It’s a fact of life in any conference: You’re going to have to travel at some point.
Now, some leagues have teams that don’t travel much at all save for the conference away games. Those teams are big enough that they don’t have to hit the road, or are very selective about the non-conference tilts they do play away from home.
But with this latest round of realignment, some teams are going to have to travel more—a lot more.
This is the case with the American Athletic Conference. The American stretches from Connecticut to Texas, and covers eight states currently. It is spread out almost as far for football as the old Western Athletic Conference was.
Here at Crystal Ball Run, we wanted to see who has to travel the farthest this season? Which school’s fans might be racking up the frequent flier miles to go see their team? So we looked at the schedules for everyone, pulled out their road games and used mapping software to cover the distance from campus to the opponent’s stadium for each road game. Mileage listed is in driving miles from campus to stadium as opposed to the closest airport. The list is presented from shortest aggregate travel distance to longest travel distance.
Without further ado, let’s hit the road.
1) Louisville = 2,609 miles. The Cardinals are helped by the fact that they only hit the road five times, with their only non-conference road game being a trip to Kentucky (77 miles). The longest trips are to South Florida and UConn (876 and 873 miles respectively).
2) Southern Methodist = 2,995 miles. The Mustangs play six road games this year, but three of them are in Texas (Texas A&M = 182 miles; TCU = 42 miles; Houston = 252 miles). SMU does make one trip over 1,000 miles. (South Florida = 1,115 miles).
3) Memphis = 3,195 miles. The trend of playing non-conference games inside your borders continues here. Memphis has one road game on the non-conference schedule, a tilt with Middle Tennessee (232 miles). The Tigers will travel over 1,000 miles for only one game (UConn = 1,204 miles).
4) Cincinnati = 3,346 miles. Six road games on the docket for the Bearcats, but the two non-conference games are close with Illinois (232 miles) and Miami (OH) (39 miles) being relatively easy trips. The longest distance is a trip to Houston (1,059 miles).
5) UConn = 4,345 miles. UConn is the first team listed here to crack the 1,000 miles trip barrier twice, featuring two long hauls to UCF (1,212 miles) and SMU (1,694 miles). That’s part of the problem with being the outpost in a conference that is so spread out. Only traveling five times, though, keeps their ranking low on this list.
6) South Florida = 4,639 miles. The Bulls have several lengthy trips on their itinerary this season. Two 1,200 miles jaunts to East Lansing (1,224 miles) and Hartford, CT (1,238 miles) as well as trips to New Brunswick, NJ (1,095 miles) and Houston (983 miles). At least the road trip from Tampa to Orlando to face UCF is short (99 miles). Maybe they can take in Disney World while they’re there.
7) UCF = 5,046 miles. UCF is located in Orlando, which is kind of the heart of Florida. But you don’t realize just how big Florida is when you look at a map and realize that the game against FIU requires a trip of 238 miles for the Knights—and that is their shortest journey. Two trips to Pennsylvania to face Temple (980 miles) and Penn State (1,054 miles), plus a trip to Dallas to face SMU (1,107 miles) and you can see how quickly the miles add up, especially when you’re playing six road games.
8) Houston = 5,286 miles. It’s a good thing the Cougars are playing three non-conference games in the city of Houston. Otherwise, they would be traveling the most in the American this year. Two trips to the Northeast to face Temple (1,545 miles) and Rutgers (1,607 miles) will make the trips to Louisville (952 miles) and to UCF (981 miles) seem brief by comparison.
9) Temple = 6,391 miles. Temple has a relatively short trip to face Rutgers (65 miles). However, that doesn’t do enough to offset a curious 2, 598 mile trip from Philadelphia to Moscow, Idaho to face the Idaho Vandals. It is curious, indeed, as there is really not much to be gained from such a long distance venture. High risk for not that high a reward, it seems, but we shall see when the season starts. Lengthy trips to SMU (1,472 miles) and Memphis (1,010 miles) factor into the schedule as well.
10) Rutgers = 6, 405 miles. The Scarlet Knights have a 1,000 mile trip to UCF (1,046 miles). They have a 1,500 mile trip to Southern Methodist (1,582 miles). Oh, and they start the season with a nearly 3,000 mile cross-country jaunt to Fresno State (2,896 miles). At least the UConn trip is short (152 miles).