College football rivalry games can be among the most difficult to handicap.
Plenty of top-notch coaches—Nick Saban, Bob Stoops, Les Miles, etc.—have covered the spread just 50 percent of the time against their schools’ biggest rivals.
But some coaches have dominated their rivals consistently, and in some cases, at multiple schools. Below is a look at some of the best spread-covering coaches in rivalry games.
We’ve also included the point spreads for each of the matchups, courtesy of LVH SuperBook.
Note: For practical purposes, we limited the list to coaches who had at least 10 years of experience in “rivalry games.” Otherwise, the sample size was just too small.
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Bill Snyder, Kansas State
ATS record vs. Kansas: 17-4
Snyder has absolutely crushed the Jayhawks since arriving in Manhattan in 1989. Overall, he’s 17-4 both straight up and against the spread vs. KU, and that includes a 15-1 mark in both categories since his program really started to take form in 1994. Snyder covers by an average of 19 points per game.
What makes this even more impressive is it’s not aided by the fact that Kansas State naturally has a superior program. Ron Prince went 0-3 straight up and against the spread against the Jayhawks in his three seasons from 2006-08 before Snyder took over the job for a second time in 2009. Margin of victory the last three years? 164-44.
This year’s result: Kansas State 56, KU 16.
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Steve Spurrier, South Carolina and Florida
ATS record vs. Clemson: 5-2
ATS record vs. Georgia: 9-3
Much of Spurrier’s numbers are influenced by his absolute domination of Georgia during his tenure at Florida through the 1990s. Spurrier lost only one game to the Bulldogs during 12 seasons in Gainesville and he covered 75 percent of the time.
Now at South Carolina, Spurrier is starting to seize control of in-state rival Clemson as well. After losing to the Tigers in his first season in 2005, Spurrier is now 5-1 ATS vs. Clemson in his last six, including outright wins as 5.5-point underdogs in 2006 and 3.5-point dogs in 2009. Last year, Spurrier and the Gamecocks walloped Clemson 34-13 as 3.5-point favorites.
Spread vs. Clemson: South Carolina +4.
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Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
ATS record vs. Virginia: 16-9
While the overall numbers are impressive in their own right, “Beamer Ball” has owned the state of Virginia recently.
Since 2004, the Hokies are 8-0 straight up and 7-1 against the spread vs. the Cavaliers, including a 38-0 beatdown as 5-point favorites last year. The only ATS loss for Beamer came in 2008 in a 17-14 win as 7-point favorites. Beamer routinely has no problem getting his team up to play against Virginia even when they’re favored by two touchdowns or more, as will likely be the case again in 2012.
Spread vs. Virginia: Virginia Tech -6.
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Chris Ault, Nevada
ATS record vs. UNLV (since 1989): 12-4
Ault owns this in-state rivalry in the Silver State, and he’s 8-1 straight up and 7-2 against the spread against the Rebels since again taking over control of the football program in 2004, including last year’s 37-0 victory. Since 2006, Ault has won 31-3 (as 3.5-point faves), 27-20 (as 3.5-point faves), 49-27 (as 3.5-poing dogs); and 63-28 (as 6-point faves).
This year’s result: Nevada 42, UNLV 37.