NU Set For Road-Like Atmosphere

There is sure to be many purple-clad fans in Houston for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, but Northwestern is playing Texas A&M in Houston—just 90 miles from College Station. NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald is preparing his team for a road-like atmosphere at Reliant Stadium. The Wildcats look to embrace the challenge being the "visitors," just as they did in Nebraska.

Northwestern will be wearing their home purple in Saturday's Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, but it will be far from a home-game feeling. The "visiting" Texas A&M Aggies will be playing just 90 miles from College Station.

Known for their raucous fans, "The 12th Man," Texas A&M should have a bit of a home-field edge, even as the visiting team.

That may not necessarily be a bad thing for Northwestern, which has historically had success on the road under head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Most notably this season, NU upset then-ninth-ranked Nebraska at Memorial Stadium.

"We've always played well on the road," NU quarterback Dan Persa told the media on Tuesday. "We look forward to taking that mindset into this game. I think we'll be okay."

There are expected to be thousands of Northwestern fans—many from Houston—in attendance at Reliant Stadium. NU's ticket allotment should be full, with plenty of purple scattered throughout the stadium.

However, the Wildcats are preparing themselves to be the visiting team, even if they are technically the home team. Northwestern players and coaches embrace the challenge.

"I take it to heart," NU receiver and Houston native Venric Mark told the media. "So does Coach Fitz, so does everybody else. We really want to win this bowl game. It's been years since we've won. Texas A&M is a great opponent. They're also known for their crowd. They've sold a lot of tickets. They're only 90 miles from their campus. It will be a great game."

How exactly does Northwestern prepare for its road games? Part of that comes from a mindset established by the coaching staff, but the rest of it is fairly basic.

"It's all about technique," said Mark. "When you get into an environment like that, that's what you have to rely on. You can't get too high, but you can't get too low. You just have to stay within your game and play your game."

While Northwestern embraces what they believe will be a road atmosphere in Houston, the Aggies are preparing themselves for the challenge of facing a Wildcat team that performs well as the visitors.

"Coach (Fitzgerald) is going to talk about being the road team, but they didn't fare too badly two weeks ago when they went to Lincoln and beat the No. 10 Nebraska Cornhuskers," Texas A&M interim coach Tim DeRuyter said. "our guys are well aware of that."


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