Conference media days are in the books, fall camp has started and kickoff to the 2019 college football season is just around the corner. If you consider yourself a devout fan of the sport – and are no longer in need of a paying job – you’ve probably had a certain fantasy cross your mind:
What if I could take off three months and travel the country for an entire season, stopping to admire some of college football’s best teams, stadiums and traditions?
To be honest, planning the itinerary could be quite overwhelming – there are so many ducks to put in a row: making sure certain teams play at home when you’re in the area, keeping travel time manageable, hitting town when there’s a good opponent on the schedule.
Fortunately for those of us who could even attempt such a trip, Sporting News has you covered with a guide to the ultimate college football road trip for 2019.
Miami vs. Florida
When: Thursday, Aug. 22
Where: Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Fla.)
Rundown: The college football gods finally answered the prayers for August football in 2019, providing an appetizer before a full slate of games the following week. The Hurricanes and Gators look to start their season on a high in Orlando, where we kick off our three-month-long trek. Since there isn’t much travel involved for the upcoming week, feel free to check out Disney World’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge before you set forth on your own journey to stadiums far, far away.
Travel 17 miles to:
Florida A&M at UCF
When: Thursday, Aug. 29
Where: Spectrum Stadium (Orlando, Fla.)
Travel 104 miles to:
Wisconsin at South Florida
When: Friday, Aug. 30
Where: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
Travel 202 miles to:
Boise State vs. Florida State
When: Saturday, Aug 31
Where: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Rundown: Week 1 is without a doubt the busiest of the 2019 season. While there are arguably bigger games in Week 1, the energy out of the gate will still be high in the state of Florida. Why not capitalize on the close proximity and knock out a handful of Sunshine State games in the opening week? Florida A&M and UCF won’t be the most competitive, but Wisconsin-USF and Boise State-Florida State will be two games worth watching.
Travel 463 miles to:
New Mexico State at Alabama
When: Saturday, Sept. 7
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Rundown: The first long drive of the season. No, the Aggies won’t be the most competitive opponent for Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide team, but respect must be paid to the college football juggernaut that is Alabama. Don’t be disappointed if the game is a blowout. Instead, try to enjoy the spectacle of one of the best teams in the country at full speed (for a half). Alabama will be back on this road trip anyway, with a much more worthy foe.
Travel 85 miles to:
Kansas State at Mississippi State
When: Saturday, Sept. 14
Where: Davis Wade Stadium (Starkville, Miss.)
Travel 97 miles to:
Southeastern Louisiana at Ole Miss
When: Sat., Sept 14
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (Oxford, Miss.)
Rundown: This is some high stakes travel: two games, one day. The Mississippi State game kicks off at noon, so if you hit the road at halftime (assuming it’s not a close game), you should have plenty of time to ring some cowbells before making about about a two-hour drive to Oxford for a 4 p.m. kickoff. If you’re late, it’s probably not the biggest deal that you missed the opening quarter against an FCS school. Make sure to hit The Grove up after the game for some celebratory tailgating.
Travel 282 miles to:
Florida International at Louisiana Tech
When: Friday, Sept. 20
Where: Joe Aillet Stadium (Ruston, La.)
Travel 398 miles to:
Oklahoma State at Texas
When: Saturday, Sept. 21
Where: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (Austin, Texas)
Rundown: It’s a bit of a haul from Oxford to Ruston to Austin, but it’s doable. Get some cajun cooking on Friday and get a couple hours of shuteye after the game. Hit the road first thing in the morning so you can make it in time to watch the Cowboys take on Texas, which could contend for a national championship this year. And besides, who could say no to Bevo? Shoot your closest neighbor a Hook ’em Horns sign.
Travel 369 miles to:
Texas Tech at Oklahoma
When: Saturday, Sept. 28
Where: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (Norman, Okla.)
Rundown: Another week, another Big 12 game. Lincoln Riley should have the Sooners in the College Football Playoff discussion, and the Sooner Schooner is one of the must-sees of any college football season. Be sure to hit up the historic Campus Corner in downtown Norman, the site of frequent pep rallies, school spirit and other local attractions in one of the best college towns in America.
Travel 1,605 miles to:
New Mexico at San Jose State
When: Friday, Oct. 5
Where: CEFCU Stadium (San Jose, Calif.)
Travel 23 miles to:
Washington at Stanford
When: Saturday, Oct. 6
Where: Stanford Stadium (Stanford, Calif.)
Rundown: Good news and bad news: This is by far the longest drive of the season, with a whopping 1,605 miles separating Norman and San Jose. The good news: You have an entire week to make the trek, so you can stop and admire Grand Canyon along the way. And you can stick around overnight to watch Washington at Stanford on Saturday. Unfortunately, the Rose Bowl had to be sacrificed in the West Coast swing, but Pac-12 after dark is an experience in itself.
Travel 569 miles to:
Colorado at Oregon
When: Friday Oct. 11
Where: Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Ore.)
Travel 445 miles to:
Hawaii at Boise State
When: Saturday Oct. 12
Where: Albertsons Stadium (Boise, Idaho)
Rundown: It’s a bit of an overnight drive (around eight hours), but well worth it to see the stadium built by Nike. Plus you can watch Laviska Shenault Jr. and the Buffaloes take on Justin Herbert and the Ducks. Be sure to check out the historic Hayward Field at Oregon, which is currently undergoing a $200 million renovation in order to host the 2021 World Track & Field Championships. Follow that up with a visit to the iconic Smurf turf in Boise because, well, where else is the field blue?
Travel 1,473 miles to:
Purdue at Iowa
When: Saturday Oct. 19
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa
Rundown: We’re midway through October, and the trip has finally reached Big Ten country. There are plenty of corn fields to stop by and admire along the way from your trip from Idaho, but try to make time on Friday to visit the site where they filmed “Field of Dreams.” On a football-related note: Kinnick Stadium is loud, and the wave to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital at the end of the first quarter is one of the best traditions in college football.
Travel 449 miles to:
Notre Dame at Michigan
When: Saturday, Oct. 26
Where: Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Rundown: From Iowa City we make our way up to Ann Arbor for a late-October game – perfect football weather – between Michigan and Notre Dame. These rivals are two of college football’s most storied programs and will play in the nation’s largest football stadium with a potential Playoff berth on the line. Keep your ears open for The Victors, one of America’s most recognizable college fight songs. What more could you need?
Travel 461 miles to:
Florida Atlantic at Western Kentucky
When: Saturday, Nov. 2
Where: Houchens Industries- L.T. Smith Stadium (Bowling Green, Ky.)
Rundown: Yes, we know this isn’t exactly a blockbuster matchup. But it’s a chance to catch your breath and see the “Lane Train” (Lane Kiffin) lead the Owls against the Hilltoppers. Bowling Green also happens to be home to the National Corvette Museum, for those interested in fast cars. You could also make a stop in Louisville on your way down and stop at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
Travel 339 miles to:
Miami (Ohio) at Ohio
When: Wednesday, Nov. 6
Where: Peden Stadium (Athens, Ohio)
Travel 154 miles to:
Texas Tech at West Virginia
When: Saturday, Nov. 9
Where: Milan Puskar Stadium (Morgantown, W. Va.)
Rundown: What’s so special about a game between two MAC teams on a Wednesday night? Well it not only is the first taste of MACtion on our road trip, but also marks the 150th anniversary of college football’s first game ever, between Princeton and Rutgers. You’ll have two-plus days to make to a Saturday game in Morgantown for another Big 12 game between Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Mountaineers are always a tough team at home, and you might see some snow on the field.
Travel 499 miles to:
Wake Forest at Clemson
When: Saturday, Nov. 16
Where: Memorial Stadium (Clemson, S.C.)
Rundown: An ode to the reigning national champions in their final home game of the season. Watching Clemson players touch Howard’s Rock and run down the hill ranks up there with the best of gameday traditions. Trevor Lawrence seems like a lock for an NYC invite to the Heisman ceremony. With the Tigers likely in the national championship picture yet again, the atmosphere in Death Valley should be dynamite.
Travel 122 miles to:
N.C. State at Georgia Tech
When: Thursday, Nov. 21
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium (Atlanta)
Travel 530 miles to:
Arkansas at LSU
When: Saturday, Nov. 23
Where: Tiger Stadium, (Baton Rouge, La.)
Rundown: We’ve got a Thursday night game to see Geoff Collins in his first season at Georgia Tech before heading to Baton Rouge to watch the SEC West rivalry between Arkansas and LSU. The Battle for the Golden Boot includes a pretty cool trophy, but be sure to greet Mike the Tiger – a live Bengal tiger who lives in a swanky enclosure just outside the front gates of the stadium – before you head in. The atmosphere at Tiger Stadium in what should be a night game will be unforgettable.
Travel 367 miles to:
Appalachian State at Troy
When: Friday, Nov. 29
Where: Veterans Memorial Stadium (Troy, Ala.)
Travel 75 miles to:
Alabama at Auburn
When: Saturday, Nov. 30
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn, Ala.)
Rundown: The final leg of the trip includes two of the best teams in the Sun Belt a day before arguably the best rivalry game in college football. In Auburn, make sure to stop by Toomer’s Corner and grab a lemonade before heading to Jordan-Hare. If the Tigers play well in 2019, this game could determine who plays in the SEC championship. It’s worth noting the Tigers won the last time these teams met in Jordan-Hare. Throw the records out the window when these two teams meet up.