It was only 9 a.m., but Boston College's Stokes Lawn had already turned into the party of the year.

An endless sea of students and fans had gathered to witness ESPN's College GameDay, the network's Saturday morning college football show, broadcast live from BC's campus ahead of the the prime time matchup between the Eagles and the Clemson Tigers.

If you've never watched it, it's hard to describe the importance of GameDay to the world of college football. It's been broadcasting live on location of campuses across the country since 1993 and its impact has exponentially grown over the years. Hosts like Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso, who go through the day's games and give predictions, might as well be the Beatles to the shows fans.

Music blares over loudspeakers. Chants ring out endlessly. Everyone has an opinion. It's like a political party's national convention during an election year, but it happens every Saturday during the football season.

The set itself is a sports fever dream. The crowd is littered with homemade signs spectators bring in to do everything from poking fun at the opposition to making special announcements.

Although it was a gloomy and soggy morning with a persistent drizzle that didn't let up until the show was already off air, students were lined up at the crack of dawn to take part in the tradition.

BC students Stephen Chiaramonte and Joe McCartney hold their signs on the set of College GameDay.
Esteban Bustillos WGBH News

BC students Stephen Chiaramonte and Joe McCartney woke up around 5:45 a.m. to get ready. Their signs were based on the popular"Let's get this bread" meme, but with a twist fitting for the Jesuit school: BC Head Coach Steve Addazio as a priest passing out a communion wafer.

They ordered materials this week and McCartney designed the signs they paraded around the crowd. For them, it was an opportunity to showcase their school. Chiaramonte said it was one of the biggest days the school has had in his four years attending.

"Everyone knows BC as a good academic school. But to have the opportunity to show that we're more than that, we have the atmosphere that people will get up, 5 a.m., they'll make it happen in the rain, in the cold and that's just what makes it so important," he said. "It's to show the nation that BC is more and they have good athletics, good academics and just a full overall school."

GameDay broadcasts each week from a game with either national interest or a compelling storyline, which may explain why it hadn't been to Chestnut Hill since 2009. The team had a 3-9 season in 2015 and two back-to-back 7-6 years in 2016 and 2017, but this year may be special for the 17th ranked Eagles. They're already 7-2 this year.

"It's just an electric atmosphere, you know?" McCartney said. "Everyone's coming out. There was a line out to the 'Million Dollar Stairs' at 5 a.m. this morning. It just shows that everyone's really excited to be out here."

But not everyone on the set was rooting for the Eagles. There were pockets of purple and orange-clad Tigers fans tucked inside the mass of BC faithful who traveled from all over for the game.

Jim (left) and Evan Davis traveled from Saratoga Springs, New York to be at the GameDay set.
Esteban Bustillos WGBH News

Jim and Evan Davis came decked out in Tigers gear. Jim wore a costume tiger head, while Evan wore a replica helmet complete with a Nike visor.

Even though he's originally from New York and now lives in Saratoga Springs, which is about a three-hour drive from Boston, Jim went to Clemson. He called the chance to visit College GameDay "an opportunity of a lifetime."

"They don't go many places," he said. "You've got once a week to go somewhere and, as you know, they haven't been here in many, many years."

The duo were confident Clemson would win.

In a town usually dominated by another football team down the road, it can be hard to clear up space in the headlines. But for a few hours at least, the eyes of the nation were on Boston College football.