Three crucial road games Texas Tech football must win to contend for Big 12 in 2024

If the Texas Tech football team can win these three toss-up road games in 2024, it could contend for a Big 12 title.
Iowa State football team warms up as a logo of Jack Trice era displays middle of the field to celebrate Jack Trice Legacy Game in the Iowa State and TCU at the Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Ames, Iowa.
Iowa State football team warms up as a logo of Jack Trice era displays middle of the field to celebrate Jack Trice Legacy Game in the Iowa State and TCU at the Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. / Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA

There is no denying that Joey McGuire's biggest struggle as Texas Tech head coach has been winning on the road. That's why he's headed to Detroit this week to meet with Dan Campbell, head coach of the NFL's Lions.

"I want to go personally," McGuire said in an article by Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, "because I want to sit down with Dan Campbell and say, 'Here's my issue: I've played like hell on the road, and it's killing me. Give me some things that you think would be good.' "

In his debut season with Tech, 2022, McGuire's program was just 1-5 on the road. That included four losses at ranked opponents.

Last year, Tech actually beat one of the two ranked teams it played away from Lubbock, No. 16 Kansas. However, dropping games at Wyoming, West Virginia, BYU, and No. 7 Texas the Red Raiders were just 2-4 away from home to bring McGuire's overall record to just 3-8 on the road.

This season, Tech opens with five of its first seven games at home. What's more, the team has just five road contests all year.

However, three of the final five games this year will take place on an opponent's campus. Thus, the path to a Big 12 title will require the Red Raiders to figure out their biggest flaw under McGuire. So let's take a look at three toss-up road games that Tech must win this year to get to the Big 12 title game.

Texas Tech @ TCU

By October 26, Tech will have played only two road games: at Washington State and Arizona. But that changes when the team opens back-to-back road trips with a visit to Fort Worth to face TCU.

That's a place Tech has struggled in recent years. Tech has dropped its last two games at Amon G. Carter Stadium. What's more, it has lost five of the last seven games it has played in Fort Worth dating all the way back to 1995.

TCU will be a wild card in 2024. After a disappointing 2023 that saw the Horned Frogs go just 5-7 one year after playing for the National Championship, Sonny Dykes and Co. will be motivated to rebound this fall.

TCU returns its starting QB, Josh Hoover, and most of his offensive playmakers. On defense, they will bring in former Oregon D.C. and Boise State head coach Andy Avalos to try to make that side of the ball what it once was under the previous regime.

Tech and TCU are rivals and that usually makes each game they play unpredictable. That will probably be the case this season but this is a game Tech should circle as an opportunity to prove that it has figured out how to win important road games in Big 12 play.

Texas Tech @ Iowa State

A week after playing at TCU, the Red Raiders head north to face Iowa State. That will be the second-straight toss-up road tilt for McGuire and his squad.

Jack Trice Stadium has been another house of horrors for Tech as of late. Prior to 2022's win there (McGuire's only road win in his debut season), Tech had dropped its last three games in Ames.

This year, Iowa State could be a sneaky Big 12 title contender. The Cyclones will be absolutely loaded on offense with potential stars QB Rocco Becht, running back Abu Sama III, and receiver Jayden Higgins leading the way.

Last year, ISU went 7-6 to increase its win total from 2022 by three games. What's more, five of their six losses were by 10 points or less. If those close games go the other way, the Cyclones could surprise and crash the conference championship game party. That's why ISU might be a team Tech has to beat in Ames if Tech wants to be the conference's surprising title game participant.

Texas Tech @ Oklahoma State

Speaking of places the Red Raiders have struggled over the past decade or more, Stillwater, Oklahoma could top that list. Since 2003, the only time that Tech has won at Boone Pickens Stadium was in 2018, the final year of the Kliff Kingsbury experience as head coach.

This year's meeting with OSU will be interesting for many reasons. Top of them all is the fact that the Cowboys will be quarterbacked by seventh-year senior and former Red Raider starter Alan Bowman.

Bowman is sort of a bus driver but he has quite the supporting cast to make him look good. Ollie Gordon II is the best running back in the country and he returns his top two wide receivers from last year, two of the most productive pass catchers in the country last fall.

OSU is coming off of a 10-win season and a Big 12 title game appearance. Can they take the next step this year with OU and Texas out of the way? Perhaps. What we do know is that a win in Stillwater in the season's final road game would be huge for Texas Tech if it wants to finally climb that Big 12 hill for itself.