For all of the good vibes that the 2022 Texas Tech football team left us with, there was one glaring issue that Joey McGuire’s team struggled with practically all season. Winning on the road.
In fact, Tech came within about six minutes of going winless away from Jones Stadium in the regular season last fall. It wasn’t until Tyler Shough connected on a TD pass to Baylor Cupp with 6:10 to play in Tech’s 14-10 road win over Iowa State that the Red Raiders were able to secure a victory away from home in what was the last road game of the season.
That win proved to be massive because it secured bowl eligibility for Tech in McGuire’s first year while taking all the pressure off of the regular-season finale against Oklahoma a week later in Lubbock. It was also important for the program to secure at least one road win in the first year of the new coaching staff’s tenure to help prevent road woes from being a storyline that carried through the offseason.
Still, the Red Raiders simply were not good in enemy territory a season ago. Of course, there were reasons for those struggles.
First, the road took the Red Raiders to the home of four ranked teams; No. 16 N.C. State, No. 25 Kansas State, No. 7 Oklahoma State, and No. 7 TCU. In fact, the trip to Ames was the only time Tech didn’t face a top-25 team on the road in 2022.
Next, injuries were a problem in road games. It is hard to argue that the gruesome leg injury sustained by linebacker Bryce Ramirez early in the N.C. State game didn’t have an emotional impact on his teammates as they had to see him taken immediately to the hospital after breaking his leg.
Against Oklahoma State, Tech was leading in Stillwater until QB Behren Morton suffered an ankle sprain. Though he did play through the injury, after that play he was far from the type of player that he had shown to be to begin the game when his mobility and ability to make plays outside of the pocket gave the Cowboys fits.
That injury was still a problem three games later when Tech traveled to Fort Worth. In fact, Morton was unable to finish that game due to his gimpy ankle. It was a game Tech led into the 4th quarter but with Morton and fellow QB Donovan Smith out of commission late in that game, Shough had to see emergency duty, his first action since returning from a week-one broken collar bone, and the offense could not keep pace with the high-powered Horned Frogs.
For whatever reason though, Tech was not a good road team a season ago. Each of the four road defeats the Red Raiders suffered came by nine points or more as all of those games slipped away late.
In 2023, the road is going to have to be kinder to McGuire and Co. if this season is going to see Tech take another step toward climbing the ranks of the Big 12 hierarchy. With one more road game on the schedule this year and this being the year that the nine-game conference schedule gives takes Tech on the road for an extra game, winning away from Jones Stadium will be imperative.
So let’s take a look at each of the road tests by ranking them in order of difficulty from the easiest to the toughest. As we begin, it will become obvious that none of the away games this season will be lay-ups.