Bowl Coaching Trends: Is Les Miles A Bowl Genius? Plus A Recipe For An Upset In The Sun Bowl

posted in College Football, College Football Bowls

One factor that you should keep your eye on come bowl season is the past bowl performance of a coach or a program.

Does a coach’s precision offense always have some extra rust after three weeks of inactivity? Or perhaps he’s known more for recruiting superior athletes than for any special scheme, and that athleticism edge is unaffected by the down time, so his teams tend to excel.

To help investigate these past performance issues, we’ve included a Bowl History page for every bowl game. For example, here is the Wisconsin vs Oregon Bowl History. Links to every single Bowl History page can be found on our 2011-12 College Bowl Game Schedule.

Below, we discuss three bowl games where at least one of the coaches has a bowl history trend you might want to be aware of. To find trends pertaining to the rest of the bowls, make sure to dig into our Bowl History pages.

All Les Miles Does Is Cover (At LSU, At Least)

[via LSU & Alabama Bowl History]

Since taking over the reigns at LSU in 2005, Miles has led the Tigers to a bowl game every year. In that span they’ve gone 5-1, both straight up and against the spread. That’s a nice little record, but what’s really remarkable is the margin of the covers.

SeasonBowlOpponentSpreadResultATS Margin
2010CottonTexas A&M-1W by 17+16
2009Capital OnePenn State-2L by 2-4
2008Chick-fil-AGA Tech+4W by 35+39
2007BCSOhio State-3.5W by 14+10.5
2006SugarNotre Dame-9W by 27+18
2005PeachMiami (FL)+6W by 37+43
AVERAGE-1W by 21+20

His LSU teams have covered the spread in their bowl games by an average of almost 3 touchdowns. Impressive.

Contrast that with his January 9th opponent, Nick Saban. Saban coached LSU from 200 to 2004, going only 2-3 against the spread in bowl games. In his 4 bowls at Alabama, his teams have covered the spread 3 of 4 times, but by an average of only 6 points.

Somebody’s Gotta Cover The Spread In The Cotton Bowl

[via Kansas State & Arkansas Bowl History, plus Louisville Bowl History]

Kansas State and Arkansas face off in the Cotton Bowl in a battle of two teams who both got snubbed by the BCS. Maybe the extra motivation will do them some good, as neither head coach has been able to get their teams to perform very well in bowls.

Wildcats coach Bill Snyder has failed to cover the spread in 6 of his last 7 bowl games, dating all the way back to 1998. Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino is 1-5 against the spread in bowl games in his career, including his time at Louisville and Arkansas:

SeasonBowl OppSpreadResultvs ATSSeasonBowl OppSpreadResultvs ATS
2010Syracuse+1L by 2-12010Ohio State+3L by 5-2
2003Ohio State-7L by 7-142009E Carolina-7.5W by 3-4.5
2001Arizona St-17.5W by 7-10.52006W Forest-10.5W by 11+0.5
2001Syracuse-6L by 23-292005VA Tech+10L by 11-1
2000Tennessee-3W by 14+112004Boise State-11.5W by 4-7.5
1999Washington-10W by 4-62003Miami (OH)+14L by 21-7
1998Purdue-13.5L by 3-16.5
AVG-8L by 1.5-9.5AVG-0.5L by 3-3.5

Kansas State is 9-3 ATS this year, including 7-1 as underdogs. Either this year’s hot streak or Snyder’s cold spell has to come to an end January 6th.

Recipe For An Upset In The Sun Bowl?

[via Georgia Tech & Utah Bowl History]

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson is 0-3 in bowl games with the Yellow Jackets despite his team being the favorite 2 of the last 3 years.

Standing across the field from him in two weeks will be Kyle Wittingham, who has led Utah to a 5-1 bowl record, despite being favored in only 2 of 6 games.

SeasonBowl OppSpreadResultvs ATSSeasonBowl OppSpreadResultvs ATS
2010Boise State+15.5L by 23-7.52010Air Force+3L by 7-4
2009California+2.5W by 10+12.52009Iowa-6L by 10-16
2008Alabama+9.5W by 14+23.52008LSU-4L by 35-39
2007Navy-9W by 3-6
2006Tulsa-2.5W by 12+9.5
2005GA Tech+9W by 28+37
AVG+4W by 7.5+11.5AVG-2.5L by 17.5-20

So, we’ve got a coach who makes a habit of winning as a dog, versus another one whose teams seem to make a habit of choking as the favorite.

And, wouldn’t you know it, Georgia Tech is favored by 3.5 points. The Utes have them right where they want them.

By the way, if you’re going to compete in a Bowl Pick’em or are planning on wagering on some of the games, make sure to check out our 2011-2012 college football bowl games section, complete with bowl predictions, bowl betting picks, and bowl pick’em advice and picks.