December 10, 2017

The new Hot Button Top 10: Stanton going-going-GONE leads list, now see what else ranks where; plus who deserves most blame for what Marlins did? Poll. Vote now & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10. It's the holidays! Which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Stanton to Yankees with poll, my column on trade, your verdicts on Gordon trade/faith in Jeter & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My column on Marlins trading Stanton to Yanks: Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It.

Latest NFL picks: Click Week 14 Gems for our predictions on Dolphins-Patriots and the rest.

StantongTHANKS FOR THE MEMORIES, GIANCARLO: [This item and the poll are carried over from previous blogpost] My column that you'd find here focuses on how the no-trade clause given to Stanton by former owner Jeffrey Loria meant Stanton could get the best deal for himself -- and that the Marlins could not get the best deal for the Marlins. The poll below invites Marlins fans to lay blame for Stanton's departure as they see fit. There has to be room for thanks as well, though. You cannot blame Stanton for the contract he got or the no-trade clause he was given. I honestly believe he wanted to stay; it was the Derek Jeter-led new owners who found his contract beyond their means. I trust Marlins fans will show Stanton the love when he returns in pinstripes. For me, he ranks below only Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade as the great team-drafted star in Miami sports history. Farewell, Giancarlo.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 10): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Team trades Stanton, Gordon. Merry Christmas, fans!: Marlins fans were still shaking heads over the team trading Dee Gordon to Seattle when the dreaded bombshell hit on Saturday: Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Miami got Starlin Castro and prospects for Stanton but couldn't get the best deal it was offered because Stanton's no-trade clause gave him ultimate control. Call it Jeffrey Loria's final parting gift. 
 
2. DOLPHINS: Fins try to keep (faint) hope alive vs. Patriots Monday: How did Miami, 5-7 and a playoff longshot, become an NFL also-ran team? Try this: Fins have lost 14 of past 18 night games including all three this season and seven of past eight on Monday stage. Somewhere along the line, folks, your Dolphins turned into the Not Yet Ready For Prime-Time Players.
 
3. HEAT: Miami beat Brooklyn in Mexico City: The Heat faced the Nets in Mexico City on Saturday night -- both teams were able to successfully scale Donald Trump's border wall -- and Miami won, 101-89. Given the disappointing, off-playoff-pace seasons both franchises are having thus far, was this a regularly scheduled game ... or were the two teams deported?
 
4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Six days from start of bowl season: Dec. 15 begins the parade of 41 bowl games culminating with the College Football Playoff national championship Jan. 8. This is first time all three South Florida FBS teams have made the postseason the same year, with Miami in the Orange, FAU in the Boca Raton and FIU in the Gasparilla. Gentlemen, start your bowling!
 
5. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes, OB Classic in spotlight: The unbeaten, 10th-ranked Hurricanes men's team returns to action on the road this coming Saturday, the same day the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic featuring No. 5 Florida vs. Clemson and FSU vs. Oklahoma State happens at the Sunrise arena. It'll be so strange, so different, to see exciting action in the building where the NHL Panthers play.
 
6. BASEBALL: Angels land Japanese sensation Ohtani: Baseball winter meetings in Orlando don't start 'til Monday, but the two biggest prizes already have changed uniforms, with the Yankees landing Miami's Giancarlo Stanton after the Angels won the sweepstakes for Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. He is being called the sport's greatest dual threat since Babe Ruth. No pressure or anything!

7. PANTHERS: No defense for Cats' poor start: Florida is 11-18 after Saturday night's 7-3 home loss to Colorado, is eight points off playoff pace, and has given up the second-most goals in the NHL. Cats are off now on a five-game road trip. Probably just as well. Seeing bad hockey on TV is never quite as bad as enduring it in person.

8. HEISMAN TROPHY: Ho hum. It's Mayfield in a rout: Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won college football's biggest individual prize in a rout Saturday, collecting 82.5 percent of the first-place votes. If he has two more wins in him -- over Georgia, then over Clemson or Alabama -- he'll be lifting another pretty nice little trophy as well.

9. SOCCER: Toronto beats Seattle for MLS Cup: Toronto FC handled Seattle 2-0 in the championship match of Major League Soccer. You know MLS. It's the league David Beckham has been trying to get a Miami team into for about the past 45 years. 

10. TIGER WOODS: Comeback Kid to play Honda Classic?: Tiger Woods is back healthy (for now) and competing again in PGA Tour events. He lives on Jupiter Island in Florida. The Honda Classic is around the corner Feb. 22-25 in Palm Beach Gardens, which is about a 20-mile hop from Jupiter Island. Hmm....

Missing the HB10 cut: Hope Solo is running for president of U.S. Soccer. The preceding sentence would be much bigger news if we dropped the word "soccer" ..... The Cavaliers' winning streak ended at 13 games. See. I told ya that LeBron James guy would never amount to anything! ..... Actual Headlines I Never Thought I'd See, But Did: 'Vending Machine Worker and Season Ticket Holder Dresses For Blues as Emergency Goalie' ..... In football, Army beat Navy for the second straight year. It figures. Army is built to perform best on land ..... Soccer superstar Ronaldo said, "I am the best player in history." OK, Pele and Messi, you have my permission to beat the [bleep] out of him.
 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 09, 2017

Going, going ... GONE! Marlins trade Stanton to Yankees: A farewell, my column and your opinion. New poll. Vote now!

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9. It's the holidays! Which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Gordon with two new polls, NFL Week 14 picks & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New: My column on Marlins trading Stanton to Yankees: Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It to read. Column also is published here, below the poll. Also, click Do We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins? for my previous column, off the Dee Gordon trade.

StantongTHANKS FOR THE MEMORIES, GIANCARLO: My column, now online here, focuses on how the no-trade clause given to Stanton by former owner Jeffrey Loria meant Stanton could get the best deal for himself -- and that the Marlins could not get the best deal for the Marlins. The poll below invites Marlins fans to lay blame for Stanton's departure as they see fit. There has to be room for thanks as well, though. You cannot blame Stanton for the contract he got or the no-trade clause he was given. I honestly believe he wanted to stay; it was the Derek Jeter-led new owners who found his contract beyond their means. I trust Marlins fans will show Stanton the love when he returns in pinstripes. For me, he ranks below only Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade as the great team-drafted star in Miami sports history. Farewell, Giancarlo.

[Stanton-trade poll has been relocated to newer blogpost]

Poll results: You disliked Gordon trade, don't have faith in Jeter: We asked if you liked or disliked the Dee Gordon trade, and it was 80.4 percent "Don't like it." We asked if you trust that Derek Jeter will fix the Marlins and it was 83.3% "No."

STANTON HAD ALL THE POWER -- AND USED IT: MY NEW COLUMN: In the Bronx, Yankees fans are partying like it’s 1927. In South Florida, Marlins fans are stuck feeling the hangover as the reality of this new Derek Jeter-led ownership group kicks in like a boot-toe to the temple. Giancarlo Stanton is headed for pinstripes, joining Aaron Judge to give New York a modern-day Murderer’s Row, shades of that epic ’27 team of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Stanton takes his 59 home runs with him, and the NL MVP award, and what was left of the soul of the Marlins.The new face of the franchise is, by default, that of Jeter, the retired Yankees legend now running the Marlins for new majority owner Bruce Sherman. The face looks different now, though. Jeter is not who we thought he’d be. Can we trust that inscrutable smile? The change has happened fast. This should still be the honeymoon. Spring training hasn’t even started. But, already, Miami fans are wiser now than a couple of months ago, when they cheered Jeter’s arrival and anointment — cheered because Jeter was swathed in success, cheered mainly because of the conviction anybody would be a better owner than the long-loathed and un-dearly departed Jeffrey Loria. We now know that Jeter will be just as unpopular as Loria, though fiscally smarter, and that he doesn’t care what you think.He surely didn’t care that a former Yankees great trading Stanton to his former team would ignite a wildfire of conspiracy theories on social media. Yes, it’s all a grand scheme! “You’re welcome!” says Jeter to the Bronx with a leering smile and a wink. Of course, Miami and Jeter preferred the deals offered by St. Louis and San Francisco, but Stanton invoked his no-trade clause to nix those deals — exercising every bit as much power in this trade process as he did in hitting those 59 homers. But let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory!! Stanton had all the power in this, not the Marlins. That the new owners were hell-bent to dump his contract is what’s sobering. Did you picture Jeter riding in heroically on a white steed, ready to win now, caring about nothing more filling the diamond with talent? Ha. Your naivete is showing. Get real. Trading Stanton to the Yankees, and trading Dee Gordon to Seattle two days before, was zero about the team or winning and everything about dumping payroll, reducing debt and achieving financial stability. Business first, baseball second. Finances first, fans second. This may be bottom-line prudent. This may even work in the long run, the idea of rebooting the franchise from the ground up by regrowing what became a decimated farm system. But that’s also an excuse for frugality, and losing, in the meantime. It is a process that hurts while it happens — hurts like it did Saturday morning when South Florida awoke to the Stanton news. You know how children have their whole lives to prepare for the loss of a parent, to think they are ready for it, but when it comes, it’s still so hard? This isn’t family; it’s only fandom. But the idea is the same. Marlins fans have had a long time to live with the growing assumption-turned-inevitability that Stanton would be traded. But when it happens it still hits like a gut-punch. Losing Stanton the way they did is Loria’s ultimate parting gift to Marlins fans. (Along with grossly overpaying for the likes of Wei-Yin Chen and Martin Prado, bad contracts Miami can’t move, which made divesting of Stanton less an option). Loria gave Stanton the crazy-big contract that was severely back-loaded, and gave him an iron-clad no-trade clause — the only one of those he ever gave. Loria likely knew he’d be gone and that the escalating contract and no-trade clause would be some other owner’s headache. Oh, and it was. The no-trade clause meant the Marlins could not make the best deal for the Marlins. It meant Stanton could make the best deal for Stanton. He had all the power and, just like in hitting all those homers, he used it. Flexed it. The Cardinals offered the Marlins the deal they really wanted. Stanton said nah. The Giants offered a deal Miami liked. Stanton said nope. The Marlins were losing leverage, bleeding leverage, as Stanton narrowed to only four teams he’d be OK with. In effect, he told Jeter, “Make the deal I’m happy with, or be stuck owing me $295 million over the next 10 years.” So the Marlins did the best they could. New York absorbs the bear’s share of that contract and sends Miami all-star second baseman Starlin Castro along with prospects reported to be in the good-not-great category. Miami gets a capable guy to plug in for Gordon. Castro hit .300 last season, with a comparable on-base percentage. He has more power than Gordon, but doesn’t steal bases or bat leadoff or have a great glove. And those added prospects, of course, are a crapshoot. The deal mainly did the one thing the Jeter group most needed it to: Made a huge, onerous contract go away. Now what? Is the payroll slashing done with the Stanton-Gordon quiniela or should Marlins fans still brace for losing Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna or others? We can’t know that yet, but we can know this as Derek Jeter moves forward: Business first, baseball second.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 08, 2017

On Marlins' Gordon trade and on Jeter: Two new polls. Vote now!; plus Dolphins-Patriots, other NFL Week 14 picks & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8. It's the holidays! Which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL QB rankings, state-school FBS bowl games by importance, updated SOPY standings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My new column on Gordon trade, Jeter: Click on Do We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins? to read.

ON MARLINS' GORDON TRADE, YOUR FAITH IN JETER: Dee Gordon (.308, 114 runs, MLB-leading 60 stolen bases) is about the perfect leadoff hitter. He is Seattle's now, after the Marlins traded him Thursday for three Mariners prospects including their No. 1 minor-league pitcher, righty starter Nick Neidert. It was a
Djeter Dgordonway to restock the Fish farm system, which is needed. Mostly it was a salary dump, which the new owners fronted by Derek Jeter say is needed as they begin paring the payroll. Is this the beginning of a dismantling, a.k.a. fire sale? We anticipate and brace for a Giancarlo Stanton trade, but Gordon sort of came out of nowhere. Are Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna also on the block? We can't know for sure and Jeter isn't saying. These are apprehensive times, though, for Marlins fans, who longed for Jeffrey Loria to sell the team but may now be mindful of the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for." I explore in my latest column, which lists some of Jeter's public missteps preceding the Gordon trade. Click Do We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins? to read my opinions. Now it's time for yours. Two quick polls here. One one the Gordon trade, the other on Jeter. Weigh in. Vote now.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 14 PICKS: ON DOLPHINS-PATRIOTS AND EXPLOSION OF UPSETS: I call for a crazy seven betting-line upsets in this week's latest NFL predictions. Unfortunately for Miami, Dolphins beating Patriots Monday night ain't one of 'em. Click Week 14 Gems for my full Fins-Pats predix capsule, my Game of the Week (Rams-Eagles), Upset of the Week (Browns-Packers: "Aawwk!") and all the rest. Our week got off to a strong start Thursday night as we accurately called the Falcons' slight home upset win (+1 1/2) over the Saints to begin our serpentine parade of upset picks.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 07, 2017

Latest Herald NFL QB rankings; plus new 'Back In My Day' video, Saints-Falcons pick, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, state-school FBS bowl games ranked, updated SOPY standings & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Pearl harbor1) It's THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7. On this date in 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, resulting in 1,500 deaths and a declaration of war. 2) R.I.P., Jose Orlando Padron, founder of Miami-based Padron Cigars. 3) It is holiday season, which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins clobber Denver with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Saints-Falcons pick: Click Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Saints-Falcons Thursday night game. There's a (small) upset brewing.

Latest 'Back In My Day' video: Christmas Decorations!: From yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and TV: Click Christmas Decorations to watch.

Our most recent Dolphins, Canes columns: Click Dolphins Find Needed Joy for my column from Sunday's 35-9 Miami home trouncing of Denver. Click Seeing Past the Pain for my column on UM's ACC title game loss to Clemson.

BRADY ON TOP, RIVERS HOT, SIEMIAN DREADFUL / HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 13: The Chargers' Philip Rivers wins his second title in a row in Week Tombrady13 with a 44.20-point game, second-lowest winning total of the season. Meanwhile the Patriots' Tom Brady’s overall season narrows but remains comfortable in the Miami Herald’s NFL quarterback rankings. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler holds steady in 24th place. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. Pictured right: Brady and wife Giselle celebrate his first-place standing in the Herald rankings. [Click HERE to see the NFL rankings online].

RK LW Player, Team                   WK13    Season

1   1   Tom Brady, NE                  26.90    459.55

2   2   Drew Brees, NO                37.45    421.90

3   3   Alex Smith, KC                 35.30    392.95

4   5   Russell Wilson, SEA           34.35    366.80

5   4   Kirk Cousins, WAS              27.55   365.45

6   7   Matthew Stafford, DET      33.60   358.10

7   8   Carson Wentz, PHI            30.40    354.25

8   9   Ben Roethlisberger, PIT     30.50   350.90

9  11  Philip Rivers, LAC              44.20   349.60

10 10 Jared Goff, LAR                 30.00   343.45

11 6   Matt Ryan, ATL                  11.65   341.85

12 13 Case Keenum, MIN             42.35   338.15

13 12 Josh McCown, NYJ             40.55   337.00

14 14 Derek Carr, OAK                30.35   302.55

15 16 Andy Dalton, CIN               23.70   275.30

16 15 Dak Prescott, DAL             16.10   272.60

17 19 Cam Newton, CAR             22.15   263.15

18 22 Blake Bortles, JAC             43.45   260.65

19 20 Joe Flacco, BAL                 34.45   257.20

20 17 Eli Manning, NYG                DNP    250.55

24 24 Jay Cutler, MIA                  21.75   209.85

38 37 Matt Moore, MIA                 DNP      72.05

57t -- David Fales, MIA                -1.00     -1.00

Bubble: Tyrod Taylor, BUF, 244.50. Week 13 Best: Rivers, LAC, 44.20 (31-43, 344, 1-0 in win). Week 13 Worst: Trevor Siemian, DEN, minus-2.00 (19-41, 200, 0-3 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 13 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions Fripix Lobosand with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. WEEK 13: Herald picks: Finally! A big week in a down season! Went a sharp 13-3 straight-up and a solid 10-6 against the spread. Nailed our Upset of the Week with Seahawks over Eagles ("Aawwk!"), hit two other minor upsets with wins by Cowboys and Dolphins, and also had Giants covering. Greg's Lobos: The bad news: Ended regular season with a 143.8 to 104.8 loss to Mina Kimes. We were OK with six in double-figures led by Todd Gurley's 21.8, but Mina was en fuego. The good news: Lobos in the playoffs! We made it, at 7-6, barely, as the No. 8 and last seed. We open playoffs this week vs. No. 1 Chris Cote. Lobos currently are an 11.2-point underdog but we'll fiddle and shrink that, then shock the world. #GoLobosGo

RANKING THE STATE FBS-SCHOOL BOWL GAMES: Great season overall for the state' seven top-tier FBS schools. And what were the odds, heading into this season, that the FSU Seminoles and Florida Gators would be the least of them?: 

Bowls1. Orange Bowl: No. 10 Hurricanes vs. No. 6 Wisconsin, Dec. 30, Miami -- UM's first 10-win season since 2003. But you can't end it, at home, with a third straight loss ... can you?

2. Peach Bowl: No. 12 UCF vs. No. 7 Auburn, Jan. 1, Atlanta -- Well, 12-0 wasn't good enough for the College Football Playoff, so here's the consolation prize for the Knights of Orlando.

3. Birmingham Bowl: South Florida vs. Texas Tech, Dec. 23, Birmingham, Ala. -- Overshadowed by rival UCF but another strong season by the Bulls, who now must navigate their future without departed coach Charlie Strong.

4. Boca Raton Bowl: FAU vs. Akron, Dec. 19, Boca Raton -- Good for Lane Kiffin. Owls already have set school record for season wins with 10, and this would be The Atlantic's first bowl win since 2008. #FoulOwlOnTheProwl

5: Gasparilla Bowl: FIU vs. Temple, Dec. 21, St. Petersburg -- And good for Butch Davis,too, in his first season. Would be only FIU's second bowl win and first since 2010, and would set a school record for season wins with nine.

6. Independence Bowl: Florida State vs. Southern Miss, Dec. 27, Shreveport, La. -- A nothing bowl chasing the Seminoles' worst season since 1976? Marked by the departure of Jimbo Fisher? Seriously. If you are traveling to this game and are not related to or dating an FSU player, God bless you.

7. Oh, wait. Sorry Bowl: Florida Gators vs. Nobody -- No bowl for you, 4-7 UF. And based on the many Gator fans I know, the humbling will do you good.

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 14: BOWL GAMES WILL CROWN SEASON TITLE: [Click HERE to see the latest SOPY standings online] It will come down to the only Sopygames left — the bowl games — to decide the Herald’s 2017 state college Offensive Player of the Year winner. And that will come down to one of two quarterbacks: South Florida’s (and Miami Jackson High’s) Quinton Flowers, whose lead is narrow, or UCF’s McKenzie Milton, who drew close with a big 351-point game on Saturday. The two contenders are safely ahead of third-place Malik Rosier, with FAU running back Devin Singletary close enough to perhaps leapfrog Rosier into third place. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are based on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison even because not all teams have played the same number of games at the same time. Our simple formula awards a half point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown.

SOPY Top 10 entering bowl games

RK LW Player, School-Pos. Average Total points (Games)

1 1 Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb 223.45 2,458 (11)

2 2 McKenzie Milton-UCF qb 220.54 2,646.5 (12)

3 3 Malik Rosier-Miami qb 173.17 2,078 (12)

4 4 Devin Singletary-FAU rb 166.62 2,166 (13)

5 5 Alex McGough-FIU qb 144.63 1,735.5 (12)

6 6 Jason Driskel-FAU qb 109.96 1,429.5 (13)

7 8 Cam Akers-FSU rb 99.13 1,189.5 (12)

8 9 Tre'Quan Smith-UCF rec 99.08 1,189 (12)

9 7 Travis Homer-Miami rb 97.83 1,174 (12)

10 10 Darius Tice-SoFla rb 87.00 957 (11)

Bubble: James Blackman-FSU qb, 85.04. Other team leader: Feleipe Franks-Florida qb, 71.27. Last week’s best: Milton-UCF qb, 351 points. Season best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 383.5 (W13).

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Miami (10-2); 2. UCF (12-0); 3. South Florida (9-2); 4. FAU (10-3); 5. Florida State (6-6); 6. Florida (4-7); 7. FIU (7-4).

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 56.4%; plus Miami clobbers Broncos 35-9 for rare easy win; plus new Hot Button Top 10. Canes' ACC loss, UM-Wisconsin in Orange Bowl, CFP semis on top, but see what else falls where & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 4. Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes get spanked in ACC title game with CSM poll, other State Collball and conference champ-games, your Cooperstown verdict & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Column Dolphins' win over Denver: Click Dolphins Find Needed Joy for my column from Sunday's 35-9 Miami home trouncing of Denver.

Column on Canes' ACC title-game loss: Click Seeing Past the Pain to read. See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 56.4%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 56.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 35-9 Dolphins victory over the Denver Broncos putting Miami's season record at 5-7. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
Next poll: Dec. 11 (following game vs. New England)

G12: DOLPHINS 35, DENVER 9: WELL, SOMEBODY'S LONG LOSING STREAK FINALLY ENDED...: Final: Watch for our column from game online soon ..... 4Q: MIA 35-9: Safety as Bronco tackled in end zone on kickoff return ..... Fins' Verner recovers Miami onside kick ..... MIA 33-9: Cutler-Stills 23-yard pass. Set up by Howard's second INT of game ..... 3Q: Grant 27-yard punt return for Miami as quarter ebbs ..... MIA 26-9: Drake 42-yard run ..... DEN 9-19: Simmons 65-yard interception return, 2-point pass failed .....  And Miami gives the gift right back as Stills loses fumble ..... Big 3rd-down sack by Phillips forces Denver punt, and Fede blocks the kick ..... MIA 19-3: Parkey 37-yard FG. Just when you forget Fasano is still on team, he catches a 29-yard pass to lead to the points .....  Halftime: Halftime tribute honoring Jason Taylor's election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ..... Welp, this is like an offensive onslaught for the low-scoring Fins, although nine points were courtesy the defense. A putrid opponent helps. The Broncos are out-badding the Dolphins ..... 2Q: Cutler intercepted ..... MIA 16-3: Howard 30-yard interception return ..... MIA 9-3: Cutler-Thomas 9-yard TD pass ..... DEN 3-2: McManus 31-yard field goal on 67-yard drive ..... 1Q: MIA 2-0: Safety on Denver bad snap out of end zone ..... McDonald intercepts for Miami. Where the Turnover Chain at? ..... DT Suh 95th straight NFL start today, longest streak in league at that position ..... Penalties big issue for Fins this year. Recall how much pride Shula always took in team not being flagged much. Times have changed ..... Original post: The utter lack of public faith in and respect for the Dolphins shows in the fact Miami opened a negligible 1-point favorite but soon became a 1 1/2-point home underdog as bets flooded toward Denver. Um, that would be a DenmiaDenver team with worse record, on a seven-game losing streak and 0-5 on the road. The Fins’ are on a season-ruining five-game skid of their own, the slump leaving Miami 4-7 to Denver's 3-8, both AFC also-rans. If this matchup were any less watchable it would be banned from television by the FCC. They might not even allow a live audience to watch for fear of mass mental anguish. There are interesting sidelights, though. Dolphins coach Adam Gase was a Denver assistant six years (2009-14) and QB Jay Cutler — starting again after missing one game concussed — began his career a Bronco in 2006-08. Oh, and Denver coach Vance Joseph was Miami’s defensive coordinator last year. But none of these connections are enough to sufficiently hoist this moribund matchup of teams going nowhere and doing very little well. As much as I don’t trust the Dolphins’ offensive line, Miami at home vs. an even-more-dreadful opponent is worth the gamble here. But I still can’t help but think, as I anticipate an epic Trevor Siemien vs. Cutler duel, that this would be a so much more interesting game if the quarterbacks Sunday were John Elway and Dan Marino. I mean them right now. At ages 57 and 56. Playing in business suits and wingtips. My pick: Dolphins, 19-17. [Click Week 13 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 3): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM routed by Clemson for ACC title, Orange Bowl next: Canes and Clemson faced a Saturday night play-in game for one of four spots in the College Football Playoff, with semifinal matchups set on Sunday. UM went in a big underdog and played like it, losing 38-3. Pretty decent consolation prize upcoming, though: Canes in their home stadium for the Orange Bowl game vs. Wisconsin.
 
2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Conference championships shape final CFP foursome: The College Football Playoff announced its final four teams and two semifinal matchups today: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama and No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia. Big loser: Snubbed Ohio State, which thought it should be fourth. Second big loser: Tough draw for top-ranked Clemson, which likely will be underdog vs. 'Bama.
 
3. DOLPHINS: Sad Fins host Denver in moribund matchup: How's this for a weekend contrast, Miami? First your Hurricanes play Clemson for ACC title and spot in college playoffs. And then your Dolphins host Broncos in a duel of hopelessness between teams with a combined 12 straight losses. Hasn't been a dropoff that sharp since Thelma and Louise drove over the cliff.
 
4. SOCCER: 2018 World Cup sets group play: The 32 qualifying nations were drawn into eight four-team groups for next summer's men's tournament in Russia. But I'm still trying to figure something out so maybe you can explain: The United States and Italy failed to qualify but Iceland got in!? Aurora, Colorado has more people than Iceland. Do they play soccer on skates over there?
 
5. MARLINS: Giants, Yankees, others in play for Stanton: I heard the Marlins have now decided to not trade Giancarlo Stanton and that Miami also will spend big to go after Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. And then I woke up from that dream and it was back to reality. With baseball's winter meetings approaching, Stanton is now like one of his home runs: Going, going ... gone!
 
6. HEAT: As Warriors visit, erratic Heat a mystery even to Spo: Miami, .500 last season, is an up-and-down 11-11 now entering Sunday's huge home test against Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and reigning champion Golden State. Coach Erik Spoelstra says even he doesn't know what to make of his team and can't quite figure 'em out. Hey, we're all right there with you, bud!
 
7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes, Kansas win as expected: No. 10-ranked Miami men routed Princeton 80-52 and No. 2 Kansas handled Syracuse 76-60 in the Hoophall Miami Invitational at the Heat arena Saturday. UM game tipped off at same time as Canes-Clemson in Charlotte. Turns out the basketball Canes had a much better game.
 
8. FAU: Owls win C-USA championship: Lane Kiffin's Owls routed visiting North Texas 41-17 to go 10-3 and win Conference USA crown. Oh, and Butch Davis' FIU Panthers whipped UMass 63-45 to end regular season 8-4. Canes didn't take care of business Saturday, but SoFla's other two FBS teams sure did.
 
9. GOLF: Tiger Woods erratic in latest comeback: He opened with an eye-opening 69, but shot 75 on Saturday and is 10 shots off the pace entering the final round of the Hero World Challenge in Nassau -- his first competitive round in 10 months. Be good again, Tiger. Golf needs you.
 
10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream opens winter meet: The venerable Hallandale racetrack opened its winter season Saturday, with upcoming jewel events to include the Florida Derby and second annual Pegasus World Cup. Get out of the casino and watch an actual horse race, would ya? 
 
Missing the HB10 cut: Florida Panthers: We don't even make your HB top 10!? Me: You're 10-16, Cats. How 'bout you win a little? ..... Jimbo Fisher dumps Florida State and follows the big bucks to Texas A&M. Money aside, is that even a lateral move? ..... Tennessee Vols fired the athletic director over the botched football coach search. He got Schiano'd! ..... Cleveland Cavaliers have won 11 games in a row. It's all Dwyane Wade! ..... It's Seattle and Toronto in the Major League Soccer finals. Meantime it feels like we're getting close to the 10-year anniversary of David Beckham's efforts to bring MLS soccer to Miami ..... Jason Taylor was honored for his Hall of Fame election in a private event at the stadium last night. Hopefully they had a TV on for the UM-Clemson game. Come to think of it, maybe better that they didn't.
 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 04, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 57.8%; plus UM spanked 38-3 in ACC final; also, FAU, FIU, UCF win, other State Collball and conference title games (updated), your Cooperstown election verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3. Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Baseball Hall of Fame poll, NFL Week 13 picks & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My new column from Canes' ACC loss: Click on Seeing Past the Pain to read.

'Tis the season to celebrate Canes, FIU, FAU: The Three Kings, Mark Richt, Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin, have led their three teams to the best combined record ever, with all three bowl-bound for the first time. UM and FAU played for conference titles Saturday and Richt and Kiffin have had the loudest seasons, but Davis quietly has done his share at FIU. Click on 'Tis The Season to read the column.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 57.8%: Results are certified in the latest edition of the Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, this in the wake of Saturday night's 38-3 loss by the No. 7 Hurricanes to the No. 1 Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte putting UM's season record at 10-2. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Monday. [You may also find the poll online HERE].
 
2017 CSM results
G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo 
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
G4: 97.6% following 24-20 victory at Florida State
G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech
G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse
G7: 64.3% following 24-19 victory at North Carolina
G8: 98.0% following 28-10 victory vs. Virginia Tech
G9: 98.6% following 41-8 victory vs. Notre Dame
G10: 95.4% following 44-28 victory vs. Virginia
G11: 54.9% following 24-14 loss at Pitt
G12: 57.8% following 38-3 ACC Championship Game loss vs. Clemson
Next: Season/final poll: Dec. 30 following Orange Bowl game vs. Wisconsin
 

MiaclemACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: HURRICANES VS. CLEMSON: HEAVY-UNDERDOG MIAMI MUST SHOCK WORLD TO REACH CFP FINAL FOUR: My new column from Canes' ACC loss: Click on Seeing Past the Pain to read ..... It is UM's biggest football game since the 2002 season ended, bar none. Saturday night at 8, ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, No. 1-ranked and 11-1 Clemson vs. No. 7-ranked and 10-1 Miami in what is all but a play-in game for the College Football Playoff semifinals. It also is UM's first conference title-game appearance since joining the ACC in 2003. A win here would mean the Canes are two wins away from winning the school's sixth national championship and first since '01. No hyperbole is needed to frame this game. All you need are the facts. Alas, Clemson is favored by 9 points -- biggest spread of any Power 5 conference final -- and with valid reason. The Tigers are not only top-ranked but also defending national champs. The bet-line opened at 6 1/2 and climbed. This, clearly, is the gauge-game for whether UM truly is "back" or merely headed in that direction, on the right path. "We'll find out Saturday for sure," as second-year coach Mark Richt put it. "It'll be a great measuring stick to see where we're at." In the words of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, both teams are playing for "a seat at the table" -- the final four. The Hurricanes lead the nation with a plus-17 turnover margin and also lead the country in sacks with an average of 3.55 per game. The Turnover Chain-fueled defense is Miami's strength. But Clemson's D may be even  better. It will be difficult for QB Malik Rosier and RB Travis Homer to bounce back from off-games in the loss at Pitt. Especially because the Canes will be missing two of their top receivers to injuries in Ahmmon Richards and Christopher Herndon. All four Clemson defensive-line starters made 1st- or 2nd-team All-ACC (UM was shut out) and all four will be NFL-bound. UM's inconsistent offensive line will really be under the gun. These teams' most recent meeting, in 2014, was the 58-0 Clemson rout that got Al Golden fired -- the first domino in UM's turnaround. I am concerned for another lopsided game. I've been high on UM all season (called the wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame), but unfortunately I do not have a very good feeling about this game. My ACC Championship Game pick: Clemson, 27-16.

Other state FBS Week 14 games (chronologically, all Saturday):

FIU 63, Massachusetts 45: Butch Davis' Panthers close out regular season at 8-4 to bolster bowl outlook. It was a pick-'em game, betting-wise, so the home rout is all the more impressive.

No. 14 UCF 62, No. 20 Memphis 55 (OT): Knights stay unbeaten at 12-0 after surviving a wild overtime shootout at home to win the American Athletic Association conference championship game.

Florida State 42, Louisiana-Monroe 10: Seminoles were 27-point faves to wrap up uncommonly disappointing regular season with the consolation of .500 at 6-6 as coach Jimbo Fisher bolts for Texas A&M.

FAU 41, North Texas 17: Lane Kiffin's Owls dominated throughout to go to 10-3 and win Conference USA championship. #LaneTrain.

No. 1 Clemson 38, No., 7 Miami 3: My new column from Canes' ACC loss: Click on Seeing Past the Pain to read.

FBS conference championship games (chronologically, all Saturday except as noted):

ConfchampsPac-12: No. 10 Southern Cal 31, No. 12 Stanford 28: USC, now 11-2, was slightly favored in Santa Clara, Calif. on Friday night and delivered, but has no real shot at leaping into final four-team CFP.

American: No. 14 UCF 62, No. 20 Memphis 55 (OT): See above.

Mid-American: Toledo 45, Akron 28: Toledo now 11-2 after comfy win in Detroit.

C-USA: FAU 41, North Texas 17: See above.

Big 12: No. 3 Oklahoma 24, No. 11 Texas Christian 17: Unbeaten Sooners lock up one of final four spots in College Football Playoff.

SEC: No. 6 Georgia 28, Auburn 7: Auburn was slightly favored in Atlanta but it's the Dawgs likely joining the CFP semifinals.

Mountain West: Boise State 17, No. 25 Fresno State 14: Boise was the favorite at home. 

ACC: No. 1 Clemson 38, No. 7 Miami 3: See above.

Big Ten: No. 8 Ohio State 27, No. 4 Wisconsin 21: Wisconsin was unbeaten but Buckeyes were 7-point favorites. But will the win be enough to elevate OSU  into CFP final four?

POLL RESULT: YOU ELECT FIVE TO BASEBALL HALL OF FAME: It was among our most popular blog polls ever, with more than 2,700 electors casting more Chipperthan 22,000 votes. You could vote for as many as 10 players on a 16-man ballot, with a share of 7.5 percent or more in our poll equating to the 75 percent needed for induction into Cooperstown by the actual BBWAA vote. On that basis, the five men you elected were: Chipper Jones 12.24% (pictured), Jim Thome 9.93%, Vladimir Guerrero 8.96% Barry Bonds 8.88% and Roger Clemens 8.46%. The close-but-sorry guys were: Trevor Hoffman 7.41%, Manny Ramirez 6.99%, Edgar Martinez 6.46% and Curt Schilling 6.22%. And the also-rans: Mike Mussina 5.21%, Omar Vizquel 4.66%, Fred McGriff 4.18%, Larry Walker 3.81%, Andruw Jones 3.08%, Scott Rolen 1.99% and Jamie Moyer 1.52%. Thanks for the tremendous response!

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 01, 2017

The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot: You decide who gets in. Poll. Vote now!; plus our new column celebrating UM/FAU/FIU's record season, Dolphins-Broncos and rest of NFL Week 13 picks and the rest & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1. Happy new month, all! 2) Holiday season means only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results, latest SOPY standings & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

'Tis the season to celebrate Canes, FIU, FAU: The Three Kings, Mark Richt, Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin, have led their three teams to the best combined record ever, with all three bowl-bound for the first time. UM and FAU are playing for conference titles Saturday and Richt and Kiffin have had the loudest seasons, but Davis quietly has done his share at FIU. Click on 'Tis The Season to read my latest column.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 13 PICKS: DIVINING DOLPHINS-BRONCOS AND THE REST: Denver at Miami Sunday, featuring two teams on a combined 12-game losing streak, may be so unwatchable it should be banned from TV. Nevertheless, I have a prediction, and it's a (small) upset. Click on Week 13 Gems for my full Dolphins-Broncos predix capsule, my Game of the Week (Panthers-Saints), Upset of the Week (Eagles-Seahawks: "Aawwk!") and all the rest. Our week got off to a fabulous start last night! We not only called the Cowboys' upset of Washington, we foresaw that a heavy dose of Alfred Morris would be the key. He rushed 27 times for 127 yards and a touchdown.

CoopYOUR BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT. VOTE NOW: [Click HERE to see this, and the poll, online] I'm a BBWAA member who just received his Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which is due back by Dec. 31. There are 33 men on the 2018 ballot and voters may select as many as 10. But about two dozen of those 33 guys have no real shot at being elected with the needed 75 percent vote. On this ballot, I have eliminated the chaff and pared to a Sweet 16-- partly because a 33-choice poll would be longer than the Dolphins' playoff odds. So I have winnowed to the best/most viable 16 former players. These include the 10 non-elected players who got at least 20 percent vote last year, and the six first-year ballot guys (noted by asterisk) whom I think have the best chance to be elected as "rookies." The 16 are listed alphabetically. You may vote for as many as ten (10), but vote for only men you believe are Cooperstown-worthy. Important note: Results of this poll will not influence my own official ballot, which I will reveal as I send it in. Ready? Vote! 

 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

 

November 29, 2017

Canes No. 7 in new CFP poll, with my column; plus Tom still Terrific in Herald's latest NFL QB rankings, Week 12 Pix 'n Fantasy results, Bull in charge as SOPY race enters college postseason & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29. See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter result. It still stinks. 2) Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at New England with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Canes No. 7 (as expected) in new CFP poll: Hurricanes -- installed at No. 7 last night in new College Football Playoff ranking -- are the biggest Power 5 conference championship-game underdog as they prepare to face Clemson as 9 1/2-point 'dogs. But that's the bad news and the good news for UM. Click on The Fuel Of Doubt for my newest column.

BRADY EXPANDS SEASON LEAD, RIVERS WINS WEEK / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 12: [Click HERE for the online version of this] The Chargers' Philip Rivers (pictured) wins Week 12 with a 56.70- Priverspoint game on Thanksgiving -- second-best of the season -- while Patriot Tom Brady expands his overall season lead in the Miami Herald’s NFL quarterback rankings. Can anyone catch Tom Terrific? The Saints' Drew Brees is closest, but trails by almost 50 points with five weeks to play. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler holds steady in 24th place despite not playing (concussion), while Matt Moore inches up one spot to 37th. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching.
 
HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / Top 20 plus Dolphins
RK LW Player, Team                Wk12   Season
1   1    Tom Brady, NE               33.35   432.65
2   2    Drew Brees, NO             27.30   384.45
3   3    Alex Smith, KC              19.95   357.65
4   4    Kirk Cousins, WAS          27.10   337.90
5   5    Russell Wilson, SEA        25.40   332.45
6   7    Matt Ryan, ATL              40.85   330.20
7   6    Matthew Stafford, DET   20.50   324.50
8   8    Carson Wentz, PHI         35.35   323.85
9 10  Ben Roethlisberger, PIT  49.55   320.40
10  9   Jared Goff, LAR             38.70   313.45
11 14 Philip Rivers, LAC           56.70   305.40
12 11   Josh McCown, NYJ        26.35   296.45
13 12 Case Keenum, MIN          37.10   295.80
14 16 Derek Carr, OAK             35.65   272.20
15 15 Dak Prescott, DAL           15.55   256.50
16 18 Andy Dalton, CIN           29.70   251.60
17 13 Eli Manning, NYG             1.65   250.55
18 19 Tyrod Taylor, BUF          26.15   244.25
19 17 Cam Newton, CAR          7.40    241.00
20  21 Joe Flacco, BAL            20.05   222.75
24 24 Jay Cutler, MIA               DNP   188.10
37 38 Matt Moore, MIA            19.75     72.05
BubbleMarcus Mariota, TEN, 219.65. Week 12 BestRivers, LAC, 56.70 (27-33, 434, 3-0 in win). Week 12 WorstManning, NYG, 1.65 (13-27, 113, 0-1 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 12 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and Fripix Loboswith my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league.  WEEK 12: Herald picks: Went an OK 10-6 overall in what I think was a fairly easy week, but got clobbered again against the spread, going an embarrassing 5-11 vs. the evil betting line. Had Bills-with-points over Kansas City but not much else to speak of. Here's how tough it can be: I picked Pats to beat Fins 31-17 and Pats won 35-17. Pretty close, right? But not close enough ATS on a 16 1/2-point line. Greg's Lobos: Ouch. Got spanked by Stugotz, 124.9 to 110.8. Put six in double figures but seldom a good thing when your tight end (Kyle Rudolph) is your leading scorer. But the Lobos still are 7-4 and sitting pretty for one of eight playoff spots (tie-4th) with one week left in regular season. Can clinch with a win, or on tiebreaker with a loss. #GoLobosGo

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 13EPIC FLOWERS-MILTON DUEL (ALL BUT) DECIDES SEASON TITLE: Though unbeaten UCF beat South Florida 49-42, Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers outdueled Knights counterpart McKenzie Milton to grow what now seems an insurmountable lead in the Herald's 2017 State Sopy FlowersOffensive Player of the Year race. Flowers (pictured), Miami-born and from Jackson High, had a season-best 383.5-point game to Milton's 272.5. Both are comfortably ahead of third-place Malik Rosier of the Hurricanes. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison even because not all teams have played the same number of games at the same time. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The SOPY race continues beyond the regular season -- through this week's conference-championship games, bowl games and also the CFP playoffs.
 
SOPY Top 10 entering Week 14
RK LW  Player, School-Pos.               Average    Total points (Games)
1    1   Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb       223.45      2,458 (11)
2    2   McKenzie Milton-UCF qb         208.68      2,295.5 (11)
3    3   Malik Rosier-Miami qb            182.18       2,004 (11)
4    4   Devin Singletary-FAU rb          165.00      1,980 (12)
5    5   Alex McGough-FIU qb             132.36       1,456 (11)
6    8   Jason Driskel-FAU qb              106.33       1,276 (12)
7    6   Travis Homer-Miami rb            103.00       1,133 (11)
8    7   Cam Akers-FSU rb                    96.41       1,060.5 (11)
 10   Tre'Quan Smith-UCF rec           92.36        1,016 (11)
10 --    Darius Tice-SoFla rb                 87.00          957 (11)
BubbleAdrian Killins-UCF rb, 86.09. Other team leader: Feleipe Franks-Florida qb, 71.27Week 12 best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 383.5 points. Season best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 383.5 (W13).
Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Miami (10-1); 2. UCF (11-0); 3. South Florida (9-2); 4. Florida State (5-6); 5. FAU (9-3); 6. Florida (4-7); 7. FIU (7-4).
 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

November 28, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 7.7%. Still in the gutter...; plus Miami falls 35-17 at Patriots; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Canes football column & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27. Hope you had wonderful long Thanksgiving Weekend! 2) See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They drop to a season low. 3) Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall at Pitt with CSM poll, other state Collball, NFL Week 12 picks & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Canes' loss: Perspective, please!: Miami losing at Pitt 24-14 Friday was a bad loss terribly timed. No whitewashing that. But 10-1 is 10-1, and a win over Clemson in the ACC title game next week will give UM a fighting chance to still get back up into the College Football Playoff. Click on One Bad Loss Doesn't Spoil All The Good for my latest column.

Our Dolphins-Pats postgame thoughts: Click on Fins Playoff Hopes, R.I.P. for my quick thoughts on Sunday's Miami loss, and to vote in the latest DSM postgame poll online.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 7.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 7.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday Dsmafternoon's 35-17 Dolphins loss at the New England Patriots putting Miami's season record at 4-7. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
Next poll: Dec. 3 (following game vs. Denver)

G11: DOLPHINS AT NEW ENGLAND: LAST CHANCE FOR MIAMI TO PROVE PLAYOFF HOPE ISN'T DEAD: Final thoughts: Realistic playoff hopes had been on life-support. Today we pulled the plug. Dolphins, now 4-7, were beaten all over the field by their long-running-and-still nemesis rival the Patriots. Not much was happening on offense as Matt Moore was sacked seven times and produced only one touchdown (one came via defense). And the defense despite that TD was mostly awful, allowing Tom Brady a 114 passer rating and four TDs and giving up some 200 yards rushing. A dispiriting season continues ..... NE 35-17 (4Q): Brady-Cooks 5-yard pass ..... MIA 17-28 (4Q): Moore-Drake 8-yard pass ..... NE 28-10 (3Q): Brady-Gronkowski 15-yard pass ..... Halftime thoughts: Dolphins defense is not playing well at all (282 yards allowed), but two takeaways including a fumble-return TD by Reshad Jones are keeping Miami (sort of) in the game. Offense is doing very little as usual, and a late end-zone interception by Matt Moore was a killer. It says much about the state of the Dolphins that we imagine many Dolfans are convincing themselves it isn't that bad to be trailing by "only" 11 ..... MIA 10-21 (2Q): Parkey 28-yard field goal ..... NE 21-7 (2Q): Brady-Burkhead 1-yard pass ..... MIA 7-14 (2Q): Jones 14-yard fumble recovery ..... NE 14-0 (1Q): Brady-Gronkowski 5-yard pass ..... NE 7-0 (1Q): Burkhead 2-yard run ..... We'll have live, as-they-happen score updates here throughout today's game, as well as halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the DSM poll ..... Original post: This is close to about as big as NFL point spreads get -- Patriots by 16 1/2 -- but it isn’t Alabama hosting Font of Tears Bible College. This is King Sport, where anybody (except the Browns, of course) can beat 

Mianeanybody if everything bounces just right. Not saying will. But can. And more so in division rivalries. So I give 4-6 Miami a small-to-medium upset shot at the 8-2 Pats. Fins certainly need the win more, as playoff hopes are looking for a pulse. Both of New England’s 2017 losses have been in not-impenetrable Foxborough, by the way, and Tom Brady has been intercepted more times by Miami in his career (21) than anybody else. Pats swept Fins last season, but Miami beat NE at least once each of the three previous years. Also, Patriots’ pass defense is average, and their run defense might be the worst in the league. The point? Miami, a team good enough to have won in Atlanta, is capable of shaking off four consecutive losses with its performance of the year Sunday. And that is even with Matt Moore starting at QB as Jay Cutler nurses a concussion. This belief is why I like the Dolphins with the points, if not quite outright. I think Miami will show some spine and compete hard Sunday. But there is too much talent shortfall — especially between Brady and Moore — to think Miami will win outright at this venue for the first since 2008. The temperature Sunday up there is forecast for the low 30s. So is the Patriots’ point total, alas. My pick: Patriots, 31-17. [Click Week 12 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Stunner! No. 2 Canes suffer first loss, await CFP fate: UM loses Friday at Pitt 24-12 in regular-season finale to fall from unbeaten ranks and now, inevitably, to also fall in next College Football Playoff rankings out Tuesday. Miami now must beat Clemson in ACC championship game this coming Saturday and pray that's enough to climb back into CFP top four.
 
2. DOLPHINS: Fins see playoff hopes (all but) expire in loss at Pats: Miami was NFL week's biggest underdog at New England Sunday as a 4-6 Dolphins team tried to shed a four-game losing streak ... and failed, 35-17. Playoff hopes are now on life support and the priest, Father McGillicutty, has been called into the room. 
 
3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: CFP Selection Committee has its work cut out: Chaos! The weekend left a mess for the College Football Playoff rankings with L's by both No. 1 Alabama and 2-Miami. Best guess Clemson, Oklahoma and Wisconsin in the coveted top four for sure, with a two-loss Auburn also likely in.
 
4. HEAT: Hot(ish) Miami prepares to visit LeBron, D-Wade: Team is 10-9 and on a 3-game win streak after winning Sunday in Chicago, and this should be interesting: Tuesday at LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, a.k.a. Cleveland.
 
5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men face first measuring-stick game: Jim Larranaga's guys are 5-0 and ranked No. 11, but season's first litmus test (and first road game) will be Wednesday at No. 14 Minnesota. Is UM top-10-good or just pretty good? Let's begin to find out.
 
6. MARLINS: Jeter continues untethering his regime from past: Derek Jeter got rid of franchise icons like Jeff Conine and Jack McKeon. Now he's gotten rid of popular longtime broadcaster Rich Waltz. The big Fish, Giancarlo Stanton, remains in the boat ... for now.

7. PANTHERS: Cats need to wake up and get on a run: Florida is 8-14 after Saturday's 4-1 home loss to Chicago, and already eight points off playoff pace in the NHL East. First-year coach Bob Boughner better get something going if he wants to become second-year coach Bob Boughner.

8. UCF KNIGHTS: Orlando team stays unbeaten in epic win: Knights are 11-0 after beating rival South Florida Bulls 49-42 to earn spot in American conference title game as QBs Quinton Flowers and McKenzie Milton combined for 876 yards passing. Meanwhile FSU vs. Florida played a stakes-less, anticlimactic bore. What were the odds? 

9. COOPERSTOWN: Baseball hall releases 33-man ballot: Baseball Hall of Fame's 2108 ballot is out, with Chipper Jones and Jim Thome the likeliest of the first-time nominees. The overriding question: Will steroid-era stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, inching up every year in votes, finally get in?

10. SOCCER: Messi signs record extension with Barcelona: Lionel Messi has signed to stay with FC Barcelona at least through the 2020-21 season, when he will be 34. The record-setting deal includes a $59.6 million signing bonus. Put a soccer ball in that crib, Dad.

Missing the HB10 cut: Is Dale Earnhardt Jr. still retired? ..... Derrick Rose saga has new chapter as he leaves Bulls to reevaluate his NBA future? Easy answer: You don't have one ..... Chip Kelly, new UCLA football coach, becomes latest star college coach to fail in the NFL and go running back to the safe haven of Saturdays.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

November 26, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 54.9% Huge falloff, but positivity remains; plus unbeaten No. 2 UM falls at Pitt 24-14 in regular- season finale, my column on game; also, epic UCF win and other state Collball (updated), NFL Week 12 picks & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Hope y'all had a fantastic and happy Thanksgiving! 2) Holiday season! Give the Dolfan on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Happy Thanksgiving wishes with holiday video, NFL Bird Day picks & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Our Canes-Pitt column: Perspective, please!: Miami losing at Pitt 24-14 Friday was a bad loss, terribly timed. No whitewashing that. But 10-1 is 10-1, and a win over Clemson in the ACC title game next will give UM a fighting chance to get back up into the College Football Playoff. Click on One Bad Loss Doesn't Spoil All The Good for my column.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 54.9%: Results are certified in the latest edition of the Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 54.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 24-14 loss by No. 2-ranked Miami at the Pitt Panthers putting UM's final regular-season record at 10-1 overall and 7-1 in the ACC. That is a drop to a season low. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Sunday. 

 2017 CSM results

G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo 
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
G4: 97.6% following 24-20 victory at Florida State
G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech
G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse
G7: 64.3% following 24-19 victory at North Carolina
G8: 98.0% following 28-10 victory vs. Virginia Tech
G9: 98.6% following 41-8 victory vs. Notre Dame
G10: 95.4% following 44-28 victory vs. Virginia
G11: 54.9% following 24-14 loss at Pitt
Next poll: Dec. 2 following ACC Championship Game vs. Clemson
 
G11: PITT 24, HURRICANES 14: UM'S PERFECT SEASON ENDS IN REGULAR-SEASON FINALE: Click One Bad Loss Doesn't Spoil All The Good for my column on the game ..... MIA 14-24 (4Q/Final): Rosier-Berrios 39-yard pass .....  PIT 24-7 (4Q): Pickett 24-yard run ..... PIT 17-7 (3Q): Pickett-Ollison 5-yard pass ..... Halftime thoughts: Canes have run only 27 offensive plays to Pitt's 38, and have produced zero points off of two Turnover Chain gets. Miami also has been unable to mount a running game thus far. Too soon to worry, though, let alone panic. The Canes are unbeaten because of resilience, and will show it again today in the second half ..... PIT 10-7 (2Q): Pickett 6-yard run ..... MIA 7-3 (2Q): Rosier-Richards 23-yard pass ..... PIT 3-0 (1Q): Kessman 46-yard FG ..... We'll have live, as-they-happen score updates here throughout the game today, as well as halftime and postgame thoughts. Original post: Yes, No. 3 Clemson is on deck for No. 2 Miami in the ACC 

Miapit Miapittitle game in Charlotte -- what looks as of now like a play-in game for the College Football Playoff. We all know it. But the Canes had better not know it -- at least not show it today at Pitt for a noon start in the regular-season finale. The 10-0 Canes look to complete their first unbeaten regular season since 2002 but they need to get undistracted past a 4-7 Pitt team on its Senior Day, with a make-our-season chance to ruin UM's dreams. This is no gimmie. Miami is a modest 12-point favorite, down from an opening 14. The Canes have a nation-leading 15-game win streak dating to last season, but everything crumbles with a loss today. The U theoretically could lose here, beat Clemson for the ACC crown and climb back into the CFP top four, but that's very iffy. Temps in the 40s today should not make a weather a big factor. A solid game from Malik Rosier and more dominance on defense will carry the day. The Turnover Chain has changed hands 19 times in the past five games. If UM keeps it moving today, they win. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-20.

All state FBS Week 13 games (chronologically):

Pitt 24, No. 2 Miami 14: Column, game blog, preview and postgame poll directly above.

No. 15 UCF 49, South Florida 42: UCF stays unbeaten at 11-0 with 49-42 home win over a SoFla team that was 9-1 coming in. The "War on I-4" lived up to and exceeded its billing. Knights advance to the AAC title game and a chance at a major bowl game. If these were two bigger, more established programs people would be calling this one of the greatest games in college football history. Im serious, too.

FIU 41, Western Kentucky 17: WKU was 2.5-point road pick but (as I predicted) Butch Davis' guys bounced back with a nice home win to make it a 7-4 record. 

Florida State 38, Florida 22: Seminoles now 5-6 and Gators 4-7 after a rivalry-renewal that usually has two good teams and big stakes but this year offered hardly anything but the ebbing of two disappointing seasons.

FAU 31, Charlotte 12: Hootin' Owls breezed at home to rise to 9-3 entering next week's C-USA title game. A hugely successful regular season for first-year coach Lane Kiffin.

National Collball Week 13 overview: Four national Top 25 matchups led by the one that has shaken up the College Football Playoff outlook: No. 6 Auburn beating No. 1 Alabama 26-14. The others: No. 3 Clemson beat No. 24 South Carolina 34-10; 21-Stanford upset 8-Notre Dame 38-20; and 18-Washington defeated 13-Washington State 41-14.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: GIVING DOLPHINS A SHOT (OK, HALF A SHOT) AT NEW ENGLAND: I see the Dolphins beating the spread, if not quite the Patriots, on Sunday in New England. Click on Week 12 Gems for my full Dolphins-Patriots predix capsule, my Game of the Week (Saints-Rams), Upset of the Week (Titans-Colts: "Aawwk!") and all the rest. Our week got off to a humbling start yesterday with our Thanksgiving Day picks. We went 1-2 both straight-up and against the spread. Really liked the Lions at home, and the Cowboys let me down big-time. Better luck Sunday, I hope (and Monday).

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote