CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. - Auburn and Minnesota college football fans packed Clearwater Beach Monday for the annual Outback Bowl Beach Day.
“Oh my gosh, look at the blue sky! It’s, what? 78 degrees! We're loving it,” said Diane Huseth, a Golden Gophers fan from Minnesota.
Beachgoers were treated to performances by each school's marching bands, games, and activities, and appearances by the cheer squads and mascots, ahead of Wednesday's Outback Bowl.
“It is an awesome event, I didn’t realize how big it was going to be,” said Josh Griffith, an Auburn fan living in the Bay Area.
This year's Outback Bowl matchup is the first time Auburn and Minnesota have ever squared off. No matter who wins, it is likely the Tampa Bay region may claim the biggest victory, as the bowl is said to bring in tens of millions of dollars each year.
“It really worked out well. People come back to town. We picked up members of the Outback Bowl, they came here, had a great time, then moved their company here,” said Chuck Riggs, Chairman of the Outback Beach Bowl.
Fans of both teams were generally friendly but both were confident they’d be crowned Outback Bowl champs.
“I’m looking 37 to 29, Minnesota,” said Minnesota fan Jay Mega.
”Auburn wins by 2 touchdowns,” countered Griffith.
The Outback Bowl kicks off at 1 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium Wednesday and will broadcast on ESPN.