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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

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Fridays With Jerry: Teams Nos. 80-71

Oh, no. This isn't good. Jerry's gotten into the mushrooms again. He's all Technicolor!

Jerry Garcia, late of the Grateful Dead — and the planet Earth — has blessed us with his take on each team previewed thus far on the Countdown. I’ll first list Paul’s prediction, followed by Jerry’s often musically-influenced point of view. You can’t blame Jerry: he’s been singing these songs so long they often slip into his everyday conversation. Do your best to follow; those familiar with the Dead will find the songs pretty easily.

Jerry’s trying to do the math, and it ain’t easy. He’s still lagging Paul’s countdown by seven teams after this week. So by next Friday, he’ll be at No. 61 and Paul will be at No. 57. The following week he’ll be at No. 51 and Paul will be at No. 50. So three more weeks until our lovable axeman will finally be able to catch his breath alongside the Countdown and only do seven teams a week. Phew.

No. 80: Syracuse

Paul I like Syracuse more than most, I imagine. Call me crazy: I think this team is a definite bowl contender. Here’s the bad news: wins will be hard to come by from October on, minus the home date with the Cardinals. Recent Syracuse teams have folded in Big East action; this team, likely 3-1 through September, cannot afford to do so. I like the direction of the program. I think this team is close. Let’s give Marrone one more year to show progress, one more year to continue to add talent to a depleted roster, and the Orange will be bowl bound in 2011. Remember: as Syracuse plays two F.C.S. teams, it will need to win seven games to guarantee a bowl trip.

Jerry Since I’m passing your way today, I just stopped in ‘cuz I want to say: Doug Marrone is a much better coach than Greg Robinson. It’s not even close man. Like comparing a Bob Dylan lyric to one by that guy from Matchbox 20. I don’t know his name, but I don’t like him.

Shakedown Street PSR

No. 79: Marshall

Paul I have a few concerns. There is more to like than not, believe it or not. Talent at wide receiver, for starters. A strong front seven, led by talented weak side linebacker Mario Harvey. I also like Holliday, a longtime assistant with deep, meaningful ties to the region. He’s a superb recruiter — his touch has already been felt in this area — and will quickly insert impressive talent all along the roster. All told, however, I expect a slight step back from Marshall in 2010: a tough schedule won’t help, as the Thundering Herd will be lucky to enter conference action with two wins; three losses is more likely. Let’s predict a five-win mark, with Holliday’s ability to identify and land talent a major reason to believe this program will challenge for East division titles for years to come.

Jerry I said now Doctor, Mr. H.C., can you tell me how this season’s gonna be. And he said, “Good.” Man of few words, that Doc Holliday. Best name in college football though.

Good Lovin’ PSR

No. 78: Baylor

Paul Oklahoma State will assuredly take a sizable step back in 2010, meaning Baylor has its best chance in years to avoid the bottom spot in the Big 12 South. Having said that, I’m not willing to take that leap — yet. I have Baylor tied with Oklahoma State at the bottom of the Big 12 South, yes, but I do think this will end of being one of the best teams in the country not to reach bowl eligibility. Yeah, nice compliment. Barring a complete meltdown, the youth on this team will use this season’s experience to lead the Bears to bowl play in 2011.

Jerry No reason to get excited here, folks. There are many here among us, who think this Baylor season is gonna be a joke. But I like Robert Griffin a lot. He’s lightning man, wooo weee!

All Along the Watchtower PSR

No. 77: Indiana

Paul This offense bears watching. Between Chappell, Willis and the outstanding receiver corps, Indiana will not struggle to score points, particularly against the weaker teams on its schedule. The defense is also the only factor preventing from boldly predicting Indiana to land at least six wins in 2010. I’m hesitant to do so, however, even if I’m higher on this team than most. It still wouldn’t surprise me to see I.U. squeak into the post-season with six wins.

Jerry If I had my way, I would tear the Indiana defense down and start again. Such a shame that the unit might hold down a potent offense and keep the Hoosiers from a bowl game. Lord knows that the Indiana fans need something to cheer for, as their legendary hoops team continues to struggle.

Samson and Deliliah PSR

No. 76: Wyoming

Paul There’s no ignoring this schedule, try as I might. Unfortunately, no team could possibly face a tougher slate over its first eight games than do the Cowboys. The year opens with a laugher against Southern Utah — though Wyoming did scuffle a bit against Weber State last fall — before turning to this murderer’s row: at Texas, at Toledo, at T.C.U. and at B.Y.U.; home for Boise State, Air Force and Utah. Are you kidding me? Wyoming is capable of repeating its 2009 win total. I feel safer projecting the Cowboys to win five games, however, with a hot final month giving this squad the confidence it needs to enter 2011 as a Mountain West contender.

Jerry Wy0ming’s got a hard run, man. Real hard run. When they run around the corner after their first game of the season, they’re gonna run smack into a tree. I don’t see a great season ahead for the Cowboys, my friends. Three wins if you ask me. Which you probably aren’t.

Bertha PSR

No. 75: Idaho

Paul Surprisingly, while I believe the defense far from steady, my largest concern may be with this rebuilt offensive line. If — and it’s a sizable if — Idaho can patch together a line able to keep Enderle clean and open up holes for its deep backfield, the offense may very well again be able to carry this squad to seven wins. I’m going to play it safe: five or six wins, just a touch shy of bowl eligibility. Of course, we all know how playing it safe went for me last summer. Regardless, it’s a statement to the job Akey has done reversing Idaho’s losing culture that a five-win campaign could be construed as a letdown.

Jerry Time to hop on that new Idaho potato caboose friends, ‘cuz the Akey led freight train is going full speed ahead!

No. 74: Maryland

Paul The offensive line is a concern, as is quarterback play — until Robinson can prove he’s capable of holding the starting role. The defensive line will have a new look, as will the secondary. Much depends on the development of last year’s true and redshirt freshmen, as Maryland currently has only nine seniors on its two-deep. This is a far better team, a hungry team, and one very capable of making a four-win improvement on last year’s mark and returning to bowl play. Let’s see if the Terps can send Friedgen out in style.

Jerry I will not forgive you, if you will not take the chance on letting James Franklin coach this team soon. It’s time for Fridge to find greener pastures somewhere. Buffet line? Low blow, I know.

Terrapin Station PSR

No. 73: Mississippi State

Paul Yet there is much to like about these Bulldogs, beginning with a young, energetic coach and continuing with an offense sure to make a sizable improvement in 2010. The defense, better than its numbers indicated in 2009, will be led by an athletic, talented defensive line. This is a better team, a deeper, more experienced team, but I don’t think we’ll see an improvement in the win column. I’m prepared for the vitriol from the M.S.U. fan base. If all goes as planned, Mississippi State will firmly rank among the top 50 teams in the country heading into 2011.

Jerry Comes a time when the blind man takes your hand and says “don’t you see?” I’d like to take your hand, dear reader, and say “Dan Mullen can win in Starkville.” I believe he can.

Comes a Time PSR

No. 72: Toledo

Paul I expect to see the defense improve, thanks to an added year of experience in Beckman’s system. With the money Toledo has put into refurbishing its facilities and the way Beckman has recruited, its only a matter of time before the Rockets are the dominating program in the West division.

Jerry Toledo. A peaceful place, if you look from space. Which is where you’d be if you rode a rocket into the atmosphere. What does that have to do with Toledo’s football team? I guess nothing. But they are the Rockets, and Rockets are cool.

Throwing Stones PSR

No. 71: Wake Forest

Paul Here’s the good news: Grobe always — well, nearly always — delivers. He’s perhaps the best coach in the country at making something out of nothing; this team is far from nothing, for lack of a better word, yet Grobe will have his hands full. I’m giving the Demon Deacons some credit — most are predicting less, I’ve noticed. I think this a borderline bowl team — perhaps six wins, though it won’t be pretty.

Jerry I thought I heard a young man mourn this morning. Thought I heard him mourn today. Guessing it’s because Wake isn’t going to a bowl this year. Gotta give Jim Grobe credit though. The man makes something out of nothing every year which is pretty magical. Just like these mushrooms I’m about to eat.

Morning Dew PSR

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  1. i love friday’s with jerry

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