Looking at things objectively, it's probably safe to assume that Syracuse's bowl attendance in Houston isn't going to be great. SU had a nice season, all things considered, but at 6-6 there still isn't a ton of hype surrounding the Orange this year. The Carrier Dome to Reliant Stadium isn't an easy trip - it's a 24-25 hour drive going through six states and encompassing over 1,600 miles according to Google Maps. Flights aren't cheap either: a quick look at Expedia shows upwards of $600 for Syracuse to Houston round-trip, over $550 coming from New York City.
This Texas Bowl won't be a great showing for the Syracuse fan base. However, I really don't think that has a huge impact on what SU's bowl attendance going forward as a member of the ACC.
From 2014-2019, the ACC has secured the following bowl arrangements, according to ESPN:
Discover Orange Bowl, Miami, FL
Russell Athletic Bowl, Orlando, FL
Capital One Bowl, Orlando, FL
Hyundai Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
Belk Bowl, Charlotte, NC
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Nashville, TN
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, FL
New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Bronx, NY
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, Annapolis, MD
AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Shreveport, LA
Detroit Bowl, Detroit, MI
Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl, St. Petersburg, FL*
Birmingham Bowl, Birmingham, AL**
*Bowl is in the ACC lineup for 2014 and 2016, and is a conditional partner the other years
**Bowl is the second conditional ACC partner
Looking at a 2010 map of Syracuse alumni by state, this bowl lineup is a pretty good one for the Syracuse fan base.
I placed the ACC bowl line-up over the map:
This year, with the Orange in Texas, we're looking at ~3,764 alumni in state (as of 2010), with another 1,463 in bordering states. With the sheer size of the state, and the low number of alums and fans nearby, as well as the high flight prices, it's not crazy that Syracuse won't travel well. Several of the other possible ACC bowls have sunnier outlooks for the Orange.
Florida Bowl Games:
The ACC has arrangements with five Florida bowls, and with over 10,000 Syracuse alumni and assuredly a high number of CNY transplants living in the state, Syracuse should show well here. Florida and bordering states have 14,129 SU alumni. Recent games against USF have seen very solid Syracuse turnouts, and a high ranking bowl like the Orange Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, or Capital One Bowl would likely attract a good number of traveling fans.
Syracuse -> Miami: 1,417 miles (20:30)
Syracuse -> Orlando: 1,213 mi (17:31)
Syracuse -> Jacksonville: 1,072 mi (15:37)
Syracuse -> St. Petersburg: 1,290 mi (19:02)
Flights (2013-14 bowl dates, cheapest via Expedia):
Syracuse -> Miami (1/2-1/4, Orange Bowl 1/3/14): $798.50
NYC -> Miami: $556.79
Syracuse -> Orlando (12/27-12/29, Russell Athletic Bowl 12/28/13): $601.60
NYC -> Orlando: $439.80
Syracuse -> Orlando (12/31-1/2, Capital One Bowl 1/1/14): $466.70
NYC -> Orlando: $323.79
Syracuse -> Jacksonville (12/31-1/2, Gator Bowl 1/1/14): $445.60
NYC -> Jacksonville: $335.70
Syracuse -> St. Petersburg (12/22-12/24, Beef O'Brady's Bowl 12/23): N/A
NYC -> St. Petersburg: N/A
The Sun Bowl in El Paso is the only ACC bowl game in Texas, and I think that it would probably do better in terms of drawing Syracuse fans than the Texas Bowl, if only slightly, because of El Paso's location in western Texas. Syracuse has a large alumni base in California (12,976 according to our handy map), and El Paso is a full ten hours closer in the car to Los Angeles than Houston.
For Syracusans and New Yorkers, it's not much different than the Texas Bowl in terms of travel. If you've driven 24 hours for a bowl, might as well drive 31, right?
Syracuse -> El Paso: 2,104 mi (31:00)
Syracuse -> El Paso (12/30-1/1): $688.50
NYC -> El Paso: $431.50
This is one that Syracuse fans should represent very well at. There is a decent alumni base in North Carolina (4,217... 17,091 in NC and bordering states), and it seems like half of the state is CNY transplants. Syracuse has represented incredibly well at both football and basketball games in state recently, much to NC State's chagrin, and I believe a bowl game would do even better. If SU is an 8-win team and a North Carolina school isn't available, Syracuse would be a great choice for Belk.
Syracuse -> Charlotte: 727 mi (10:44)
Syracuse -> Charlotte (12/27-12/29): $390.10
NYC -> Charlotte: $281.30
Music City Bowl:
At first glance, Nashville doesn't seem like a great spot for Syracuse in a bowl with under 1,000 Syracuse alumni living in state, but North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia are all hotbeds for SU - 17,835 alumni live in Tennessee and bordering states. The Music City Bowl is a cool destination against a team from the SEC. This bowl probably won't draw as well as the Florida games, the Belk Bowl, or the Pinstripe Bowl, but I think SU would do okay here.
Syracuse -> Nashville: 850 mi (12:38)
Syracuse -> Nashville (12/29-12/31): $376.10
NYC -> Nashville: $229.30
Not going to waste many words here. This is the big one for Syracuse fans, and with the ACC landing this bowl starting next year, expect to see a lot of 6, 7, or 8 win Orange squads to land here. No complaints from this southern Connecticuter. In 2010 there were over 75,000 alumni living in New York State (I've heard that number as around 78,000 now), and the map shows 117,414 alumni in surrounding states. Honestly, SU should do even better at this game than it has in the past, but either way it is easily the best match for the Orange fan base.
Syracuse -> Bronx: 254 mi (3:57)
Syracuse -> NYC (12/27-12/29): $223.80
This is another really good landing spot for SU, and with Maryland out of the picture, Syracuse could definitely land here in six or seven win years. Maryland holds 6,340 alumni, and DC has another 1,592. Maryland and the surrounding areas have 38,018 total.
Syracuse -> Annapolis: 365 mi (5:36)
Syracuse -> Baltimore (12/26-12/28): $506.50
NYC -> Baltimore: $343.80
AdvoCare V100 Bowl:
Meh. I don't see Shreveport ever being an attractive landing spot for Syracuse, but I'm sure we'll have to fill this spot every so often. My expectations aren't high. Louisiana only has a few hundred SU alumni, as do Arkansas and Mississippi. Texas is also a border state, but who knows where the majority of those almost 4,000 alumni live? This isn't a great spot for Syracuse.
Syracuse -> Shreveport: 1,405 mi (20:46)
Syracuse -> Shreveport: $699.60
NYC -> Shreveport: $583.50
This is a new player on the ever expanding bowl scene, becoming the second Detroit-based bowl, along with the Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl, of which the future is a bit sketchy. Detroit is not a bad trip from Syracuse, but I don't see this ever being a huge draw, unless the Big Ten opponent is an especially exciting one. Detroit in the winter isn't a big draw.
Syracuse -> Detroit: 402 mi (6:13)
Syracuse -> Detroit (Using Pizza Bowl dates: 12/25-12/27): $409.80
NYC -> Detroit: $316.80
See: Advocare V100 Bowl, pretty much. If we happen to steal this one from Pitt, and lord knows we can't have that, this isn't a great landing place. Proximity to Atlanta (146 miles) may give this a boost over Shreveport, but I'll be rooting for Pinstripe or Military over this every year. Luckily, this is a replacement bowl far down the ACC's list, so I don't know how often it will be in play.
Syracuse -> Birmingham: 1,044 mi (15:15)
Syracuse -> Birmingham (1/3-1/5): $453.60
NYC -> Birmingham: $352.60
While the Texas Bowl isn't the best place for Syracuse, it is probably the only time we'll get selected to travel to Houston considering the number of ACC bowl slots from 2014-19. There are a few stinkers in the line-up from an SU perspective: I don't see the Orange fan base travelling well to El Paso, Birmingham, Shreveport, and Nashville and Detroit are suspect, but the Florida Bowls, Belk Bowl, Military Bowl and the Pinstripe Bowl would all attract a fair-to-high number of Syracuse fans. With the athletic department's performance in landing SU in Texas this year, I have no doubt that they will be able to sell Syracuse to even more attractive ACC-affiliated games.
Syracuse may not travel well to the Texas Bowl, but I don't think one bad trip to a far-away, expensive location will sink the team's prospects for future games.