Head Coach Rankings: Bowl Season Top Ten
10. Tom Herman, Texas
– 5 Thoughts on the Alamo Bowl
Texas 38, Utah 10
That was a fantastic Utah team that got totally dominated. If getting up for a bowl game is one of the biggest keys, Herman has that side of things down. Utah was the much better team coming off a much better season, and Herman’s team owned this from the start.
9. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
– 5 Thoughts on the Camping World Bowl
Notre Dame 33, Iowa State 9
Give Kelly and his staff for making a dangerous bowl look easy. The team showed up and pitched a terrific game. There was a bit of upheaval among the coaches, and it was all fine as the Irish got up 20-3 and coasted from there. This was a high-powered Iowa State team that was held to just three field goals.
8. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
If there could be just one knock on Dabo’s post-season, it’s that he didn’t commit more to the ground game against LSU. Trevor Lawrence wasn’t able to keep up the pace, Travis Etienne was fantastic, and … fine, it was a loss to a team that came up with a historically great season. Clemson stayed alive, stayed alive, stayed alive, against Ohio State, and then it came through when it had its opportunities. The defense allowed just seven second half points.
7. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
– 5 Thoughts on the Liberty Bowl
Navy 20, Kansas State 17
The impressive part about what Niumatalolo and the Navy coaching staff pulled off is that it all happened against a team that should’ve had this thing clocked. Kansas State was perfectly set up on both sides of the ball to focus on stopping Malcolm Perry, all while dominating the clock with its own running game. Instead, the Navy O rocked with over 200 rushing yards from Perry, and the D allowed a mere 170 yards. Navy didn’t just win a bowl game; it beat a Big 12 team.
6. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
– 5 Thoughts on the Cheez-It Bowl
Air Force 31, Washington State 21
It can’t be overstated – it’s always impressive when a military academy is able to beat a Power Five program. The talent disparity is massive, but give Calhoun and his team credit – their offense did what it does better than Washington State was able to do that it does. How good was the game plan? Air Force had the ball for over 43 minutes.
5. Glenn Spencer, Florida Atlantic
– 5 Thoughts on the Boca Raton Bowl
Florida Atlantic 52, SMU 28
Spencer kept everything going with Lane Kiffin getting the Ole Miss gig. Yeah, Spencer had a home bowl game with a terrific team, but the team still lost its head coach, it had to deal with a slew of changes on the fly, and it played a fired-up and explosive game that turned into an ugly blowout.
4. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
– 5 Thoughts on the Belk Bowl
Kentucky 37, Virginia Tech 30
Run Lynn Bowden. Then run Lynn Bowden. And then try running Lynn Bowden again. There wasn’t anything crazy about what UK was doing, and yet Virginia Tech couldn’t stop it. Once again, Stoops had an overmatched team in a bowl game, and once again his team figured out how to win it.
3. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
– 5 Thoughts on the Outback Bowl
Minnesota 31, Auburn 24
It took entirely too much effort to put the game away, but the game plan was fantastic, Fleck’s Gophers thoroughly outplayed the team that beat Alabama, and every call and every big moment seemed to go the right way. This was one of the best prepared teams of the bowl season – and it was of just two teams to beat the SEC.
2. Sean Lewis, Kent State
– 5 Thoughts on the Frisco Bowl
Kent State 51, Utah State 41
It’s the first ever bowl win for the program, and the team did it with panache. Utah State is a whole lot better and more talented than the Golden Flashes, and yet Lewis’s FlashFast offense blew up late. It was a battle, but 25 fourth quarter points made it special. His teams found a way to get it done late in the year.
1. Ed Orgeron, LSU
That was a Big 12 champion with one of the nation’s most amazing offenses that LSU ripped to shreds in the Peach Bowl. That was the defending champion that got rolled in the National Championship.
This LSU team finished up an all-timer of a season by taking its game up a whole other level when it mattered most. Talk about a tone – this was an ultra-confident team that knew it was good, and played like it. And now, Ed Orgeron is a national championship head coach.