Bowl season full of unexpected suprises

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 4, 2015

I never said I was Nostradamus.

But then again, even Nostradamus couldn’t have predicted this bowl season.

If you read my last column, where I suggested the matchups favored LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State to all pickup victories, then you will understand that huge helping of crow sitting atop my desk.

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“Tis the season to go 3-0 in bowls?” said this guy in the conclusion of that column.

“Uh, more like 0-3 because the SEC stinks,” fired back a pessimistic SEC fan minutes after Georgia Tech defeated Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.

Was it really foolish to predict a 3-0 showing by our teams? Sure, matchups do tend to give an idea about what will transpire in ballgames, but there are certain things you just can’t account for, like LSU channeling the New Orleans Saints’ tackling, like Wallace throwing three first half interceptions (honestly that should have been factored in) or undeniable performances like Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas and Synjyn Day transforming into Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. And then, you know, Alabama lost to an Ohio State team that was down to its third string quarterback, making the SEC West 2-5. Bah Humbug, what a miserable holiday season.

The worst part about LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State losing is it’s only going to get tougher for each to accomplish goals in the SEC West next year.

Arkansas is on the rise, Auburn will continue to climb the ranks by adding Will Muschamp to its staff, Texas A&M will now be a combination of Kevin Sumlin and John Chavis so God help us all, and Alabama, well, Alabama will be dominant as long as Nick Saban is still at the helm.

As for the other three, well, all could take a step back in 2015. Mississippi State will likely lose the most with veteran players moving on to the NFL draft, especially if Benardrick McKinney decides he wants to be a first round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. And if Dak Prescott joins him, well, the Bulldogs could go from first to worst in the SEC West in a hurry.

Ole Miss, on the other hand, will get a lot of its talent back, but ultimately will have to replace Bo Wallace. Love him or hate him, when Wallace was good, he was vital for the Rebels. Make all the jokes you want, but replacing Wallace will be no easy task for Ole Miss.

And then there’s LSU, who has arguably the biggest dilemma. The biggest takeaway this week is the news of LSU defensive coordinator Chavis leaving to go to Texas A&M. Fans wanted the LSU/Texas A&M rivalry to become LSU’s biggest. Well, that’s a good way of pouring lighter fluid on top of an open pit. Although, I’m not so sure it has the same type of impact as Saban leaving to go to Alabama.

Nonetheless, this is a really big deal for the Tigers, because the biggest reason LSU has been so successful the last six years is because of Les Miles and Frank Wilson’s ability to recruit, setting the table for Chavis to game plan and put those great athletes in position to win the game. What good are those athletes without The Chief?

LSU’s system faltered in 2014 when the Tigers proved incapable of developing a quarterback. Because the quarterback position was so suspect, Chavis had to carry the team in a sense, as LSU lived and died by his scheming.

Chavis no longer has to worry about that with Sumlin’s proven resume. Not to mention he’s got a pretty good quarterback in Kyle Allen returning to the Aggies.

So where does the SEC go from here? The conference is reeling from this bowl season, no doubt, but I fully expect Auburn, Alabama and Georgia to be title contenders in 2015.

Hopefully, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss can overcome this rough patch of bad luck and join them.

Forgive me if I’m hesitant to make a bold proclamation about any team at this point.