Best And Worst College Football Coaches ATS In Bowl Games

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 3:08 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 3:08 PM UTC

Studying up for the college football bowl season? Here's a list of the top and bottom three head coaches against the spread headed into December. 

Headed into the 2018-19 college football bowl season, we wanted to explore which coaches with their current programs owned the best and worst against-the-spread (ATS) records overall. The results may suprise:

Top Three Coaches ATS in Bowl Games

3. Ken Niumatalolo (2007-present) Navy Midshipmen

  • Bowl Record (5-5 SU, 7-3 ATS)

Ken Niumatalolo made his collegiate head-coaching debut in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl against Utah, promoted when Paul Johnson departed for Georgia Tech. Going off a 7.5-point underdog, Navy nearly won outright, but succumbed to a last-second interception by QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. The Midshipmen loss 35-32, though covered the spread, one of seven in bowl games under Niumatalolo’s guidance. Prepping against Navy’s triple-option flexbone offense is difficult for many teams to defend, even given weeks to practice. Niumatalolo has led Navy to nine of 10 winning seasons, but will miss a bowl appearance this year with just three victories going into its annual rivalry against Army.

2. Kyle Wittingham (2005-present), Utah Utes

  • Bowl Record: 10-1 SU, 8-3 ATS

Kyle Wittingham, 8-3 ATS in bowl-game matchups, is covering a 1.1 average line by 10.8 points per game. A ball-hawking defense, which allows just 20.7 points per game, forces an eye-opening 3.0 turnovers. Wittingham’s Utes are likely headed to the Alamo Bowl to take on similarly built Big-12 representative Iowa State. You can bet turnovers will be the difference-maker in that defense-first matchup.Still, things could change with a date against Washington for the Pac-12 title on deck:

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Coach Whittingham joined @Mike_Yam to discuss how @Utah_Football is preparing for #Pac12FCG.

Watch Inside Pac-12 Football live on our app: https://t.co/ZhZuI5ezsa pic.twitter.com/JckI0FIGex

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) 28 de novembro de 2018
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1. Doc Holliday (2010-present), Marshall Thundering Herd

  • Bowl Record: 5-0 SU, 5-0 ATS

Marshall is 9-1 SU and ATS in bowl games since 2000. Doc Holliday, head coach since 2010, is a perfect 5-0 SU and ATS overall. The Thundering Herd defense has showed up big in the postseason, yielding 18.2 points per game. No opponent has reached its projected team total, staying an average 9.1 points below market projections. Marshall, 8-3 SU in 2018 and likely headed to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, first has to square off against Virginia Tech to make up for a Week 3 cancellation due to Hurricane Florence.

Bottom Three Coaches ATS in Bowl Games

- Dana Holgorsen (2011-present), West Virginia

  • Bowl Record: 2-4 SU, 1-5 ATS

Dana Holgorsen’s bowl debut was a stunner, then No. 13-West Virginia romping 70-33 as a 3-point favorite over No. 2 Clemson in the 2011 Orange Bowl. Since, the offensive-minded coach is 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS. A porous run defense fails to get opponents off the field, surrendering 197.7 rushing yards per game. The Mountaineers, in fact, have allowed each bowl game opponent to surpass its projected team total. They are surrendering an average 36.5 points. Holgorsen’s always-effective modified Air Raid concept offense can only do so much when sitting on the sidelines for long stretches.

- Bill Snyder (1989-2005, 2009-present), Kansas State

  • Bowl Record: 9-10 SU, 7-12 ATS

Legendary coach Bill Snyder’s storied run, and remarkable turnaround of the Kansas State football program, looks like it could be finally coming to an end, as the Wildcats failed to make a bowl game with a 5-win 2018 season. The 79-year-old Hall of Famer, and winner of numerous coaching awards, has a so-so history of beating the market number in the postseason. In two different stints, Snyder is just 7-12 ATS overall in bowl games. His biggest hurdle is competing against ranked teams, failing to win or cover the spread in five attempts.

- Rod Carey (2012-present), Northern Illinois

  • Bowl Record: 0-5 SU, 0-5 ATS

Northern Illinois is winless in bowl games under current head coach Rod Carey, going 0-5 SU and ATS since 2012. For Huskies backers, the results have not been close either. The MAC West powerhouse is failing to cover a 7.7 average line by a whopping 17.7 points per game. Unable to generate much offense, averaging just 299.4 yards, Northern Illinois has lost by three touchdowns or more in each. Only two matchups (Florida State 2013, Duke 2017) have come against Power 5 opponents. Look for Northern Illinois to face off against Utah State in the Idaho Potato Bowl in 2018.

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