2019 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. What a time to be alive.  With 838 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.

Like always, 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 once again be the most traveled team in 2019, racking up 28,161 miles over the course of next season. That’s a decrease of almost 10,000 miles over their 2018 total of 37,703 miles, thanks in part to not having to play at Army in West Point this season. On the other side of the spectrum, Georgia likely won’t have to step foot in an airplane during their regular season (though they probably still will with that booster money flowing in), traveling a mere 1,671 miles all season.  Let’s take a look at the difference.  First here’s Hawaii’s flight plans:

The 2019 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Football Season Travel Plan
2019 Georgia Bulldogs NCAA Football Travel Schedule

And now, Georgia’s light galavant throughout Georgia and the surrounding area: 

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 nearly 50% farther than the second most-traveled school in the FBS this season. That second team, Army, 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 (mayyybe Hawaii stays between Boise and Reno between weeks 5-6).

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. Above them are 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 less than 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:

ConferenceAverage mileage
Independent12823
Mountain West11153
Pac 128560
American6956
Conf USA6567
Big XII5861
Sun Belt5833
ACC4560
Big Ten4539
MAC3967
SEC3539

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

  • Arizona has the longest travel schedule of any Power Five team, with a trip to Hawaii as their only OOC away game, before a spread-out Pac 12 schedule taking them to Boulder, LA, Palo Alto, Eugene, and Tempe.
  • Minnesota has the longest journey in the Big Ten, which is not too surprising given their rather western status within the conference.  Most of that is attributable to an out of conference matchup against Fresno State in Fresno this year, as well as a conference matchup at Rutgers. Iowa, and Michigan State have virtually no travel this season, totaling under 3,000 miles a piece.
  • The Big XII is no surprise, with somewhat-centrally-located Baylor having the least travel while West Virginia will be up in the air the most, almost 4x as many miles as Baylor.
  • Utah is the only Pac 12 school to fly fewer than 7,100 miles this season, while West Virginia and Oklahoma State are the only other P5 schools to fly more than 7,100 miles on the season.
  • Five of the twelve Mountain West teams will fly more than 10,000 miles on the season. In the rest of FBS, only eight schools will fly more than 10,000 miles on the season, four of them independents.
  • Neither of last year’s National Championship Game teams will travel more than 3,000 miles, with Alabama going 2,690 and defending champions Clemson going 2,911. The semifinalists will both travel more, Oklahoma going 4,483 and Notre Dame 6,890 miles on the season.

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

TeamConferenceMileage
GeorgiaSEC1704
MississippiSEC1801
North CarolinaACC2032
OhioMAC2196
W MichiganMAC2277
IowaBig Ten2307
DukeACC2315
Miami OHMAC2367
KentuckySEC2411
Ball StMAC2524
Michigan StBig Ten2526
AlabamaSEC2690
TennesseeSEC2723
ClemsonACC2911
PittsburghACC2960
VanderbiltSEC3021
MichiganBig Ten3181
BuffaloMAC3189
BaylorBig XII3248
LSUSEC3311
Mississippi StSEC3316
IllinoisBig Ten3584
E MichiganMAC3593
Ohio StBig Ten3707
NC StateACC3859
Kansas StBig XII3933
IndianaBig Ten3937
South CarolinaSEC4095
AkronMAC4114
VirginiaACC4168
Appalachian StSun Belt4273
ArkansasSEC4318
Georgia TechACC4454
OklahomaBig XII4483
ToledoMAC4509
Southern MissConf USA4547
Virginia TechACC4592
Penn StBig Ten4637
Colorado StMountain West4695
South AlabamaAmerican4708
WisconsinBig Ten4745
MissouriSEC4772
Wake ForestACC4778
LouisvilleACC4822
Bowling GreenMAC4828
FloridaSEC4887
UtahPac 125018
TCUBig XII5038
Georgia StSun Belt5046
WKUConf USA5125
MarylandBig Ten5135
UABConf USA5182
C MichiganMAC5185
East CarolinaAmerican5233
Texas A&MSEC5246
AuburnSEC5256
TexasBig XII5338
MTSUConf USA5461
ULMSun Belt5482
NorthwesternBig Ten5491
Old DominionConf USA5501
CincinnatiAmerican5531
KansasBig XII5578
PurdueBig Ten5625
NebraskaBig Ten5628
UT San AntonioConf USA5729
MemphisAmerican5767
Louisiana TechConf USA5827
TroySun Belt5849
LouisianaSun Belt5890
CharlotteConf USA5892
Iowa StBig XII5940
Arkansas StSun Belt5958
RutgersBig Ten6006
South FloridaAmerican6098
Ga SouthernSun Belt6134
Miami FLACC6270
NevadaMountain West6318
KentMAC6392
N IllinoisMAC6433
SMUAmerican6444
Florida IntlConf USA6449
Texas TechBig XII6516
TempleAmerican6631
Boston CollegeACC6745
North TexasConf USA6810
SyracuseACC6833
Texas StSun Belt6858
Notre DameIndependent6890
WyomingMountain West6933
Coastal CarSun Belt7005
MinnesotaBig Ten7030
RiceConf USA7097
Florida StACC7099
ColoradoPac 127118
Oklahoma StBig XII7398
HoustonAmerican7553
WashingtonPac 127627
CaliforniaPac 127812
ConnecticutAmerican7888
OregonPac 128022
NavyAmerican8031
MassachusettsIndependent8124
MarshallConf USA8194
Arizona StPac 128230
UCLAPac 128269
UCFAmerican8372
Boise StMountain West8586
Washington StPac 128754
TulaneAmerican8866
TulsaAmerican9309
UTEPConf USA9350
Fresno StMountain West9598
StanfordPac 129687
San Diego StMountain West9716
USCPac 129832
UNLVMountain West9920
LibertyIndependent10147
Oregon StPac 1210458
Utah StMountain West10671
FL AtlanticConf USA10778
West VirginiaBig XII11133
New MexicoMountain West11196
ArizonaPac 1211894
Air ForceMountain West12035
BYUIndependent15249
New Mexico StIndependent15950
San Jose StMountain West16007
ArmyIndependent20579
HawaiiMountain West28161