TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Considering the sea of red, screaming Buckeye fans packing Sun Devil Stadium,



TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Considering the sea of red, screaming Buckeye fans packing Sun Devil Stadium, it wouldn't be hard to mistake Friday's national championship Fiesta Bowl for an Ohio State home game.
Decked out in Buckeye T-shirts, hats and face paint, more than 60,000 avid Ohio State fans descended on Tempe Friday for the national championship Fiesta Bowl game, easily outnumbering Miami Hurricane fans.
The No. 2 Buckeyes won their first national title since the 1969 Rose Bowl Friday night, beating top-ranked Miami in double overtime 31-24.
"We weren't going to come all this way, but it was so infectious. We just couldn't stay away," said Ohio State alumna Teri Merens, who said 90 percent of the passengers on her plane were Buckeye fans.
Merens and her husband spared no expense for Friday's game. The couple purchased tickets through their hotel for $1,000 apiece.
"I haven't been to a bowl game since I graduated," she said, lifting her sweat shirt to display a 1980 Buckeye Bowl T-shirt as proof.
The Merenses were lucky. By the end of the first quarter, about 1,000 fans outside the stadium were still searching for tickets.
Ohio State fan Christene Kimmel was willing to pay $400 for a ticket but couldn't find a scalper anywhere offering less than $600.
"I hope they choke on them," Kimmel said, adding that she had been offered fake tickets.
Miami fans may have been outnumbered, but that didn't stop them from showing their colors.
After meeting at the Rose Bowl in Miami last year, Phoenix residents Cindy and Scott Lavery became fast friends with Hurricane fans Michelle and Rob Oney of Ft. Myers, Fla. The Laverys invited the Oneys out for the Fiesta Bowl this year.
Donning as many beads as revelers at Mardi Gras, the couples prepared to enter the stadium to show their loyalty.
For good luck, Cindy Lavery even brought a green rabbit's foot and pompons from her days as a Hurricane cheerleader in 1981.
"These things have so much beer spilled in them," Lavery said jokingly of her good luck charms.
Besides alcohol violations, pickpocketing, and reports of fake tickets, there were no major incidents before or during the game, said Lt. John Sutton of the Arizona State University Police Department.
Security for the 76,000 fans included more than 200 law enforcement officers and an additional 300 privately contracted security officers. By the second half, horse-mounted police in riot gear were already stationed at the stadium's main entrance to prevent rioting similar to what followed Ohio State's 14-9 win over rival Michigan in Columbus Nov. 23.
Ohio state officials have warned that any students arrested after the Fiesta Bowl -- whether they've watched it in Ohio or Arizona -- will be suspended and could face expulsion.

Subscribe Today

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive daily news.

Want more? Click here to subscribe to either the Print or Digital Editions.

AP News