MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) -Football fans from near and far filled Sun Life Stadium on New Year’s Day, hoping to start 2013 with a big win at the Discover Orange Bowl.
The game pit the Florida State Seminoles against the Northern Illinois Huskies.
For FSU fans, the trip to the game only took a few hours from the state’s capitol.
“A lot of Tallahassee came down,” Andrew Mann said at his group’s tailgate. Mann, of Plantation, is one of many ‘Noles who lives in South Florida.
Not to be outdone, the Huskies showed up in packs.
“We rode a bus down here,” David Larsh said. “It was a 25-hour drive.”
Northern Illinois, like Sydney Sisk, said the long trip was worth it.
“This is exciting,” Sisk, a freshman, explained. “I had to come.”
NIU was the underdog going in to the game, but even FSU fans acknowledged it might be an tough match-up.
“They had a 12-win season,” Kevin Zimmerman said. “Their quarterback? They have a full back playing quarterback. You know, I wish them all the best.
The stands were split. Many wore red, while others were sporting garnet and gold.
One of the famous faces at the game couldn’t resist showing his school spirit.
“Some of my buddies were like, ‘You can’t wear that. Showing favoritism.’ But hey, a fan’s gotta pull for him team,” country music star Jake Owen said. Owen performed at halftime. The FSU alum wore a Seminoles jersey sporting his newborn daughter’s name, Olive Pearl Owen.
“Growing up in Florida,” Owen said, “I’ve spent a lot of time watching the Orange Bowl and being a part of it. I was actually here last year, playing the parking lot. To make it inside the stadium to play, and Florida state be here, is pretty cool.”
While fans were excited to attend Tuesday’s game, many said it was bittersweet.
They really wished their teams could have played at Sun Life Stadium next week for the BCS National Title.
Instead, Alabama and Notre Dame will face off in Miami Gardens for the championship game on January 7th.