Ninety minutes before kickoff on Saturday for the University of Washington-California football game and their Pac-12 opener, Husky Stadium was noticeably festive and energized than the week before, with more cars in the parking lot and more boats moored along the shoreline.
Riding in four busses across the 520 bridge from Bellevue, the Bears arrived first at 4:15 p.m., disembarked wearing serious, stern faces and quietly headed for the visitors' locker room.
Fifteen minutes later, the Huskies drove up in three busses coming from the same direction of suburbia, walked a party-like gauntlet of cheering fans, cheerleaders and band members and headed straight for the field.
With a half-dozen Cal players stretching, walking around and watching this now Husky tradition, UW players lined up on the east goal line to the strains of Bow Wow by Snoop Dogg booming through the public-address system and walked arm in arm to midfield.
A few of the Bears weren't all that impressed by the show of UW unity, smirking as they saw everything unfold.
More fans were in the stands an hour before kickoff than for the Arkansas State game the previous weekend, notably students, who begin attending classes this coming week.
Outside, everything seemed to be running smoothly for fans entering the facility with new COVID-19 mandates requiring proof of vaccination or a positive test within 72 hours of the game.
Well before the busses arrived, 500 high school cheerleaders practiced a collective routine for halftime before giving way to the Husky band and then joining it in formation.
Wide receiver Rome Odunze, who missed the first three games, is a possibility to play against Cal. He was in uniform and came out early with the quarterbacks and wide receivers.
The Seattle late-afternoon weather was warm and sunny, with no chance of lightning.
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