HOUSTON, Texas - College Station is only 100 miles from downtown Houston, making it a home away from home. Texas A&M won't be looking at it that way when they step foot into NRG Stadium.
Known as a watering hole for former Aggies, Houston will be doused in the maroon and white color scheme heading into Friday's Texas Bowl. Despite having the home-field advantage and a touchdown-lead against the spread, the Aggies are staying in "work mode," treating Friday like any other game.
The only thing on their minds is a victory when the whistle blows late into the evening.
"There's a lot of people that are coming to cheer for us around Houston who grew up watching A&M," Senior offensive lineman Colton Prater said. "We've had people all week say that they're so glad that we are here and we wanted you guys to play here."
The Aggies (7-5, 4-4 SEC), stumbled their way to close out their 2019 campaign. A close loss to Georgia and beatdown in the Bayou led A&M remaining close to campus for the holidays.
For Oklahoma State (8-4, 5-4 Big 12), some could say they were robbed of a grander outing. Winning four of their last five matchups behind the legs of Chuba Hubbard, the team closed their season with a top 25 ranking in the 15th season under Mike Gundy.
Gundy was pleased the hospitality the city has shown his staff, despite being viewed as the enemy in the local area.
"We've been to a lot of bowl games and had a lot of experiences and this one has been the same," Gundy told media members Wednesday. "We're very proud of our team and the way they've handled themselves."
Several players will be returning home from the A&M roster. Both captains Braden Mann and Jhamon Aubson hail from the local area and grew up watching the Texans take the field off Kirby Drive weekly.
The game is expected to be sold out by kickoff. According to the A&M athletic department, the Aggies' side will be well-represented in a standing room only crowd. Depending on the opposing team, it could like a typical Saturday in Kyle Field.
A&M players won't think that way. Anything can happen and losses at home have occurred this season. Taking it each game at a time, the team will need to conquer the field early to feel at home.
"Any turf we step on, any field we step on, that's home field for us," safety Keldrick Carper said. "We want to make it as comfortable for us as possible and we're going to go out there and execute."
Carper believes the fan base will travel well, giving A&M a welcome feel. From there, it'll be how the team executes early to decide if they pick up the victory for the final time this season.
"We want to put on a good show for everyone and make sure they all have fun," Prater said.
The Aggies will kickoff at 5:45 p.m. in NRG Stadium. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.