Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top 25
25. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
– 5 Thoughts on the Military Bowl
Michigan State 27, Wake Forest 21
It was a win, but it was way, way, way too tight considering the Spartan offense cranked up close to 500 yards. Give Dantonio and his staff credit, though, for the tweaks to slow down the Wake Forest passing game and shut things down in the second half.
24. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State
– Camellia Bowl 5 Things That Matter
Arkansas State 34, FIU 26
It was a bigger fight than it should’ve been after Anderson’s team got out to a 14-0 first quarter lead. Penalties were a problem, and getting the offense revved back up in the second half was a bigger issue, but Anderson’s team got it done.
23. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
– 5 Thoughts on the Texas Bowl
Texas A&M 24, Oklahoma State 21
Texas A&M got the win. It wasn’t pretty, and the offense struggled to work, but Jimbo is great in bowl games and his defense was fantastic after the first quarter. Kellen Mond had to save the day, the team was a -2 in turnover margin, and the eight penalties hurt. Jimbo got the win.
22. Chris Petersen, Washington
– 5 Thoughts on the Las Vegas Bowl
Washington 38, Boise State 7
That was a nasty Boise State team that Petersen’s team put away with ease. Maybe there was a little something to the whole last game thing for Coach Pete and his team, but everything worked in a shockingly easy win over a team that had a case to be in the New Year’s Six.
21. Scott Satterfield, Louisville
– 5 Thoughts on the Music City Bowl
Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28
Stay calm. All is well. That was Louisville after getting down 14-0 midway through the second quarter. It took a little to get going, but the offense started getting into more of a rhythm, and Satterfield’s team put up 31 straight points for one of the bowl season’s best offensive explosions by a team not named LSU. It would’ve been nice to have a better start, though.
20. Mack Brown, North Carolina
– 5 Thoughts on the Military Bowl
North Carolina 55, Temple 13
The ACC team is supposed to beat the Group of Five program, but Brown’s team didn’t leave any doubt with a great overall performance. There was offensive balance, the D held Temple to 272 yards, and it turned into a laugher. Brown’s Tar Heels were ready.
19. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
– 5 Thoughts on the Holiday Bowl
Iowa 49, USC 24
The Hawkeyes weren’t all that explosive or dangerous throughout the season, and they were dealing with a USC team that really, really needed this win. Nope … Iowa played too well in all three phases. The lines were fantastic, the scoring kept coming, and it was a great effort for a full three quarters.
18. Nick Rolovich, Hawaii
– 5 Thoughts on the Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii 38, BYU 34
Rolovich’s team came out hot and couldn’t be stopped … and then came halftime. The Rainbow Warriors couldn’t get the machine working in the second half up until the late game-winning drive. The O didn’t turn the ball over, the team was a +3 in turnover margin, and with 493 passing yards, it was a great way for the head man to exit to Washington State.
17. Josh Heupel, UCF
– 5 Thoughts on the Gasparilla Bowl
UCF 48, Marshall 25
Heupel should probably be higher than this. This wasn’t a New Year’s Six game, and it was way, way out of the spotlight, and the Knights were going against a program that never lost a bowl game under head coach Doc Holliday. Heupel’s team was up for this, getting up 21-0 in the first and 31-7 with the only score coming on a pick six.
16. Kirby Smart, Georgia
– 5 Thoughts on the Sugar Bowl
Georgia 26, Baylor 14
Give him credit for taking what he had to work with and make this a snoozer. Smart was missing most of his great offensive line, and RB D’Andre Swift was banged up and didn’t do anything, but that’s what the passing game and defense are for. The Dawgs went up 19-0 at halftime and were never threatened, After last year’s Sugar Bowl loss to Texas, the team played like it wanted this.
15. Nick Saban, Alabama
– 5 Thoughts on the Citrus Bowl
Alabama 35, Michigan 16
On the plus side, the team adjusted. The running game stepped it up, the lines took over, and the defense shut down everything Michigan tried to do in the second half. On the negative side, it took tweaks and more fight to get past an uneven first half. Give a ton of credit, though, to Saban and the staff for getting the team up for this. It wasn’t a College Football Playoff game, and the effort was there.
14. Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
– 5 Thoughts on the Birmingham Bowl
Cincinnati 38, Boston College 6
Cincinnati certainly wasn’t hanging its head after losing the American Athletic Conference title and missing out on the New Year’s Six game. Fickell’s squad came out roaring with one of the most dominant performances of the bowl season. Boston College had a whole slew of acceptable issues, and no one cared – the Bearcats were fully prepared and totally fantastic.
13. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
– 5 Thoughts on the Independence Bowl
Louisiana Tech 14, Miami 0
Sort of lost in the win was how the Louisiana Tech offense didn’t really work and didn’t put the game away until late. Whatever … this was the first ever shutout delivered in the Independence Bowl. It was a win over an ACC team, it was a win over the Miami Hurricanes, and it was a win that Bulldog fans will never forget.
12. Shawn Clark, Appalachian State
– 5 Thoughts on the New Orleans Bowl
Appalachian State 31, UAB 17
Yeah, his team was a huge favorite, but Clark was thrown into the moment after the coaching change and with a whole lot of uncertainty. It was rocky early on, but Clark’s team settled down and outscored UAB 31-3 after the first quarter.
11. Rocky Long, San Diego State
– 5 Thoughts on the New Mexico Bowl
San Diego State 48, Central Michigan 11
Not bad for the last game. Long’s final moment as the San Diego State head coach was not only brilliant, but it went against type. All of a sudden, he unleashed the offense to go with the dominant D in an ugly blowout.