Teams That Are Doing the Most and Least Traveling This Bowl Season
You're never going to hear a program complain about making it to a bowl game, especially when it allows for several more weeks of practice. But let's face it, some schools get a serious advantage by playing their season finale close to home, while others are traveling far enough away to call their trips "extended vacations."
In any case, visiting new places and interacting with fans from a different part of the country can be fun and beneficial to programs attempting to grow their brand.
This bowl season, we'll see a pair of teams traveling far across the ocean, several others making cross-country trips and finally, a national championship game featuring two schools playing farther away from home than at any point during the regular season.
Of course, there are also some teams who may choose to walk down the street to their respective bowl games.
Let's take a look at the five teams traveling the farthest during bowl season as well as the five that are staying closest to home.
Buffalo: 1,838 miles
After going 8-4 in 2013, including a 6-2 record in the Mid-American Conference, the Buffalo Bulls were rewarded with a berth in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Which, go figure, is in Idaho.
The game is being played at Bronco Stadium, home to Boise State, which is 1,838 miles away from the Bulls' home campus.
The team, led by outstanding linebacker Khalil Mack, should be somewhat comfortable playing on a turf that matches one of its main colors. But the distance traveled just to play in a bowl game that few around the country will care about is pretty far.
Still, for a team that played tough at Ohio State to open the season, a win over San Diego State would be the perfect way to close out the year.
It's either going to be an extended joyride or a long and lonely trip on the flight back to New York.
Bowling Green: 67 miles
As a reward for winning the MAC title, the Bowling Green Falcons get a bowl game right in their own backyard, just 67 miles from home base.
Not only will there be a strong contingent of Falcons fans, but they'll be very familiar with the route to the stadium as well—Ford Field also hosted the MAC championship.
Whether the close proximity to the stadium is actually a reward for the Falcons' win over Northern Illinois, we don't know for sure, but we do know that the Huskies' consolation prize is a trip all the way out to California.
In the Little Caesars Bowl, Bowling Green takes on a well-known opponent in the Pittsburgh Panthers, so the home-field advantage only adds to what should be an exciting matchup.
Auburn: 1,883 miles
For Auburn's bowl game, it will be traveling 1,883 miles west, although you'll have difficulty finding a single complaint about the distance.
That's because the Tigers are playing in the BCS National Championship Game, and a chance to win it all is far more important than a longer plane ride to California.
It might be a little more difficult for fans to make travel arrangements, but after the team bounced back from a three-win season in 2012, here's a guess that the Tiger faithful will find a way.
There's also the added bonus of the game being played at the Rose Bowl, one of the most scenic and historic venues in college football.
With mighty Florida State also booking a ticket to Pasadena, the distance from home base is the very least of Gus Malzahn's worries.
Rutgers: 39 miles
Despite losing five of its final seven games, Rutgers still has a chance to make the 2013 season a memorable one.
By playing in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, the Scarlet Knights have to travel just 39 miles away from campus. Not only will there be a ton of fans making the trip, but the game is also against Notre Dame.
Even though the Fighting Irish aren't world-beaters at the moment, a win over Brian Kelly's team would be a significant step forward for Rutgers football.
With the way Notre Dame fans travel, the Bronx may still be flooded with green and gold. But expect quite a bit of scarlet there as well.
Florida State: 1,989 miles
With a travel itinerary that begins with a flight 1,989 miles across the country, Florida State makes its way on to the list of teams traveling the farthest away from home during bowl season.
Like Auburn, however, you're not going to find a single Seminole complaining about the distance, because the prize of capturing a national title is much more important.
After such an outstanding season, there will be plenty of fans shelling out the big bucks to travel out west, where their team will have a chance to close out one of the greatest years in recent memory. After all, only Boston College came within 14 points of Florida State in 2013.
So while a nearly 2,000-mile trip might elicit groans and complaints from a 6-6 team playing before Christmas Day, the shouts and cheers from Florida State and its fans will be filled with joy from Tallahassee all the way to the Rose Bowl.
North Texas: 37 miles
North Texas will be taking on UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, located just 37 miles from the Mean Green's campus.
So let's get the obvious question out of the way: Will they be riding bikes to the game, flying a fleet of private helicopters or maybe participating in a team jog over the course of a couple of days?
However North Texas plans to travel to its bowl game, it's sure to arrive alongside a host of fans sporting Mean Green gear.
A victory will give the team nine wins on the season and ensure that one of the primary goals for next year will be making it to a bigger, better bowl. Perhaps even one farther than 37 miles from home.
Oregon State: 2,538 miles
The Oregon State Beavers won't be playing for a national title, but it's hard to imagine them being upset about a trip to Hawaii in the middle of December.
Mike Riley's squad went 6-6 and earned a berth in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl—2,538 miles away from Corvallis.
Their opponent is Boise State, who recently saw longtime head coach Chris Petersen bolt for the job at Washington. But more on the Broncos in a moment.
The Beavers started the season 6-1 before five straight losses made for a disappointing finish. In the Civil War, quarterback Sean Mannion and co. came within one point of upsetting Oregon.
Now, they'll get a chance to close things out on a positive note, and they'll do so underneath the shade of palm trees in sunny Honolulu.
Maryland: 30 miles
The Military Bowl pits Maryland against Marshall, two teams hoping to end the year with a win after roller-coaster seasons.
But the Terrapins hold a distinct advantage in that they'll be playing just 30 miles away from home.
After starting the season 4-0, the Terps were given a brutal dose of reality in a 63-0 loss to Florida State. The team never fully recovered and went on to lose four out of its final six games, including double-digit defeats at Wake Forest and Syracuse.
In a comfortable setting surrounded by what should be a healthy number of Terrapin fans, Maryland has a distinct advantage heading into this one.
Boise State: 2,835 miles
It hasn't been a great few weeks for Boise State since the regular season ended, as the Broncos lost head coach Chris Petersen to Washington and were subsequently slotted for the Hawaii Bowl—2,835 miles away from home.
So as the team enters unfamiliar territory in more ways than one, it'll be attempting to knock off Oregon State and kick off the Bryan Harsin era on a positive note.
But while phrases like "business trip" are going to be uttered all throughout bowl season, expect the Broncos to enjoy their time in the Pacific. After all, it's not every year you get to leave cold, snowy Boise in the middle of December and head to a summer environment filled with sandy beaches and warm ocean water.
If Step 1 to a successful bowl game is having fun, however, the all-important Step 2 will be knocking off another team from the Pac-12 and moving the program forward.
Tulane: 3 miles
The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl features a pair of teams that won't have to travel very far to make it to the game.
But if Louisiana-Lafayette goes on a bus ride to get to the Superdome, Tulane could probably buy toy tricycles for every player on the team, leave 30 minutes before game time and arrive with time to spare.
That's because the Green Wave are traveling just under three miles to meet up with the Ragin' Cajuns.
It's easily the least amount of distance any team has to travel during bowl season, even with a number of other squads staying in their home states.
With travel costs equivalent to a couple of morning doughnuts, expect plenty of Tulane fans to make the trip to the stadium to watch their team attempt to win its eighth game of the season.