By  on October 15, 2007

Barbecues, drinking games — and, courtesy of American Eagle, a chance to design a custom Tailgate Tee.

Toss in collegians' chance to measure their passing skills in a "4th String Quarterback Challenge" and to appear in online video interviews about their pre-game rituals, and you've got the makings of American Eagle Outfitters Inc.'s new AE Big Game Live football game-day event.

Dipping its brand in the culture of college football and trying to connect with students, American Eagle's eight-game schedule of AE Big Game Live began Saturday in Happy Valley, Pa., with activities in venues ranging from pre-game rallies to tailgating activities before the Penn State-Wisconsin game.

Roughly 108,000 fans fill Penn State's Beaver Stadium and another 10,000 fans are typically on hand before a game there, said Michael Felici, general manager of Penn State Sports Properties, a division of Learfield Sports, a multimedia rights holder for Penn State athletics.

The remaining seven games in the schedule include the Ohio State-Michigan game on Nov. 17 and the USC-UCLA matchup on Dec. 1, according to a statement from American Eagle and Mr. Youth, the agency managing the program. Company executives declined further comment.

Two students at each of the participating schools will be offering limited edition American Eagle items at game-day rallies and will be giving away $25 gift cards to tailgating collegians they spot wearing AE apparel.

The pre-game video interviews with fans each Saturday, conducted by Big Game Live hosts QDeezy (a radio DJ in Philadelphia) and Alyssa (an AE model), will be posted at ae.com the following Friday. The idea is to enable visitors at ae.com to view college football game-day experiences, Kathy Savitt, American Eagle chief marketing officer, said in the statement.

An AE Big Game Live page posted Friday at ae.com declared "There's twice as much action off the field"; highlighted traditions at the eight schools on the Big Game schedule, and offered a way to design fleece, school-color hoodies, with custom-embroidered AE logos and tags personalized with combinations of letters, numbers and words.

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