What is the College Football Empires Map?
Last season, I created the College Football Imperialism Map, which quickly became one of the most anticipated features on the CFB Subreddit every week. This season I have been given the opportunity to host this map on SB Nation, under the slight name change to the College Football Empires Map.
This map asks the question, “What if college football games were played for more than just wins and losses, but also for land?”
Each FBS team is given a territory to begin the season, and if they lose, the team that beats them takes their land. Teams are then always in the process of trying to either regain land or expand their land by beating teams that have land.
The territories for each team are determined by which school is closest in straight-line distance to the geometric center of each county.
This does result in some quirks.
The largest of these is that Miami isn’t closest to any county. To remedy this, Puerto Rico has been added and given to Miami as a starting territory. Also, Cal does not own the county it’s located in (Stanford is slightly closer), and Michigan has counties that are not connected but are in the same territory.
To better explain how the Empires Map will change throughout the season, let’s start with Week 0’s results.
Aug. 25 featured UMass-Duquesne, Rice-Prairie View, Hawaii-Colorado State, and Wyoming-New Mexico State.
- The UMass and Rice games result in no land changes, because UMass and Rice beat teams that did not have land.
- Hawaii and Wyoming, however, were able to take the land from Colorado State and New Mexico State respectively, because they had possession of land going into the game.
Therefore, the map looked like this heading into Week 1:
And here’s what it looks like after Week 1.
Due to the land obtained by Hawaii and Wyoming in Week 0, their Week 1 games were worth slightly more land than the average opener.
- Washington State was able to conquer the beginnings of an empire by taking the land of both Wyoming and Wyoming’s victim, New Mexico State.
- Hawaii held off the naval attack of the Midshipmen and gained Navy’s land to add to Colorado State’s land and Hawaii’s original land.
- Auburn conquered a large chunk of land in the Northwest, becoming the leader in land area by taking Alaska from the Huskies.
- Ole Miss survived its shoot-out with the Red Raiders and took a large plot of land in west Texas.
- Michigan State sneaked out with a win over the Aggies of Utah State and took a large portion of the Northwest.
- While not much land was exchanged, I think it is also important to note that somehow an army of one-pound turtles took a swatch from an army of 2,000-pound longhorns in the Maryland-Texas game. Just shows anything can happen on the Empires Map.
While some teams go crazy and just attack wherever they feel like (cough, cough Hawaii), some teams try to expand outwards from their home base.
This week, several teams were able to expand contiguous territory through consolidation.
- Washington State conquered Wyoming.
- USC moved inland a bit by taking over UNLV, expanding into Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.
- Houston claimed sole command over the city of Houston by chowing down on some Rice, and Vanderbilt took over Middle Tennessee with a win over the Blue Raiders.
- Iowa, South Carolina, and Liberty conquered their neighbors to the east, as they defeated Northern Illinois, Coastal Carolina, and Old Dominion.
- And Boston College took sole command of their home state by taking down the Minutemen of UMass.
While FCS teams don’t start with any land, they did win their way onto the map.
Five achieved this feat this week.
- UC Davis took down the San Jose State Spartans to take over their coastal land.
- Northern Arizona got some nice land on the Mexican border by taking down UTEP.
- North Carolina A&T liberated the coast from the control of the Pirates of ECU.
- Villanova took control of their home town by defeating Temple.
- And Nicholls State outlasted Kansas and cemented itself right in the middle of the country. The Colonels will look to defend against the Tulane Green Wave, which somehow plan to attack Kansas despite the clear lack of an ocean.
Now here’s a GIF that shows the progression of the entire season so far:
Up next, Week 2 features over 20 matchups between teams that both own land.
- College GameDay is attending one as the Clemson Tigers go up against the Texas A&M Aggies.
- Iowa and Iowa State will battle over a large majority of Iowa and some land extending east into Illinois.
- Penn State and Pitt will wage war over most of Pennsylvania and also for a large portion of land from the original Empires Map (more on that below).
- If you need a reason to watch the Vanderbilt-Nevada game, it will be for a large chunk of land for either side.
- South Carolina and Georgia will not only be battling for a clear lead in the SEC East, but also for three territories that will all be connected.
- In Group 5 action, ULM and Southern Mississippi are playing for close to half of Mississippi.
- And many more opportunities for teams to conquer the land of other teams and either find their way back on the map or expand their holdings.
The Empires Map was started last season, featured on the CFB Subreddit. Due to demand, the 2017 map will continue on through 2018 as well.
You can see below the progression across the season last year:
Week 1 featured several changes for the 2017-18 map. Penn State consolidated territories by defeating the Appalachian State attackers. Vanderbilt and Oklahoma found their way back on the map by defeating MTSU and FAU. And Virginia Tech captured some land in Texas from the Seminoles on Monday night.
Next week features two consolidation matches. Penn State and Pitt will face off for possession of 31 territories, which will tie them with Ohio State, who won the 2017 Empires Map. Northwestern and Duke also face off to take possession of six territories.
We look forward to seeing how both of these maps progress through the season.
Be sure to come back every Monday to see how the map progresses each week.