CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. — Sunday afternoon thousands of Mississippi State and University of Iowa fans were gearing up for the Outback Bowl during a pep rally on Clearwater Beach.
The New Year's Day bowl game is much anticipated because it’s the first time the two teams are facing off in more than 119 football seasons.
A roaring crowd and a sea of cowbells filled the air as college football fans welcomed Mississippi State to Tampa Bay for their very first Outback Bowl.
Rebecca Anderson traveled from Mississippi and joined in on the fun at Clearwater Beach Sunday.
“It's our first time coming to the Outback Bowl and it’s gonna be great,” Rebecca exclaimed.
Iowa fan Jody Anderson is no stranger to the Outback Bowl. The 2019 bowl is his fifth, meaning the Iowa native has only missed one bowl game in Tampa Bay.
“It's all about the memories. We’re making memories here as a family and you can’t put a value on that,” Jody explained.
Both families, who share the same last name but root for opposite teams, plan to spend thousands of dollars while they’re here.
“With a family of four, we'll easily spend between 8-9 thousand dollars,” Jody said.
"We already spent $2,500," Rebecca elaborated. Her husband quickly chipped in to correct her. "We're actually at $4,000," he said with a smile.
The bowl game, now in its 33rd year, brings a much-needed boost to businesses.
“Yeah, it’s wild out here today!” Cody Hickman, an employee at Hilton Beach Rentals exclaimed, “It has been crazy. We haven’t been this busy since Spring Break.”
Organizers say the Outback bowl has brought in $1 billion dollars in economic impact to Tampa Bay and more than a million people who have made the trek to the Outback Bowl over the past 33 years are first-time visitors.
“I love to support my bulldogs, I love the great weather and it’s fun to be here,” Rebecca Anderson exclaimed.
The teams kick off at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Jan. 1, 2019 at noon.