COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ten of thousands of fans converged on the Ohio State campus on Saturday for the historic game between the Buckeyes and Michigan, packing pregame parties in the streets and parking lots around Ohio Stadium.
Huge crowds of Ohio State backers created a virtual sea of scarlet as they arrived in bright red jackets, shirts, sweatshirts, pants, caps and sweaters.
Hundreds of private tailgate parties brought families together around Ohio while enormous outdoor parties attracted thousands with beer sales, big screen TVs and live music.
The game pits the top two teams in the country for the first time in the rivalry's history, with the winner getting a spot in the national championship game.
"Why would you miss it, the greatest game of the century," Gloria Farmer, 54, of Louisville, Ky., a 1973 Ohio State graduate.
Phil Brown got it up at 2:30 a.m. and was on campus securing his parking place by 4:15 a.m. Brown, from Circleville south of Columbus, and his family munched on chips, brats and hamburgers before the game.
Brown, 69, a highway construction supervisor, never considered selling his tickets.
"I don't have these tickets to make a profit," he said. "It wouldn't be right."
Vendors on streets near campus sold everything from necklaces made of buckeyes to obscene Michigan shirts, doing brisk sales on both. Overhead, eight planes pulled business advertisements. Lines several people deep formed outside portable toilets.
Many fans came without tickets and planned to watch the game on the numerous big screen TVs outside the stadium.
"If you don't get tickets, it's still a great game," said Rick Krohn, 48, of Wauseon in northwest Ohio, a furniture maker.
He and his wife, Carol, and their friends walked around on campus Friday night until 1 a.m. and then came back early to soak up the scene.
Before the game, crowds were loud, but generally calm and numerous police officers could be seen keeping an eye on the festivities.
The city also banned parking, emptied trash bins and removed couches from porches in some neighborhoods near campus hoping to avoid a repeat of 2002 when fans rioted after Ohio State beat Michigan en route to the national championship.
A few Michigan fans scattered through the crowd said they had been treated relatively well. Some Ohio State fans approached Michigan fans and wished them good luck while others taunted them with obscenities.
Ohio State and the city spent several days encouraging people to watch their behavior. Texas fans complained last year about being heckled and sworn at when the Longhorns beat the Buckeyes.
Will Heininger, a high school senior from Ann Arbor, said he and a buddy had been heckled a few times, but nothing serious.
"We let a lot of it go because we feel we're better than them," the 17-year-old said. "It just makes them look like fools."