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:

TeamConferenceDistance
HawaiiMountain West37703
NavyAmerican24334
NevadaMountain West15232
RiceConf USA14000
ConnecticutAmerican12705
WyomingMountain West12008
Miami FLACC11464
New Mexico StSun Belt11216
South FloridaAmerican11124
UNLVMountain West10983
Utah StMountain West10845
Air ForceMountain West10652
Boise StMountain West10646
Notre DameIndependent10606
ArmyIndependent10427
Oregon StPac 1210251
UTEPConf USA10206
WashingtonPac 129960
BYUIndependent9692
West VirginiaBig XII9515
CincinnatiAmerican9260
LibertyIndependent9089
FL AtlanticConf USA8352
ArizonaPac 128283
UT San AntonioConf USA8211
SMUAmerican8206
Texas StSun Belt8167
StanfordPac 128077
Colorado StMountain West7950
North TexasConf USA7883
Boston CollegeACC7816
ColoradoPac 127753
North CarolinaACC7695
UtahPac 127483
Bowling GreenMAC7421
Ga SouthernSun Belt7135
HoustonAmerican7127
TulsaAmerican7065
TexasBig XII7056
Florida StACC7040
MassachusettsIndependent7016
UCLAPac 126983
Arizona StPac 126862
Fresno StMountain West6785
Michigan StBig Ten6775
USCPac 126728
Washington StPac 126724
Florida IntlConf USA6688
DukeACC6671
UABConf USA6522
MTSUConf USA6500
San Jose StMountain West6478
N IllinoisMAC6380
TulaneAmerican6311
Old DominionConf USA6246
RutgersBig Ten6220
Southern MissConf USA6037
PittsburghACC5983
New MexicoMountain West5933
Coastal CarSun Belt5850
UCFAmerican5792
KansasBig XII5721
TempleAmerican5706
LouisvilleACC5705
CaliforniaPac 125638
MissouriSEC5631
E MichiganMAC5626
Texas A&MSEC5599
IndianaBig Ten5322
Arkansas StSun Belt5211
San Diego StMountain West5192
NebraskaBig Ten5180
Texas TechBig XII5119
MemphisAmerican5118
TroySun Belt5091
MinnesotaBig Ten5079
MarshallConf USA5046
OregonPac 124996
ToledoMAC4929
BaylorBig XII4926
WKUConf USA4891
MarylandBig Ten4857
South AlabamaAmerican4835
East CarolinaAmerican4833
SyracuseACC4782
ClemsonACC4768
Kansas StBig XII4747
CharlotteConf USA4732
Louisiana TechConf USA4682
ULMSun Belt4670
IllinoisBig Ten4617
Appalachian StSun Belt4613
Iowa StBig XII4548
Miami OHMAC4535
ArkansasSEC4516
AkronMAC4489
ULLSun Belt4412
KentMAC4384
OklahomaBig XII4247
KentuckySEC4142
LSUSEC4112
BuffaloMAC4078
Georgia TechACC4068
Ohio StBig Ten3925
Georgia StSun Belt3805
GeorgiaSEC3575
TCUBig XII3570
Wake ForestACC3559
FloridaSEC3552
IowaBig Ten3450
Penn StBig Ten3307
AlabamaSEC3245
VanderbiltSEC3170
MississippiSEC3168
South CarolinaSEC3135
NorthwesternBig Ten3081
W MichiganMAC3070
WisconsinBig Ten2821
NC StateACC2819
Mississippi StSEC2750
PurdueBig Ten2659
VirginiaACC2637
Virginia TechACC2593
OhioMAC2519
C MichiganMAC2381
MichiganBig Ten2216
Oklahoma StBig XII2068
AuburnSEC1825
TennesseeSEC1807
Ball StMAC1692