Provo • Reliant Stadium, which seats around 71,000, will only be about half-filled for Saturday's college football game between BYU and Houston (1:30 p.m. MT, ESPNews).
But the Cougars who will be wearing white uniforms with blue trim won't care that the home of the NFL's Houston Texans won't be sold out for the nonconference clash. They're just excited to play a regular-season game in a big-time professional football venue for the first time since playing TCU at Cowboys Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) in Arlington, Texas, in 2011.
The Cougars defeated San Diego State 23-6 in the Poinsettia Bowl last year at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, home of the Chargers.
"I think it is pretty cool to play in one," said BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy. "Big environment, so it is a cool experience."
Houston is playing at several venues around the nation's fourth-largest city while it awaits the completion of a $105 million stadium on campus, including BBVA Compass Stadium, home of Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo. Houston downed Memphis 25-15 at that stadium last week.
The new stadium is being built in the "footprint" of its former home, Robertson Stadium.
"Yeah, for sure," BYU quarterback Taysom Hill said when asked if he's excited to play in an NFL stadium. "We were talking about that today. It will be a fun atmosphere. I am excited to be in an NFL stadium, and get a feel for that."
Defensive back Skye PoVey grew up a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys, so he said playing at the Cowboys' home two years ago was a huge thrill.
"It will be really exciting," PoVey said. "It is one of the benefits of being independent. I mean, we get to play everywhere. We get to play teams like Wisconsin and Houston and play in some really fun places, some really hostile environments. I think we are up for the challenge."
When they have played in Texas in the past, the blue Cougars have been well-supported, with around 20,000 or so BYU fans in attendance at Cowboys Stadium for the TCU game in 2011 and the even more than that for the Oklahoma game in 2009, a 14-13 BYU upset.
Houston is a 4- to 5-hour drive from Dallas and the Metroplex, depending on traffic.
Texans at BYU
BYU has six players on its roster from the state of Texas, including walk-on defensive backs Mitchell and Garrett Juergens, who are from Houston's Langham Creek High School.
Starting left tackle Michael Yeck is from Keller, Texas, which is in the Metroplex. Yeck said about 5-6 friends and family members will make the drive to Houston for the game, which obviously has some extra meaning for him.
"Any time we go to Texas, we want to show them that we can hang with the Texans and we can play football," Yeck said. "We know that is one thing Texans don't take lightly, is their football."
How big is the sport in the Lone Star State? Yeck said his high school fielded seven teams.
Van Noy said his favorite NFL team growing up was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because his favorite player was 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks. Hill said his favorite team was the San Francisco 49ers, because of former BYU great Steve Young. â¦ Houston has outscored its opponents 115-33 in the second half. BYU has outscored its opponents 77-44 in the second half.