On Jan. 8, Georgia and Alabama will meet in the College Football Playoff championship game in Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

So what significance does the matchup have, other than being the first time since 2011 (and second time since the start of the BCS era) that the championship will be decided between two teams from the same conference?

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Well, to compete for the title, the Bulldogs will have a brisk 61-mile trek from Athens, while the Tide are traveling 187 miles from Tuscaloosa. That’s a combined 248 miles between the two squads, making 2017’s championship game the shortest combined distance traveled since the start of the BCS era in 1998.

Year Team A Team B Championship location Team A distance Team B distance (air miles) Total distance Rank
2018 Georgia Alabama Mercedez-Benz Stadium, Atlanta 60.83 187.28 248.11 1
2012 Alabama LSU Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana 269.33 72.89 342.22 2
2004 LSU Oklahoma Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans 72.89 563.02 635.91 3
2008 LSU Ohio St Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans 72.89 799.45 872.34 4
2017 Clemson Alabama Raymond James Stadium, Tampa 465.75 474.2 939.95 5
2000 Florida St Virginia Tech Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans 347.8 749.63 1097.43 6
2006 Texas USC Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California 1215.98 8.71 1224.69 7
2009 Florida Oklahoma Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida 286.39 1205.68 1492.07 8
2001 Oklahoma Florida St Pro Player Stadium, Miami 1215.79 408.44 1624.23 9
2013 Alabama Notre Dame Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida 668.02 1142.62 1810.64 10
2011 Auburn Oregon University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona 1544.97 933.24 2478.21 11
2015 Ohio St Oregon AT&T Stadium, Arlington 929.74 1601.37 2531.11 12
2010 Alabama Texas Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California 1754.56 1215.98 2970.54 13
2016 Alabama Clemson University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale 1418.8 1676.83 3095.63 14
1999 Tennessee Florida St Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona 1597.65 1631.95 3229.6 15
2007 Florida Ohio St University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona 1773.55 1669.22 3442.77 16
2005 USC Oklahoma Pro Player Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida 2330.2 1205.68 3535.88 17
2002 Miami Nebraska Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California 2332.99 1261.05 3594.04 18
2003 Ohio St Miami Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona 1659.44 1973.19 3632.63 19
2014 Florida St Auburn Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California 1987.52 1881.67 3869.19 20

(Distance measured by air miles)

Since Tennessee and Florida State headed west to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona for the 1998 BCS championship, the average combined distance traveled to compete for the title has been just over 2,200 miles.

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The longest trek came in 2014, when the Rose Bowl hosted Florida State (1,988 miles away) and Auburn (1,882 miles away).

And before this year’s matchup, the shortest any two teams had to travel was 2012’s matchup between Alabama and LSU in New Orleans’ Superdome, which the Tide won 21-0.

So does travel distance have anything to do with performance in a title bout? Short answer, nope.

Over the 19 years since the first BCS championship, the teams with the shorter trip are 10-9.

In fact, the champions of the past 19 years traveled an average of 1,155 miles, while the runner-ups only had 1,078 miles to go. Playing in your home state doesn’t guarantee a win either. Homestate teams are 3-3 in championship games.

Year Champion Runner-up Site
2001 Oklahoma Florida St. Pro Player Stadium, Miami
2004 LSU Oklahoma Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
2006 Texas USC Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California
2008 LSU Ohio St. Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
2009 Florida Oklahoma Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
2012 Alabama LSU Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

So, sorry Bulldogs. Looks like getting to walk to the stadium doesn’t actually guarantee a win. Guess they’ll have to play the game after all.

Daniel Wilco has worked at the AJC, Sports Illustrated, and SEC Country. His writing has also appeared on SI.com, Men’s Health, and The Cauldron.

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