Interesting has a nice, broad definition so I went with that word choice. I tripped down a scheduled rabbit hole the other day and started noticing some interesting patterns, so I thought other people might be as weird as me and want to know about them as well.
I’ve not gone into equal detail about everyone, as not everyone’s schedule is quite as fascinating as the one that sent me down this path, but there’s still some odd patterns out there on the scheduled path.
Utah State only travels three times in the first eight weeks, but those three trips will rack up about 9,100 miles. New Mexico only travels three times in the first seven weeks but will do so to the tune of about 8,100 miles
Remember 2016, when Hawaii had not just three Power 5 road games in their first four weeks but racked up 25,000 miles doing it?
Karma has finally swung the other way, as the Rainbow Warriors will only travel once (to Washington) in the first five weeks and once (to UNLV) in the last five weeks, and will only travel about 25,000 miles for the whole season.
Boise State has a schedule that should keep them in the conversation for a New Year’s Six Bowl berth the whole season. They open the season with a neutral-site game in Jacksonville against Florida State, in a game where they are ever-so-slightly favored.
When they return home the next day, they won’t leave Boise again for another month, and they’ll only have one game in the ensuing 11 weeks where they aren’t at least a two-touchdown favorite.
Northern Illinois and Kent State
These two teams, as usual, are likely to have very different outcomes to their seasons, but they start off with some commonalities. Of the seven G5 teams playing three Power 5 opponents, these are the only two teams who will play all three of those opponents on the road.
Both teams also, as a result of the timing of their two bye weeks, will only play three home games in the first 11 weeks of the season. Obviously, this is less an issue in the MAC than it might be in the AAC or CUSA, but it still matters.
Northern Illinois will open at home against FCS Illinois State. By the time the Huskies play their next home game, they’ll have logged almost 4,800 miles of travel in the interim.
Kent State has it even rougher, as they will open their season with 2,800 miles of travel sandwiched around a home game against FCS stud Kennesaw State. After another home game against Bowling Green, the Flashes will only play at home once in the seven weeks after that.
The Directional Michigans
They each have their own interesting quirk.
Central Michigan ends their season with an interesting scheduling palindrome of sorts as they close out at home, off, on the road, off, and at home.
Eastern Michigan only plays at home once in the first six weeks, and their home game in the final week of the season will be their first game in Ypsilanti in a month.
Western Michigan has the truest of scheduling balance, as they have home games in weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
The Perks of an Ohio-centric MAC
Toledo only leaves the state of Ohio twice between September 1st and November 19th. Ohio only travels farther than 3 1/2 hours all season once, when they play at Buffalo. Miami (OH) only has five home games, but their season opener against Iowa is the only time all season they travel more than 500 miles round-trip.
App State only has four games in their first six weeks, and their only travel is the 160 miles to North Carolina in Week Four. Of note, their three home opponents (Charlotte, East Tennessee and Coastal Carolina) are only traveling a total of 860 miles to get to Boone and back.
Georgia State balances out neatly. Their schedule opens with three out of four on the road and they’ll have traveled 3,800 miles by their week 5 bye. That is followed by a four-game stretch where three are at home, and the only road trip is four hours to Coastal Carolina followed by another bye.
Louisiana opens the season playing Mississippi State at the Superdome, then two more home games. They then have two home games the next nine weeks and only one road game (South Alabama) less than 500 miles away.
- South Alabama has a five-week stretch in the middle of the season where they only play three games, and only once on Saturday.
- Texas State doesn’t leave the state of Texas until the end of October, only plays on the road twice in that stretch, and one is a short jaunt to Dallas.
- Troy only travels twice in the first eight weeks, but those two trips total 3,200 miles.
Boy, is this an interesting one. Every team is getting a second bye week this season simply due to the way the calendar shook out, but Navy is ahead of the curve.
The Midshipmen have four bye weeks. They open the season with a bye in weeks two and four, another in early November, and another before the Army/Navy Game.
O.K. I’m fudging just a touch; that fourth bye only happens if they don’t reach the AAC title game, but still.
This also means that the Mids only play two road games before November, and their trip to Memphis on a Thursday night in late September is their only travel in the first six weeks.
More AAC Teams Getting Lucky
Luke Fickell’s Cincinnati squad is on the list of teams with some travel luck, which is a win for fans who want to see a bunch of games in person. In the season’s first nine weeks, the Bearcats only play three road games, and their October 19th game at Houston is the only one of the three more than 150 miles from home.
East Carolina has an evenly split three home and three road games in the first half of the season, but those road trips are Norfolk, Raleigh and Annapolis which means only 1,000 miles of travel.
Memphis’ week three road trip to South Alabama is their only road game in the first five weeks, but they pay for it later as their season finale at home against Cincinnati on Black Friday will be on short rest and also their first home game in a month.
SMU has an even split of home and road games, but two of the first five road games are in Fort Worth and Houston, which means in the first twelve weeks their only real road trips are to Arkansas State, USF and Memphis.
- Tulane’s game at Auburn is their only travel in the first five weeks
- USF travels the 90 minutes to Orlando to close out the regular season, which is also their only travel after Halloween.
- Old Dominion only travels twice in the first six weeks, and only about 900 miles total at that (Virginia and Virginia Tech). From September 21st to November 29th, FIU only has two road games, and one is 35 miles away at FAU.
- FAU only has three road games in their first eight weeks, but they’ll still log 6,000 miles of travel in that time.
- Marshall only has three road games in their first nine weeks but will log nearly 7,000 miles in that process.
- I know Texas is huge, but UTSA and North Texas only leave the state a total of six times all season.
The Blazers have the definition of a backloaded schedule. They’re projected to rank 106th in S&P+ and they only have four opponents ranked inside the top 100 in those same projections – all of whom appear in the Blazers’ last five games.
Additionally, UAB gets a leg up on all of their non-conference foes. They open the season with a Thursday FCS home game again, followed by playing at Akron after an extra two days off (with Akron on regular rest).
Their other two non-conference games – at home against South Alabama and on the road against Tennessee – are after a bye, while neither South nor UT will have a bye prior to those games.
I’ve saved the best for last. All of the following are true of Rice’s 2019 schedule:
- They are one of seven G5 teams to play three P5 opponents
- All of their P5 opponents are home games
- They open the season with consecutive Friday night games
Yes, I’m counting the Owls’ game against Texas as a home game. It’s at a neutral site, but NRG Stadium (home of the Houston Texans) is only three miles from campus.
In addition to all of this, the double-bye this season means that Rice opens the season by traveling all the way to New York to face Army, then only travels twice in the next 10 weeks – to Birmingham and San Antonio.
Rice is still a poor enough team that so little traveling will only help so much, but Rice fans are one three-hour drive from seeing at least eight of their team’s games in person this season.