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:

Conference
Average mileage
Independent
12823
Mountain West
11153
Pac 12
8560
American
6956
Conf USA
6567
Big XII
5861
Sun Belt
5833
ACC
4560
Big Ten
4539
MAC
3967
SEC
3539

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:

Team
Conference
Mileage
Georgia
SEC
1704
Mississippi
SEC
1801
North Carolina
ACC
2032
Ohio
MAC
2196
W Michigan
MAC
2277
Iowa
Big Ten
2307
Duke
ACC
2315
Miami OH
MAC
2367
Kentucky
SEC
2411
Ball St
MAC
2524
Michigan St
Big Ten
2526
Alabama
SEC
2690
Tennessee
SEC
2723
Clemson
ACC
2911
Pittsburgh
ACC
2960
Vanderbilt
SEC
3021
Michigan
Big Ten
3181
Buffalo
MAC
3189
Baylor
Big XII
3248
LSU
SEC
3311
Mississippi St
SEC
3316
Illinois
Big Ten
3584
E Michigan
MAC
3593
Ohio St
Big Ten
3707
NC State
ACC
3859
Kansas St
Big XII
3933
Indiana
Big Ten
3937
South Carolina
SEC
4095
Akron
MAC
4114
Virginia
ACC
4168
Appalachian St
Sun Belt
4273
Arkansas
SEC
4318
Georgia Tech
ACC
4454
Oklahoma
Big XII
4483
Toledo
MAC
4509
Southern Miss
Conf USA
4547
Virginia Tech
ACC
4592
Penn St
Big Ten
4637
Colorado St
Mountain West
4695
South Alabama
American
4708
Wisconsin
Big Ten
4745
Missouri
SEC
4772
Wake Forest
ACC
4778
Louisville
ACC
4822
Bowling Green
MAC
4828
Florida
SEC
4887
Utah
Pac 12
5018
TCU
Big XII
5038
Georgia St
Sun Belt
5046
WKU
Conf USA
5125
Maryland
Big Ten
5135
UAB
Conf USA
5182
C Michigan
MAC
5185
East Carolina
American
5233
Texas A&M
SEC
5246
Auburn
SEC
5256
Texas
Big XII
5338
MTSU
Conf USA
5461
ULM
Sun Belt
5482
Northwestern
Big Ten
5491
Old Dominion
Conf USA
5501
Cincinnati
American
5531
Kansas
Big XII
5578
Purdue
Big Ten
5625
Nebraska
Big Ten
5628
UT San Antonio
Conf USA
5729
Memphis
American
5767
Louisiana Tech
Conf USA
5827
Troy
Sun Belt
5849
Louisiana
Sun Belt
5890
Charlotte
Conf USA
5892
Iowa St
Big XII
5940
Arkansas St
Sun Belt
5958
Rutgers
Big Ten
6006
South Florida
American
6098
Ga Southern
Sun Belt
6134
Miami FL
ACC
6270
Nevada
Mountain West
6318
Kent
MAC
6392
N Illinois
MAC
6433
SMU
American
6444
Florida Intl
Conf USA
6449
Texas Tech
Big XII
6516
Temple
American
6631
Boston College
ACC
6745
North Texas
Conf USA
6810
Syracuse
ACC
6833
Texas St
Sun Belt
6858
Notre Dame
Independent
6890
Wyoming
Mountain West
6933
Coastal Car
Sun Belt
7005
Minnesota
Big Ten
7030
Rice
Conf USA
7097
Florida St
ACC
7099
Colorado
Pac 12
7118
Oklahoma St
Big XII
7398
Houston
American
7553
Washington
Pac 12
7627
California
Pac 12
7812
Connecticut
American
7888
Oregon
Pac 12
8022
Navy
American
8031
Massachusetts
Independent
8124
Marshall
Conf USA
8194
Arizona St
Pac 12
8230
UCLA
Pac 12
8269
UCF
American
8372
Boise St
Mountain West
8586
Washington St
Pac 12
8754
Tulane
American
8866
Tulsa
American
9309
UTEP
Conf USA
9350
Fresno St
Mountain West
9598
Stanford
Pac 12
9687
San Diego St
Mountain West
9716
USC
Pac 12
9832
UNLV
Mountain West
9920
Liberty
Independent
10147
Oregon St
Pac 12
10458
Utah St
Mountain West
10671
FL Atlantic
Conf USA
10778
West Virginia
Big XII
11133
New Mexico
Mountain West
11196
Arizona
Pac 12
11894
Air Force
Mountain West
12035
BYU
Independent
15249
New Mexico St
Independent
15950
San Jose St
Mountain West
16007
Army
Independent
20579
Hawaii
Mountain West
28161