TUCSON, Ariz. — Mike Gundy says playing a road game, which his Cowboys will do in the desert Saturday night against Arizona, always is dicey. “It's not the same as being at home,” Gundy said.
He's right. His Cowboys, at least of recent vintage, are more successful on the road than at home, at least percentage wise. In two seasons as the OSU quarterback, Brandon Weeden was 10-1 in road games. He was 11-2 at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Now the Wes Lunt era arrives, and keeping that road magic going will be more difficult, considering Weeden was 28 years old when he won at Lubbock last November. Lunt is 18.
“Most young players are very familiar at home,” Gundy said, though that might not be true of Lunt, since that 84-0 Savannah State debacle is Lunt's only Stillwater experience. “Whether you're a freshman quarterback or a guy that's been at this level for a few years, it's very different being on the road.”
Gundy should know. Weeden's predecessor, Zac Robinson, went 8-6 in road games. Before Robinson, under Gundy and Les Miles, the Cowboys were 12-20 in road games. And Gundy himself was 10-7 on the road quarterbacking the Cowboys from 1986-89.
Gundy's first road start as a Cowboy? At Lincoln, where Nebraska beat the '86 Cowboys 30-10. A week later, OSU went to Norman, where the Sooners administered a 19-0 shutout.
Earlier this week, Gundy couldn't even remember his first road game and didn't seem to think it would matter if he could. “The game's changed so much,” Gundy said.
Has it? Haven't coaches always wanted to make it easy on young quarterbacks on the road? Gundy said the plan for Lunt will be simple: “Distribute the ball to guys on offense so they can make plays. Not try to do too much.”
Weeden could do plenty, in Stillwater or away from Stillwater, and few teams excelled on the road like his Cowboys. OSU is tied with Stanford for the nation's third-best road record since the start of the 2010 season. And the Cowboys have won in some tough places: Austin twice, Lubbock twice, Columbia, Manhattan and College Station.
Perhaps only Oregon (which has won at Southern Cal, Stanford and Tennessee, among others); LSU (Alabama, West Virginia and Arkansas); and Stanford (Southern Cal, Notre Dame) have more impressive road victories than does OSU.
Is Tucson a tough place to play? The Wildcats are 8-6 at home the last two seasons, including victories over the Citadel, Northern Arizona, Louisiana-Lafayette and Toledo twice, the latter in overtime last Saturday.
So play anything like the Weeden Cowboys, or even the Robinson or Gundy Cowboys, and OSU should win in the desert.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
OSU ROAD PROWESS
Here is a look at the top five road records in college football since 2010, with the teams they beat:
* Oregon 10-0: Tennessee, Arizona State, Washington State, Southern Cal, California, Oregon State, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Stanford.
* Virginia Tech 10-0: Boston College, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Miami, East Carolina, Marshall, Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia.
* OSU 10-1: Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Texas, Kansas, Tulsa, Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri, Texas Tech. (lost at Iowa State).
* Stanford 10-1: UCLA, Notre Dame, Washington, Arizona State, California, Duke, Arizona, Washington State, Southern Cal, Oregon State. (lost at Oregon).
* TCU 9-1: SMU, Colorado State, Nevada-Las Vegas, Utah, New Mexico, Air Force, San Diego State, Wyoming, Boise State. (lost at Baylor).