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How a power outage saved the Super Bowl; plus grades for game, pregame, halftime and commercials; TV record, '14 SB odds, UM leaps 14-8 in polls & more

[1) It is MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Marlins' farm system ranked 16th of 30 in a new rating by ESPN.com. 2) Thanks to all who participated in today's live blog chat. We do it every Monday 1-2 p.m. See post directly below for transcript of today's palaver. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): All Super Bowl Sunday. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

UM hoops No. 8 in nation!: Miami Hurricanes climb 14 to 8 in latest AP ranking, matching UM's highest ranking ever. Canes last were No. 8 on March 1, 1960. 

HOW A POWER OUTAGE SAVED THE SUPER BOWL: The first reaction when the lights went out? Terrorism. Just for a second. That was partly because these are the times we live in now, and partly because the NFL so meticulously scripts everything about a Super Bowl it was impossible to fathom such 1aa1darka major glitch as stadium lights going out and delaying the game more than a half hour. A halftime wardrobe malfunction is an “oops.” This was not an oops. This was a monumental embarrassment. The second reaction was to smile, think parochially and picture members of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee braying laughter. Competition to get this game and its riches is beyond fierce. Folks from other cities surely were high-fiving when Miami hosted the first SB soaked by steady rain in 2007, and in turn this power outage was heaven-sent ammo for any city bidding against New Orleans for a future game. Those reactions recede, though, and this one takes their place: The lights going out was the best thing that could have happened to the Super Bowl last night. Not if intended by design could it have worked any better. Thank you, power outage. The fates that darkened the Superdome rescued millions of Super Bowl parties and gave them new life. The lights going out breathed electricity into the game itself, transforming what was looking like an awful, anticlimactic rout and turning it into one of the most compelling Super Bowls ever. Baltimore had gone up 28-6 when the impossible happened very early in the second half. Party guests from coast to coast were fidgeting and looking at their watches. But the power outage – so bizarre – provided a conversation piece, and a reason to stay. What if the lights never came back on? Would they finish the game Monday morning at Tulane or what? When at last the lights shone, the seemingly powered-up 49ers began surging and made a game of it as the Ravens seemed sapped. The power outage could have been hugely more controversial. Imagine if it had occurred in the middle of Jacoby Jones’ kick-return touchdown or as a scoring pass was in midair and the Harbaugh brothers were then arguing whether the play should stand or be nullified. Imagine if the Ravens had ended up losing and there would have been debate for all-time whether the outage had robbed Baltimore. As it was, what happened turned a bad game great and contributed greatly to last night being what all Super Bowls aspire to be: Memorable.


1aa1cheerThe Game. Grade: A. What more could a fan (well, other than a Niners fan) hope for? Ravens up 28-6, it's looking like a boring, anticlimactic rout, your party guests are fidgeting, then lights go out and San Fran turns on. Baltimore ends up hanging on 34-31 when Ray Lewis has his storybook ending right to the last page -- denying the 49ers a 4th-and-goal play in the final two minutes. Perfect. It was only the seventh SB in 47 to be decided by three points or fewer, and only the second SB (1979) in which both teams topped 30 points. In a word: Electric.

1aa1jazzThe Pregame: Grade C+. The very idea of a pregame show lasting longer than the game is absurd. There were some nice spots, though, such as the warm-n-fuzzy on Patrick Willis' foster family, and the technology piece on helmets/concussions. Dan Marino's involvement, as if nothing had happened, was interesting. One negative for me was the relentless emphasis on all the New Orleans cliches (jazz, gumbo). Just like a Super Bowl here will find the network all over South Beach. C'mon, TV.

1aa1beyonceHalftime Show: Grade B+. Beyonce was sexy and great and filling that stage. What a contrast to a year earlier when we worried old Madonna might trip on those steps. I could have done without the Destiny's Child mini-reunion -- would have much preferred a duet with Jay-Z -- but I know plenty of women in their 20s who were totally into the reunion. Beyonce was terrific. (No lip-synching, either).

1aa1libraryThe Commercials: Grade C-. Sorry, but I think the SB commercial-as-art, as something special that controls the Monday conversation, is dead. The phenomenon is killing itself. This was the first year a vast majority of the ads were purposely leaked over the Internet early, robbing them of the surprise element when they aired Sunday. The two Chrysler ads (Jeep/military and Ram truck/farmers) successfully tugged at heartstrings, but the ads that meant to be funny usually failed. The Paul Rudd/Seth Rogan ad sucked despite a cameo by LeBron James. The only two funny ads that stood out to me were the Taco Bell/old people ad, and the Oreo/library ad win which even a cop with a bullhorn was whispering.

BRONCOS EARLY '14 FAVE, DOLPHINS 50-1: Denver Broncos are early 2014 SB pick at 7-1, according to Bovada, with Patriots/49ers both 15-2, Packers 10-1 and Ravens/Seahawks both 12-1. Dolphins are 50-1, tied for 22nd, below the Jets (40-1) but above the Bills (100-1).

SB SETS RATINGS RECORD: CBS' final national rating for last night's Super Bowl was 46.3 with a 69 share. That is the highest rating isnce the 1986 SB, although last night's average of 108.4 million U.S. viewers was slightly below the two previous games, even excluding the time during the power outage. However, Nielsen says the total number of viewers, 164.1 million, set a record. Not surprisingly, Baltimore (59.6) and New Orleans (57.1) led the way, but San Francisco did not rank in the top 10. Jacksonville (53.3) had the highest rating of major Florida markets, placing 10th overall.  

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