shirts," said Richards, who lives in Folsom. "I would think it would sure be nice to be one of them."
Today, Richards will be one of them in a way he never imagined. He is traveling to Pasadena to watch his son, Jordan Richards, play in the 99th Rose Bowl as a starting safety for Stanford.
It is the first time since 2000 that either Stanford or Cal has won the right to play in Pasadena Stanford lost to Wisconsin that year and Cal hasn't made a Rose Bowl appearance since 1959 and Richards isn't the only Sacramento-area Cardinal fan to make the trip.
Throughout the region, many Stanford alumni and rooters bought tickets to the 2 p.m. game that again features a matchup against Wisconsin.
"There is definitely a mass exodus of Northern California people," said Fadia Desmond, board president of the Sacramento Stanford Association. "I have friends who are so excited that they headed down (Friday)."
Known as "The Granddaddy of Them All," the Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game in college football, pitting the champions of the Pac-12 and Big 10 conferences, unless one of those teams qualifies for the BCS National Championship Game.
Some critics questioned whether the National Championship Game, which was separated from the traditional bowl lineup in 2006, would detract from the prestige of the nation's big four bowl games. Attendance has gone down at the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls, but it remains steady at the Rose Bowl, which seats more than 90,000.
Just 24 hours after the Cardinal qualified for the Rose Bowl by winning the Pac-12 title in late November, Stanford sold its allotment of 31,000 tickets.
"Stanford football fans are very serious about their football," said Carol Magdiel Hoge, the organizer of a Rose Bowl viewing party for fellow Stanford graduates in the Sacramento region at Woodcreek Golf Course in Roseville.
Folsom High football coach Kris Richardson said he will open his home to family and friends wanting to cheer on former Bulldog Jordan Richards.
"We will be glued to the TV," said Richardson, who coached Richards through three varsity seasons, including Folsom High's 2010 state championship team. "We wanted to watch it in person, but it was pricier than we hoped."
Richards started every game at safety, coming up with key plays during Stanford's notable season. He had an interception and helped lead a defensive effort that knocked off then-No. 2 USC 21-14 in September. In November, he had four tackles in the Cardinal's 17-14 overtime stunner over then-No. 1 Oregon.
Other local players on Stanford's roster include Jackson Cummings of Rocklin High, Matt Kasner of Granite Bay High and Eddie Plantaric of Del Campo High.
"This borders on surreal," said Terry Richards, Jordan's father, who coaches the freshman football team at Folsom High. "It's humbling how many people who are not fans have become fans. I have a good friend who went to Cal and she even tells me she is rooting for Stanford. If you know about that rivalry, then you know that's a hard thing to do."
Stanford (11-2) and Wisconsin (8-5) both have something to prove. Wisconsin has failed to win the Rose Bowl crown the past two years, losing 21-19 to Texas Christian University in 2011 and 45-38 to Oregon last year.
Stanfordis looking to avenge its 17-9 loss to Wisconsin in 2000.
"I'm so excited," said Erin Montoya, a Stanford alum and season ticket holder from Sacramento, who was at the Rose Bowl in 2000 to support the Cardinal.
Montoya, who is six months pregnant, will be attending today's this year'sRose Bowl with her husband, also a Stanford alum, and her two children, ages 3 and 2.
"It's a big deal," Montoya said. "It's a big game. It's been so gratifying to see the program validated. It's really an amazing culmination and validation that we can be an amazing university and have a really great sports program."