We begin our second day of examining how many miles teams have traveled for nonconference games with a look at four Bowl Championship Series conferences. This is all part of an extensive study taken on by Richard of Map Game Day, who has agreed to share his results with us.
After releasing the initial results on Thursday, an anonymous poster suggested that we rerun the data to reflect conference alignments from 1998-2005. Richard thought this was a terrific idea and has been busy recalculating the data, which was based on current conference alignments. Without getting technical (read the end of this post for more), we're going to post the updated data on Saturday. Those numbers, along with breakdowns of the Atlantic Coast and Big East conferences, will be posted then. On Sunday, the non-BCS conferences will be posted and reviewed.
Let's jump into the four BCS conferences we have posted today. At the top is the Big Ten, which is led by Northwestern, having traveled nearly 20,000 miles in the past 10 years to nonconference games. At the bottom is Penn State, which is No. 10 overall in ranking of teams having traveled the fewest miles. Ohio State's nonleague schedule this season was a joke: Youngstown State, Akron, at Washington and Kent State. Come on Buckeyes, you can do better. Ohio State does start a home-and-home with USC in 2008.
Let's take a look at the Big 12. It's a tightly packed group, but that might be somewhat expected given that this league is located in the heart of the country and going east or west doesn't involve the mileage that would be involved in other leagues. Kansas is at the bottom and the Jayhawks got fat this season on a diet of Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International, all at home. In fact, Kansas didn't have to leave the state for a game until Oct. 20 and now has a ticket to the Orange Bowl. This is a prime example of what creative scheduling can do for a program and something we'd like to see come to an end.
Love them or hate them, USC will travel to play quality opponents. Look at that mileage. Although this season included road games at lousy Nebraska and Notre Dame, the Trojans scheduled those games believing the quality of the opposition would be better. In 2008, USC opens at Virginia and plays host to Ohio State and Notre Dame. Give USC a big thumbs up for seeking out quality nonleague opponents. Even Arizona State, which ranks at the bottom, has a 2008 home game against Georgia. Overall, the Pac-10 is the best of the BCS leagues when it comes to scheduling quality nonconference opponents home and away. Teams only get three nonconference games because of a round-robin league schedule.
Bring it on, SEC. We don't care how difficult the league schedule is. Your nonconference schedules are a joke. Two notable road tests in the past three years: In 2005, Arkansas played at USC and lost, 70-17. In 2007, Tennessee played at California and lost, 45-31. Seven of the top eight spots nationally for teams having traveled the fewest miles belong to teams from the SEC. Georgia does appear to see the error of its ways. The Bulldogs have games at Arizona State in 2008, at Oklahoma State in 2009 and at Colorado in 2010. Maybe there is hope.