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AUSTIN (AP) – Texas has been a bad road team this season.
Really bad, as in three losses and 10 total points scored in three true road games.
Texas did beat No. 12 Oklahoma, but that came on a neutral field in Dallas where half the stadium was wearing burnt orange. But that team hasn’t shown up in South Bend, Indiana, Fort Worth or Ames, Iowa.
The next stop for the Longhorns? West Virginia and a trip to Morgantown with Texas needing to win two of the last three games to qualify for a bowl game.
“We haven’t played well on the road,” Texas coach Charlie Strong said Monday in a casual understatement.
Texas’ road woes have been worse than that:
— A 38-3 loss at Notre Dame: With eight first downs and 163 total yards, this season-opening debacle led Strong to bench quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and change play callers three days later.
— A 50-7 loss at TCU: Texas was down 30-0 in the first quarter and didn’t score until the final minutes to avoid a shutout. Quarterback Jerrod Heard tweeted “I’m sorry” after the game and Strong spent a week fending off questions about his future just midway through his second season.
— A 24-0 loss at Iowa State: The second shutout in two seasons. Texas gained just 204 total yards and didn’t cross the Cyclones’ 47-yard line until the final drive.
Some of early struggles could be pinned on a young roster that wasn’t ready for a prime-time national television game at Notre Dame or was simply overmatched by a TCU team that at the time was considered a top national title contender.
“I had eagles in my stomach, not butterflies,” freshman offensive lineman Patrick Vahe said.
But the Iowa State loss came after a two-game win streak that appeared to turn the season around. Back at home, Texasscored 59 last week against winless Kansas.
It was the most points the Longhorns have scored in two seasons under Strong and the most since the third game of the 2012 season. Heard had his best game in a month and threw an 84-yard touchdown pass on his first attempt.
But now it’s back to the road with a tough trip to West Virginia (4-4, 1-4), which will mean a long flight to Pittsburgh, a bus ride to Morgantown and a noon kickoff.
West Virginia is 4-1 at home this season and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 31-26 win over Texas Tech last week.
Strong said he hasn’t overhauled his team’s pregame preparations for road games and doesn’t plan to shake things up this week. A fast start could be the only change they need, he said. Texas is 0-11 the last two seasons when the opponent scores first.
“They’ve been beat up so much about it, they’ve heard so much about it,” Strong said. “They understand how important this game is.”
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