The Sweep

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Mandel_stewart
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T1_osusign
USC fans are getting pretty creative with their signs leading into the biggest game of this season (thus far).
Stewart Mandel/SI

LOS ANGELES -- The sun is shining. The grills are sizzling. Fans in jerseys are streaming down the streets leading to the L.A. Coliseum. Basically, you could not ask for a more idyllic game day than the one I'm currently soaking up here prior to tonight's Ohio State-USC showdown.

Signs of the gargantuan hype accompanying this game were evident from the time I parked my car five hours prior to kickoff. In front of the Coliseum's main entrance, there were three different ESPN sets -- one for GameDay, one for radio and one for autograph signings (Dick Butkus was on the riser when I arrived). Snaking around the corner, I walked smack into the mile-long line of USC students waiting for admission to their first-come, first-serve section. Some had camped out overnight.

Now, I am in the center of USC's campus, a 25-minute hike from the Coliseum but well worth it to partake in the mega-sized tailgate held by the proprietors of USCFootball.com. The guys have a 28-foot RV with a mural of the Song Girls covering the exterior of the vehicle and four flat-screen TVs mounted to the side under an awning (as can be seen below). Several rows of fans in mini-lawn chairs make for an outdoor viewing theater.

T1_tailgate
Stewart Mandel/SI

As I write this, I am literally sitting on the concrete amongst the front row of viewers, simultaneously keeping an eye on Michigan-Notre Dame, BYU-UCLA, Georgia-South Carolina and Purdue-Oregon.

As you might imagine, I've spotted quite a few creative signs amongst the uber-confident USC crowd, most of them insinuating that injured Buckeyes star Beanie Wells is, to put it softly, "a baby." The most creative: "Beanie Won't Play Because He's Scared of Rey." And then there's the one pictured at the top of this page.

Between the buildup, the celebrities and the primetime kickoff, I expect the atmosphere inside the stadium to be nothing short of electric tonight.

I just hope the game lives up to it.

Finally, I found this last picture of the two gentlement walking in front of me highly amusing. I call it "USC's Outlaws."

T1_outlaws
Stewart Mandel/SI

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