2018 NCAA Football Travel: How Far Every FBS Team Will Go This Year

Every fall, the college football season fires up and gives fans an opportunity to eschew responsibility in favor of sitting on the couch every Saturday for 15 weeks. Beautiful.  With 844 games on the docket for the regular season, plus conference championships and bowls, all of our couch time comes at the expense of plenty of travel for all 130 FBS teams this season.

 

This season, I took a look at every team’s away and neutral site schedule and determined how much travel is necessary for each team. The list uses a handful of assumptions that I’ll hit on below, but the top team should be no surprise.

 

The Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii will be the most traveled team in 2018, racking up 37,703 miles, all in the air of course, over the course of the season.  That’s enough to circle the globe one and a half times. On the other side of the spectrum, Ball State likely won’t step foot in an airplane during their regular season, traveling a mere 1,692 miles all season.  Let’s take a look at the difference.  First here’s Hawaii’s flight plans, including starting the season in Fort Collins against Colorado State:

2018 NCAA Football travel Hawaii

And now, Ball State’s short trips through the Midwest (which will largely be via bus rather than flying): 2018 NCAA Football travel Ball State

 

 

 

It’s clear to see the differences between the two, and the associated travel nightmare that the Rainbow Warriors tend to have to deal with annually. In fact, Hawaii will fly more than 50% farther than the second most-traveled school in the FBS this season. That second team, Navy, spends most of their travel on an away game at, you guessed it, Hawaii itself.  Before we continue on with more facts, let’s take a look at my assumptions.

 

Assumptions:

  • “Power Five” conference teams will fly for anything longer than around 300 miles or five hours drive.
  • Non-P5 teams will fly for anything longer than around 500 miles or eight hours drive.
  • Driving mileage is via Google Maps’ quickest route.
  • Flying mileage is via GCMap’s direct route between the most suitable airport nearest to campus to the nearest suitable airport for the opposing team.
  • Teams return home after every week, which I’m pretty sure happens as even Hawaii has two weeks between away games this season.

 

With that, there may be a few cases where a team is likely to fly below the limit (e.g. Auburn budgets X plane trips a year and the plane is available), but I think this analysis should get you generally close to what reality will end up being.  Taking a look at the conference breakdown, it’s no surprise that the Mountain West Conference takes the cake, with Hawaii dramatically raising the average distance. Below that is the Independents, who don’t receive the geographic benefits of being in a conference. Then the first Power Five conference with the Pac 12, the largest geographic spread of any major conference. At the bottom of the list, we find the SEC, with the average team traveling almost half as much as their Pac 12 counterparts. This is largely attributable to a compact footprint, even after the recent expansion added geographic outlier Texas A&M.  Here’s the full conference averages:

 

Conference
Average Mileage
Mountain West
11701
Independent
9366
American
8647
Pac 12
7478
Conf USA
7143
Sun Belt
6017
ACC
5543
Big XII
5152
MAC
4292
Big Ten
4251
SEC
3588

 

On the individual team level, beyond the previously mentioned top three and bottom, here are some other interesting notes.

  • Miami (of Florida) has the longest travel schedule of any Power Five team, with a neutral site trip to Dallas to play LSU, a trip to Toledo, and in conference play against Boston College, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech.
  • Michigan State has the longest journey in the Big Ten, which is surprising given their rather centrally-located status within the conference.  Most of that is attributable to an out of conference matchup against Arizona State in Tempe this year. Michigan, Purdue, and Wisconsin have virtually no travel this season, totaling under 3,000 miles a piece.
  • The Big XII is no surprise, with centrally-located Oklahoma State having the least travel while West Virginia will be up in the air the most.
  • Oregon is the only Pac 12 school to fly fewer than 5,000 miles this season (by only four miles), while Texas A&M and Missouri are the only SEC schools to fly more than 5,000 miles on the season.
  • Seven of the twelve Mountain West teams will fly more than 10,000 miles on the season. In the rest of FBS, only ten schools will fly more than 10,000 miles on the season.
  • None of last year’s four playoff teams will fly more than 5,000 miles on the season. Alabama has the shortest road at 3,245 miles while Clemson will travel 4,768.

 

Okay, so enough random facts, here’s the whole list so you can see where your team falls:

Team
Conference
Distance
Hawaii
Mountain West
37703
Navy
American
24334
Nevada
Mountain West
15232
Rice
Conf USA
14000
Connecticut
American
12705
Wyoming
Mountain West
12008
Miami FL
ACC
11464
New Mexico St
Sun Belt
11216
South Florida
American
11124
UNLV
Mountain West
10983
Utah St
Mountain West
10845
Air Force
Mountain West
10652
Boise St
Mountain West
10646
Notre Dame
Independent
10606
Army
Independent
10427
Oregon St
Pac 12
10251
UTEP
Conf USA
10206
Washington
Pac 12
9960
BYU
Independent
9692
West Virginia
Big XII
9515
Cincinnati
American
9260
Liberty
Independent
9089
FL Atlantic
Conf USA
8352
Arizona
Pac 12
8283
UT San Antonio
Conf USA
8211
SMU
American
8206
Texas St
Sun Belt
8167
Stanford
Pac 12
8077
Colorado St
Mountain West
7950
North Texas
Conf USA
7883
Boston College
ACC
7816
Colorado
Pac 12
7753
North Carolina
ACC
7695
Utah
Pac 12
7483
Bowling Green
MAC
7421
Ga Southern
Sun Belt
7135
Houston
American
7127
Tulsa
American
7065
Texas
Big XII
7056
Florida St
ACC
7040
Massachusetts
Independent
7016
UCLA
Pac 12
6983
Arizona St
Pac 12
6862
Fresno St
Mountain West
6785
Michigan St
Big Ten
6775
USC
Pac 12
6728
Washington St
Pac 12
6724
Florida Intl
Conf USA
6688
Duke
ACC
6671
UAB
Conf USA
6522
MTSU
Conf USA
6500
San Jose St
Mountain West
6478
N Illinois
MAC
6380
Tulane
American
6311
Old Dominion
Conf USA
6246
Rutgers
Big Ten
6220
Southern Miss
Conf USA
6037
Pittsburgh
ACC
5983
New Mexico
Mountain West
5933
Coastal Car
Sun Belt
5850
UCF
American
5792
Kansas
Big XII
5721
Temple
American
5706
Louisville
ACC
5705
California
Pac 12
5638
Missouri
SEC
5631
E Michigan
MAC
5626
Texas A&M
SEC
5599
Indiana
Big Ten
5322
Arkansas St
Sun Belt
5211
San Diego St
Mountain West
5192
Nebraska
Big Ten
5180
Texas Tech
Big XII
5119
Memphis
American
5118
Troy
Sun Belt
5091
Minnesota
Big Ten
5079
Marshall
Conf USA
5046
Oregon
Pac 12
4996
Toledo
MAC
4929
Baylor
Big XII
4926
WKU
Conf USA
4891
Maryland
Big Ten
4857
South Alabama
American
4835
East Carolina
American
4833
Syracuse
ACC
4782
Clemson
ACC
4768
Kansas St
Big XII
4747
Charlotte
Conf USA
4732
Louisiana Tech
Conf USA
4682
ULM
Sun Belt
4670
Illinois
Big Ten
4617
Appalachian St
Sun Belt
4613
Iowa St
Big XII
4548
Miami OH
MAC
4535
Arkansas
SEC
4516
Akron
MAC
4489
ULL
Sun Belt
4412
Kent
MAC
4384
Oklahoma
Big XII
4247
Kentucky
SEC
4142
LSU
SEC
4112
Buffalo
MAC
4078
Georgia Tech
ACC
4068
Ohio St
Big Ten
3925
Georgia St
Sun Belt
3805
Georgia
SEC
3575
TCU
Big XII
3570
Wake Forest
ACC
3559
Florida
SEC
3552
Iowa
Big Ten
3450
Penn St
Big Ten
3307
Alabama
SEC
3245
Vanderbilt
SEC
3170
Mississippi
SEC
3168
South Carolina
SEC
3135
Northwestern
Big Ten
3081
W Michigan
MAC
3070
Wisconsin
Big Ten
2821
NC State
ACC
2819
Mississippi St
SEC
2750
Purdue
Big Ten
2659
Virginia
ACC
2637
Virginia Tech
ACC
2593
Ohio
MAC
2519
C Michigan
MAC
2381
Michigan
Big Ten
2216
Oklahoma St
Big XII
2068
Auburn
SEC
1825
Tennessee
SEC
1807
Ball St
MAC
1692