16 college football road trips to smaller venues in 2018

By Amy Daughters -

Power teams scheduling games at a Group of Five member’s home stadium is a practice on the upswing.

Though elite programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and USC aren’t a part of the trend, this season big-time names like Miami Fla. and Arkansas will hit the road and play at considerably smaller venues.

The Power 5 at Group of Five matchups featured below are those with the biggest gap between the stadium capacity of the home and away teams. The ACC leads the way with seven members making the list, the Pac-12 comes in second with four and the Big 12 and Big Ten each have two apiece. That leaves the SEC with just one member mentioned.

Wake Forest at Tulane (Thursday, Aug. 30)

Capacity gap: -1,500 (Wake Forest 31,500 vs. Tulane 30,000)

Wake Forest visited Appalachian State last season, home of Kidd Brewer Stadium which seats 24,050. Tulane hasn’t hosted a Power school since Duke rolled into New Orleans for the 2015 season opener and won 37-7.

Washington State at Wyoming (Saturday, Sept. 1)

Capacity gap: -3,771 (Washington State 32,952 vs. Wyoming 29,181)

Washington State played at Boise State in 2016, but Albertson’s Stadium holds 36,387, or 3,435 more than Martin Stadium in Pullman. The last time the Cougars played a non-Power member with a smaller venue was in 2014 when they visited Nevada’s 30,000-seat Mackay Stadium and lost 24-13. Wyoming welcomed a Power opponent as recently as last season when Oregon visited and won 49-13.

TCU at SMU (Friday, Sept. 7)

Capacity gap: -13,000 (TCU 45,000 vs. SMU 32,000)

A rivalry game between two schools located 40 miles apart, TCU and SMU have played each other consecutively since 1989 with only one exception (2006). The last time TCU visited a non-Power club that wasn’t SMU was in 2011 when it played at (5) Boise State, its final road game as a member of the Mountain West. The Mustangs haven’t welcomed a big boy other than the Horned Frogs since opening the 2015 season with a visit from (4) Baylor.

North Carolina at East Carolina (Saturday, Sept. 8)

Capacity gap: -13,000 (UNC 63,000 vs. ECU 50,000)

The Tar Heels descended on Old Dominion’s 20,118-seat Foreman Field last season, winning 53-23 in front of a sell-out crowd. The Pirates have welcomed an ACC member to Greenville each of the last five seasons; Virginia Tech in 2017, 2015 and 2013, NC State in 2016 and North Carolina in 2014.

Oregon State at Nevada (Saturday, Sept. 15)

Capacity gap: -15,674 (Oregon State 45,674 vs. Nevada 30,000)

Oregon State kicked off last season with a loss at Colorado State, home to 41,200-seat PSCU Stadium. Nevada last welcomed a big boy in 2015, when (22) Arizona waltzed into Reno and won 44-20.

Arizona at Houston (Saturday, Sept. 8)

Capacity gap: -16,029 (Arizona 56,029 vs. Houston 40,000)

Arizona made a trip to UTEP last season, winning 63-16 in front of a crowd of 22,133 in the 51,500-seat Sun Bowl. Houston also hosted Texas Tech in 2017, narrowly falling 27-24. The Cougars’ TDECU Stadium was filled to 91% capacity.

Kansas at Central Michigan (Saturday, Sept. 8)

Capacity gap: -17,186 (Kansas 50,071 vs. CMU 32,885)

Kansas visited Ohio University’s 24,000-seat Peden Stadium last season, losing 42-30 in front a crowd of 22,056. Central Michigan hosted another Big 12 school, Oklahoma State, as recently as 2015, losing 24-13 to the Cowboys.

Syracuse at Western Michigan (Friday, Aug. 31)

Capacity gap: -19,062 (Syracuse 49,262 vs. WMU 30,200)

Syracuse made the trek to UConn in 2016, winning 31-24. Western Michigan welcomed (5) Michigan State for the 2015 season opener, suffering a narrow 37-24 loss as 28-point underdogs.

NC State at Marshall (Saturday, Sept. 22)

Capacity gap: -19,356 (NC State 57,583 vs. Marshall 38,227)

NC State booked a ticket to East Carolina in Week 2 of the 2016 season, losing 33-30. Marshall’s last visit from a Power member also came in 2016 when (3) Louisville came calling and won 59-28.

Utah at Northern Illinois (Saturday, Sept. 8)

Capacity gap: -22,212 (Utah 45,807 vs. Northern Illinois 23,595)

Utah made a visit to 30,456-seat CEFCU Stadium to play San Jose State in 2016, winning 34-17. Northern Illinois hosted Boston College to open the 2017 season, falling to the Eagles 23-20 on a field goal with two minutes remaining in the game.

Pitt at UCF (Saturday, Sept. 29)

Capacity gap: -23,077 (Pitt 68,400 vs. UCF 45,323)

Pitt trekked to Akron, Ohio during Week 2 of the 2015 season, beating the Zips 24-7 in front of a crowd of 23,425. UCF welcomed Maryland as recently as 2016, losing 30-24 in double-overtime.

Maryland at Bowling Green (Saturday, Sept. 8)

Capacity gap: -28,078 (Maryland 51,802 vs. Bowling Green 23,724)

The week before Maryland played UCF in Orlando in 2016 it visited FIU in Miami and won 41-14. Bowling Green hasn’t hosted a Power squad since 2014 when Indiana came calling and eked out a 45-42 victory.

Arkansas at Colorado State (Saturday, Sept. 8)

Capacity gap: -30,800 (Arkansas 72,000 vs. Colorado State 41,200)

Arkansas hasn’t had an away game vs. a non-Power member since 1999 when it opened the season with a 26-0 win at SMU, then a member of the WAC. Colorado State hosted Oregon State to kickoff its 2017 campaign, smashing the Beavers 58-27.

Indiana at FIU (Saturday, Sept. 1)

Capacity gap: -32,929 (Indiana 52,929 vs. FIU 20,000)

The Hoosiers also opened the 2016 season at FIU, winning 34-13 in front of a crowd of 16,089. The week after that game, Maryland played at FIU, marking the last time the Panthers hosted a Power club.

Miami Fla. at Toledo (Saturday, Sept. 15)

Capacity gap: -39,078 (Miami Fla. 65,326 vs. Toledo 26,248)

Miami traveled to App State during Week 3 of the 2016 season. The No. 25 Hurricanes won 45-10 in front of a record crowd of 34,658. Toledo hosted Iowa State in 2015, winning 30-23 in double overtime.

Virginia Tech at Old Dominion (Saturday, Sept. 22)

Capacity gap: -45,514 (Virginia Tech 65,632 vs. ODU 20,118)

Virginia Tech played at East Carolina last season, sinking the Pirates 64-17. Old Dominion also played host to North Carolina in 2017, losing 53-23.

Comments (4)

This isn’t a bad thing. These Power Conference teams have my respect for not being afraid to go out and play smaller FBS schools.

I’m happy to see this happen. The Power Five programs can get the Group of Five programs a good gate that they wouldn’t otherwise get. I can’t help but respect Power programs that do this.