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17 posts from September 2013

September 30, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 58.2%; plus Miami falls to 3-1 at Saints, 38-17; Heat media day, Lebby goes natty & more

1) It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1. Happy new month, everybody! 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Collball Week 5 roundup, UM routs South Florida, Canesfan Satisfaction Meter & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 58.2%: Results are certified in the latest of our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 58.2 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Monday night's 38-17 loss at New Orleans putting Miami's season 1aa1dsmrecord at 3-1. This actually is a fairly high overall number following a loss, and includes a plurality of 39.4% calling themselves "somewhat" satisfied. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their 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. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:15 a.m. today/Wednesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% satisfaction (20.3 very, 66.2 somewhat) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% satisfaction (71.9 very, 26.9 somewhat) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% satisfaction (78.2 very, 20.8 somewhat) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% satisfaction (18.8 very, 58.2 somewhat) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

Next poll: Oct. 6 following game vs. Baltimore.

G4: DOLPHINS @ NEW ORLEANS: ARE THEY READY-FOR-PRIME-TIME PLAYERS?: Final: Big pic? Can't get too down. Miami is 3-1 at the quarter turn after a road loss to a very good team. Defensive injuries hurt Dolphins tonight, though not as much as four turnovers hurt -- all by Ryan Tannehill. Problem areas beyond the turnovers: Brees made the MIA pass D look just awful. Mike Wallace had his third quiet game in four. And the Dolphins O-line/pass protection continues in serious need of major, immediate improvement. ..... 4Q: Tanny arm hit at release, causing 3rd INT, 4th tunover. Done. ... Too little too late but MIA finally gets a defensive takeaway inside own 10 when Jimmy Wilson strips Sproles of ball. ... Tannehill suffers 2nd INT, 3rd turnover. Fork time. ... Fleur de Lis up 38-17 after a 29-yard FG. Time for Dandy Don Meredith to start singing from the grave. (How creepy would that be!?) ... MIA within 35-17 on Charles Clay 3-yard TD pass from Tannhill. Still need a miracle. ..... 3Q: Cajuns miss FG try! Something goes right for Dolphins! ... OK this is getting embarrassing. Brees' 4th TD pass is 43-yarder to Graham. Chris Clemons didn't have a chance. ... Brees' 3rd TD pass is a 4-yard flip to Ben Watson and Cajuns are in charge at 28-10. Miami needs some deep shots on O and sudden answers on pass-D or this one is done. ..... Half: Two things are killing Miami at the half: Turnovers, both by Tannehill, each have led to Saints points. And Darren Sproles' 7 catches for 114 yards have victimized Miami's defense. Tanny's numbers are fine -- 9-for-13 for 128 yards -- but his INT and lost fumble are the difference. ..... 2Q: NO up 21-10 in final minute of half on Sproles 13-yard scoring catch on 3rd-and-11, thanks to a Nolan Carroll failed gamble on D. More points off turnovers. ... Tanny picked off late in half, his second turnover of game. That's the difference so far. ... Dolphs within 14-10 on Lamar Miller 5-yard scoring jaunt. Marcus Thigpen 50-yard catch and run sets it up. ... N'Awlins up 14-3 on 27-yard Brees strike to ex-Cane Jimmy Graham. Rookie Jamar Taylor with decent coverage, but Graham too tall and the pass too perfect. That's points off a turnover, which Miami absolutely cannot afford tonight. (Also can't give up first down on a 3rd-and-20).  ... Tannehill fumbles, turns ball over on run, ending drive into Saints territory. ...... 1Q: I must say, a fairly encouraging first Q. ... Might have liked to have seen MIA go for there on 4th-and-1 from own 45. Like Jon Gruden said, you're probably going to need to score 30 to be in this game. ... Miami within 7-3 on 34-yard Caleb Sturgis FG but disappointing because Dolphs eschewed a QB sneak on 3rd and inches. You don't hand off six yards deep in that situation. ... Impressive Saints opening drive for 7-0 lead on 4-yard Darren Sprol draw-play TD run. That was the series you worried about if you worried Drew Brees might have a big night. ..... Original post: Miami 3-0 for the first time since 2002 and aiming for its first 4-0 breakout since '95. Drew Brees' Saints also 3-0. The 1aa1dol4 1aa1dolsaintsMonday night stage and the nation watching. Oh my. Easy theme in the Big Easy: Are the Dolphins ready? Are the Dolphins ready at long last to fit this stage and be national players again? We'll see. For now, oh yes, I believe we are ready for some football, thank you! Excitement aside, I'm afraid Dolfans should perhaps be worried tonight. Brees is awfully tough to beat at home and tougher to hold under 300 yards, and Jimmy Graham has the skills to exploit Miami's tendency to struggle against top tight ends. It isn't that I doubt the Dolphins; I think they're a playoff team. It's that Brees at home on a Monday night is a tall, tall order. My pick: Saints, 34-20.

1aa1danrunDAN MARINO'S LEGS: To my attention came this story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about this, the 35th anniversary of Dan Marino's senior season at the city's Central Catholic High. The point of the piece is what a great runner Marino was in high-school, surprising since he never was with the Dolphins during his Hall of Fame career. Marino fans may enjoy the story. Here is a photo of the prep Marino on a TD run -- all the more remarkable because he appears to be missing a foot.

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IT WAS A MAJOR, MANIC, MONSTROUS, MARVELOUS MONDAY IN MIAMI!: (Man, I love alliteration!) It wasn't just the Dolphins last night. Two pretty big South Florida events happened earlier in the day...

1aa1heatmediadayThe Heat's road to a three-peat begins now: The double-champion Miami Heat reconvened in the bayside arena for the first time since the place still had the sweet stink of champagne and confetti on the floor. It was Media Day as the team ceremonially christened the 2013-14 season before jetting off to the Bahamas for a four-day training camp. The highlight: "I want to be the greatest of all-time," said LeBron James -- more directly than ever. Click on Defeating Doubt for my column off Media Day.

1aa1danradioLe Batard goes national: The Dan Le Batard Show on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket went national on ESPN Radio starting yesterday at 4 p.m. The show was canceled at 5:45. OH I'M JUST KIDDING, RELAX! The show was not canceled and will be a big hit despite my occasional on-air involvement. If you heard the national debut, what'd y'all think? Congrats to our buddy Dan!

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September 28, 2013

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.6%; plus UM blasts USF 49-21, Collball Week 5 roundup; Marlins no-hitter & more

1aa1sentinel1) It is SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29. Welcome to the weekly Collball post, consistently our least popular blogpost. 2) The Sun-Sentinel reports today (see right) that the Dolphins will face New England Monday night. This would be a monumental surprise to both teams, and also to the Saints. Hey I make fun of my own newspaper all the time; I'm allowed to jab the competition when warranted! 3) Yahoo! reports Heat finalizing contract extension for coach Erik Spoelstra. Smart move. One less distraction in a season that will have plenty. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron's wristwatch, Dolphins/NFL Week 4 predix, Wade-Durant feud poll, Loria fires Beinfest, LeBatard show update & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Marlins' Alvarez tosses season-ending no-hitter: Marlins end a 62-100 season today with a 1-0 win over a makeshift Tigers lineup on a wild pitch in the ninth, making a no-hit winner of Henderson Alaverez. Call that putting a cheery on top of a pile of s---.

Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes package.

COLLBALL WEEK 5

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show a sesaon-high 97.6 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 49-21 victory at South Florida putting 1aa1csmthe 15th-ranked Hurricanes' season record at 4-0. This is the fifth year for CSM polls in our blog. These are your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction, and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8 a.m. today/Monday.

2013 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 82.9 percent (19.9 very, 63.0 somewhat) following 34-6 victory vs. Florida Atlantic.

G2: 96.7 percent (71.2 very, 25.5 somewhat) following 21-16 victory vs. Florida.

G3: 95.7 percent (77.2 very, 18.5 somewhat) following 77-7 victory vs. Savannah State.

G4: 97.6 percent (67.9 very, 29.7 somewhat) following 49-21 victory at South Florida.

Next poll: Oct. 5 following game vs. Georgia Tech.

G4: No. 15 HURRICANES 49, SOUTH FLORIDA 21: Final: Miami rolled easily, as expected, but QB Stephen Morris left in the second quarter with (another) ankle injury. However it is not believed serious and he is expected to be ready for next week's ACC opener vs. Georgia Tech. Morris had ut up big numbers -- 11-for-16 for 222 yards and two TDs -- before departing. Duke Johnson had a decent day (84 yards rushing and one score) and had a kick-return TD negated by penalty. Original post: First, quickly, I must unburden myself of the continuing aggravation of the geographic abomination that is the University of "South Florida." The Bulls are based in Tampa. That's mid-state! A degree in cartography is not required! USF calling itself South 

1aa1canesbulls Florida makes about as much sense as a team called North Texas being situated near the Mexican 1aa1canes4border. The University of South Florida name should be shamed and boycotted along the lines of "Redskins," the crime here not against a people, but against common sense and a map. OK. I digress. To my larger point! This last non-conference tuneup for UM should not be in doubt because the Hurricanes are really good and the winless Bulls stink. They have lost 12 of 13 dating to last season. So it's time to pad the stats, Al Golden. Unabashedly, and voraciously. The Heisman Trophy hopes of your two reasonable (very) longshot candidates -- QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson -- are dead in the water after three games. The Duke barely has a pulse; Morris is totally off the grid. Neither appears among 12 players getting votes in ESPN's latest Heisman Watch (currently topped by Oregon QB Marcus Montana). Miami had a 77-7 win last week but Morris got hurt and The Duke was underutilized. This is bad. A team steaming toward the Top 10 should have somebody in the Heisman conversation. Nine of 14 teams ranked above UM and three ranked below have a man in the Heisman Watch. It is a wide open year. Tick-tock, Al. Name your score today. As important, let Morris (who should play despite ankle issues) or The Duke have a gigantic afternoon. Or both, if you're in a particularly good mood. My pick was: Miami, 34-16.

Other Week 5 state FBS games:

1aa1cockssteveNo. 12 South Carolina 28, UCF 25: The 3-0 Knights had a sellout crowd and an eye on crashing the Top 25 in what looked like the biggest home game in UCF history. All of this led to the homies being a very trendy upset pick here. But, sorry, I took sage Steve Spurrier coming off a bye week -- and was right, almost right down to the exact score. My pick was: South Carolina, 27-24.

No. 8 Florida State 48, Boston College 34: I had Noles' scoring almost down to the point, but underestimated the tough fight BC would put up (well, at east early). My pick was: FSU, 49-13.

No. 20 Florida 24, Kentucky 7: Gators last lost to Kentucky in 1986, 26 (now 27) games ago. Florida had won the pprevious five by 40.4 points on average. Still, I saw this one closer but figured UF's defense was the difference. My pick was: Florida, 23-17.

Rice 18, FAU 14: Rice is typically half-baked and beatable, but Owls on the road are seldom a risk worth taking. My pick was: Rice, 31-23.

Off this week:

FIU: The Panthers are 0-4 and have been outscored by 187-23. I think the bye week is favored.

Week 5 national Top 25 matchup:

No. 9 Georgia 44, No. 6 LSU 41: Despite the rankings and records I saw the Bulldogs as a slightly better team. That + home = win. I had to right, although defense had very little to do with anything in tis game. My pick was: Georgia, 28-24.

1aa1irishlepNo. 14 Oklahoma 35, No. 22 Notre Dame 21: I thought this would be a very tough environment for inexperienced Sooners QB Blake Bell. I underestimated OU. My pick was: Upset. Notre Dame, 27-20.

No. 1 Alabama 25, No. 21 Ole Miss 0: Nick Saban's offense has sputtered at times, but this was no place for Ole Miss to end a nine-game (now 10) series losing streak. My pick was: Alabama, 34-23.

No. 4 Ohio State 31, No. 23 Wisconsin 24: Buckeyes had padded in on a soft schedule and faced their first real test. I loved Wisconsin's ground game in this matchup, but misfired on the upset. My pick was: Upset. Wisconsin, 31-30.

My record: This week, 7-2; season, 28-7.

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Poll result: Wade-Durant feud a fake ... or is it?: We asked, and 46.9 percent said they thought the Dwyane Wade-Kevin Durant social-media feud was a fake. But 40.7% thought it was real, and another 12.4% were undecided. 

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September 26, 2013

LeBron's wristwatch costs more than a house-*; plus Dolphins/NFL W4 predix, Wade-Durant feud poll, Beinfest firing, Le Batard update & more

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27. Today I'm at Random Evidence Laboratories conjuring Sunday's notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins, Marlins slammed in ESPN franchise rankings, Canes' 1,000 days of hell, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

"Scientists estimate the sun will obliterate the Earth in 2.25 billion years. Appreciate the heads-up!" -- Greg Cote

1aa1lebwatchTHE SPLENDOR OF LEBRON JAMES' WRISTWATCH: I said in the main headline it costs more than a house. (*-OK, more than some houses). It costs $51,500. Not a lot for a house, granted. But a lot for a watch. Yet there was LeBron today in Miami at a lavish event to introduce his new limited line of wristwatches for Audemars Piguet, which I take it is better than Timex and Bulova combined. His line is called the "Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph" and it comes with an 18-karat pink-gold case, oversize Arabic numerals, a gray patterned dial and a crocodile strap. Sure you can spend less than 52K for a watch, but why would you!? Hurry, they only made 600 of these. Click HERE for the full story. The photo of the Heat's bon vivant is by Juan Fernando. The best part about LeBron's expensive, designer wristwatch? He can take one look at it and know instantly it's almost time to win another championship.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 4 PREDIX FOR DOLPHINS, NFL: A confession, Dolfans. I, aparently, am not a 1aa1fripixbeliever. (I think that might make me a heathen). I believe the Dolphins are much improved and pretty good, likely playoffs-good. I just don't believe they can outscore Drew Brees in the Superdome Monday night. Click on Week 4 Gems for my full predix capsules on Dolphins-Saints and every other game. And click on State Of the NFL for my Friday Page column, a by-the-numbers look at how many players every state college has in the league and who the best are. (My week got off to a good start last night. Had the 49ers winning and covering in St. Louis, and they did. Thank you, Frank Gore).

WADE/DURANT FEUD: REAL OR RUSE?: [Update: Wade said last night at a charity function that the feud is not a contrivance. Wait ... isn't that what you'd say even if it was? Hmm]. Most of you know by now that Kevin Durant said in an interview this week that James Harden should replace the Heat's Dwyane Wade in a Sports Illustrated top-10 list of 1aa1dwkdbest NBA players entering this coming season. Wade shot back on Twitter and Instagram saying he'll have to teach Durant some respect ... "again." Durant then replied, "Show me don't tweet me." It's interesting on the face of it because it's rare for one NBA star to call another one out, and Durant was all but saying Wade is overrated. But this little back and forth is even more interesting, to me, if it's fake as some suggest -- a social-media ruse, a setup for a new Gatorade commercial perhaps. I explore all of this in today's latest column, acknowledging the possibility it's fake but also the possibility it's real. Click on WADE VS. DURANT to read. (This is the updated version of the column, replacing the earlier version that unfortunately appears in print). I suggest the larger point that, either way, real or fake, this invites us to consider whether Wade, turning 32 in January, remains an elite/top-10 player, and to also consider his sensitivity to any doubts about that. Meantime, do you believe this feud is real or fake? Vote and say why.

ON LORIA'S FIRING OF BEINFEST: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria dropped the guillotine on president of 1aa1beinbaseball ops Larry Beinfest this afternoon, not the least bit surprising. Suspicious as I am of just about anything Loria does, I cannot say Beinfest (pictured) built a record over his 12 seasons to suggest the change is unwarranted. He deserves some credit for the 2003 championship and for drafting Jose Fernandez in 2011. Those are nice bookends. But there was an awful lot of failure and bad draft picks elsewhere. The problem now? Convincing ourselves Loria will A) make a smart hire to replace Beinfest, then B) stay the hell out of his way.

ESPN PRESS RELEASE INDICATES I'M GOING NATIONAL WITH LE BATARD: The Dan Le Batard Show goes national on ESPN Radio this Monday at 4 p.m. The show will air Monday-through-Friday from 3-4 p.m. 1aa1eradioonly on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket, and then 4-7 nationally (and still locally, of course). ESPN has removed 'with Stugotz' from the show's title, but he's still the intrepid co-host. An ESPN press release says, "Rotating guest co-hosts, including Bomani Jones and Greg Cote, will often join Le Batard and Stugotz to provide listeners with a slightly different experience every day." This is the first time my name has appeared in an official report not associated with the police. Being a "rotating guest co-host" sounds dizzying. ESPN Radio has 24 million listeners on 450 stations, numbers expected to decline immediately following every appearance by me. The Le Batard Show will have an after-party at Whiskey Tango on Monday following the national debut.

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September 24, 2013

Dolphins, Marlins slammed in ESPN franchise rankings; plus Heat, Canes' 1,000 Days of Hell, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Falcons to go 3-0, DSM poll & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Yeah, mon! Heat in Bahamas: Champions announce they'll hold four-day training camp Oct. 1-4 at Atlantic Paradise Island Resort, Bahamas. Hmm. Will the Gatorade buckets be filled with pina coladas?

"You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows." -- Bob Dylan

ESPN SAYS HEAT IS OK, BUT DOLPHINS, MARLINS NOT SO MUCH: ESPN The Magazine's new 11th annual overall Franchise Rankings rate the 122 NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL teams in order based on eight categories. They slot the Heat 25th overall, Panthers 82nd, Dolphins 97th and Marlins 120th, ahead of only the New York Jets and Sacramento Kings. That's a bad showing for Miami. Thought Heat would/should be higher based on back-to-back titles alone. Can't argue Cats' rank much, but Dolphins must be disappointed and Marlins should be simply embarrassed. I will say the credibility of the entire project is cast in question by the Memphis Grizzlies being ranked No. 1 overall. I mean, seriously? In 12 seasons they have won nothing, not even reaching the NBA Finals. Anyway, the eight categories are title track, ownership, coaching, players, fan relations, affordability, stadium experience and overall bang for the buck. Here is a synopsis on how our four teams fared. How do y'all feel about the order and the rankings?

1aa1heatlogoHeat: 25th (5th in NBA) -- Team ranked no higher than 14th overall in any one category, slotting there in three: fan relations, ownership and players. Low rank was 59th in affordability. But how could Heat be ranked only 20th in title track?

1aa1flapantherslogoPanthers: 82nd (24th in NHL) -- The skating Cats' highest rank was 45th in affordability. Low mark was 111th in overall bang for buck. Hmm. Anybody else think it's a bit weird to rate high in one but low in the other?

1aa1dolphinslogoDolphins: 97th (25th in NFL) -- Dolphins rated in the upper half of not a single category, with a high rank of 65th in bang for buck. Low grade was 109th in stadium experience. (See there, state legislature!?)

1aa1marlinslogoMarlins: 120th (30th in MLB) -- Team is highest, 51st, in title track, not a bad category to call your best. Low was 122nd -- dead last -- in ownership. No surprise (thanks, Jeffrey), but am surprised rank is only 103rd in stadium experience.

THE HURRICANES' "1,000 DAYS OF HELL": Canes football is unbeaten and 15th-ranked but the cloud is still there. I estimate we can put it at around 1,000 days now that Miami has been under 1aa1bjamesinvestigation by the NCAA -- since it first was contacted by Nevin Shapiro in late 2010 -- and still with no final verdict. The long delay has become almost as absurd as the NCAA's botched, corrupted investigation. I explore all of this and speak with UM athletic director Blake James (pictured) in my latest column. Click 1,000 Days to read, and thanks for making it the most-read thing in all of MiamiHerald.com/Sports.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 3: Dismal marries Abysmal, they have a child named Crap. NFL predix: 1aa1fripix We were an awful 7-9 overall (good Lord!) and 6-9-1 against the spread (Titans pushed). Not much went right, although we did have Dolphins winning and had Colts-with-points over 49ers. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos fell to 1-2 with a 119-99 loss. Had seven players in double figures but never a good sign when your leading scorer has only 15 (Tom Brady). Did I mention that I sat Sidney "24 Points" Rice? Next week, please.

SOPY 'STATE HEISMAN' RANKINGS / WEEK 4: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the most productive 1aa1jaqjohnquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Because our rankings are cumulative players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles is the current leader; second-place Jaquez Johnson of FAU is pictured. 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. Our 2013 standings entering Week 5:

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk4=Year

1 (1)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb               BYE = 485

2 (7)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb          224.5 = 476      

3 (4)     Jamesis Winston, FSU-qb          97 = 463

4 (2)     Marcus Shaw, USF-rb                BYE = 451

5 (3)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb             BYE = 392

6 (5)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb            65 = 372

7 (--)     Devonta Freeman, FSU-rb        118 = 296

8 (6)     Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb              16.5 = 294.5

9 (9)     Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr                 89 = 283

10 (--)   Jonathan Wallace, FAU-rb         95 = 279

Bubble: Mack Brown, Florida-rb, 245. FIU leader: T.J. Lowder-wr, 175. Note: FAU and FIU have played four games, all others three.

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

WELL HERE'S THE SCARIEST HEADLINE I'VE SEEN ALL DAY: Click here. (Thank goodness for adoption or an argument for forced sterilization, I'm not sure which...)

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September 22, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 99.0% (record); plus Dolphins 27, Atlanta 23; Tannehill leads winning late drive as Miami remains unbeaten at 3-0!

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 243. Heat signed Larry Drew II, former UCLA point guard and son of the current Milwaukee Bucks coach. 2) Click on Random Evidence for latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whip Savannah State, CSM poll, Collball Week 4 roundup, my Philly mea culpa & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: See results of latest CSM poll in blogpost directly below this.

Click on Ryan Comes Of Age for my column off Sunday's Dolphins win. This team matters again, and Ryan Tannehill is why.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 99.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a record 99.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 27-23 victory over the visiting Atlanta Falcons putting Miami's season record at 3-0. That includes 78.2% who call themselves "very" satisfied. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their 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. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% satisfaction (20.3 very, 66.2 somewhat) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% satisfaction (71.9 very, 26.9 somewhat) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% satisfaction (78.2 very, 20.8 somewhat) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

Next poll: Sept. 30 following game at New Orleans.

G3: ATLANTA @ DOLPHINS: TIME FOR MIAMI, DOLFANS TO MAKE A STAND -- Final: The Dolphins are relevant again because Ryan Tannehill has made them so. Click on Ryan Comes Of Age for my column off the game. Beating a good team when you don't play a great game is a nice sign for Miami. ..... 4Q: Jimmy Wilson interception with 26 seconds left clinches it. ... Dion Sims 1-yard TD pass from Tannehille with 38 seconds left and 27-23 Dolphins lead. ... Bryant wide right on 35-yard try with 4:46 left in regulation. Big miss. ... Bryant 33-yard FG has ATL back up 23-20 with 11:39 to play. ..... 3Q: Miami ties it 20-20 in final minute of 3rd on Tanny 18-yard strike into end zone to Brian Hartline. Was set by up special-team fumble recovery at ATL 19. Don Jones jarred ball loose with huge hit and John Denney recovered. ... Tannehill is intercepted from Atlanta 35 on ball that glances off Charles Clay's fingertips. Missed chance; drove started at 50. ... A smart red flag. Ball was trapped. And sho nuff catch is overruled. ... ... MIA within 20-13 on Sturgis 50-yard FG. Even with the make, though, wonder if Dolphs should have gone for it on 3rd-and-1 from the Falcs 32. ... ATL now up 20-10 after 2-yard TD throw from Matt Ryan to Levine Toilolo. (Levine Toilolo!) Tannehill fumbled on a sack at Miami 12 to hand-deliver the score, helped by Nolan Carroll pass interference in end zone. ..... Half: I'd say Dolphins are thrilled to be only down 13-10 at half and that ATL is oppositely concerned, considering Falcons' domination. Time of possession favors Falcs by a ridiculous 22:48 to 7:12, and Miami has allowed 15 first down. Need to get off field defensively and sustain a drive our two. ..... 2Q: Caleb Sturgis 46-yard FG on half's final play has MIA within 13-10. ... Dion Jordan big 3rd-down stop forces Falcs to settle for 20-yard FG and 13-7 lead. ... Dolphins defense is being gouged. Tanny might need to put up 30 the way this game is going. ... Not good: Cam Wake on a staionary bike instead of on the field. ... MIA within 10-7 on Daniel Thomas 5-yard scoring run. Lamar Miller 49-yard burst and gorgeous 3rd-down Tanny to Brandon Gibson completion led the way. ... Matt Bryant 52-yard FG for 10-0 lead. ..... 1Q: Miserable first quarter for Miami. Fans just about zero to cheer so far. ... Sack and punt end Miami's opening drive. Not the start you envision for your home opener. ... Wow, MIA defense just got hammered and handled on an 80-yard, 14-play, near-9-minute opening drive. Matt Ryan 7-yard shovel pass to Jason Snelling finished it for a 7-0 Falcs lead. ..... Pregame: Pressbox calamity! I must say: the elimination of the pressbox popcorn machine has my mood grayer than the sky. The sky has since cleared, but I continue to mourn the void of my comforting snack. ... Light rain falling. (I guess I didn't really need the word "falling" there, did I?). ... No surprises on inactives list, which confirms DT Paul Soliai won't play today. ..... Original post: The Dolphins have piqued curiosity with a 2-0 start forged on the road. They have become a little bit of a talking point in the national media, all of the chatter in the "are they for real?" context. Today's 48th franchise home opener 1aa1aaa3 1aa1atlmiaanswers that, either with a resounding yes or with the question (and doubts) still lingering. Beating a very good Falcons team would announce these Dolphins as real -- as playoff-caliber. Dolfans also are on stage as the club tries to reestablish a home-field advantage. Miami has been only 36-44 at home over the previous 10 seasons, hardly an advantage at all. The quarterback duel will be an interesting subtext today. Matt Ryan, of course, is the QB Miami could have drafted No. 1 overall in 2008, but took tackle Jake Long instead, with Ryan going third overall to Atlanta. Ryan Tannehill outpitching Ryan today would in some way (at least symbolically) justify that earlier decision. Both team have fought injury issues this week, including Tannehill's shoulder, but Falcons RB Steven Jackson is the only prominent starter definitely out. My pick: Dolphins, 24-20.

1aa1shula50HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, DON SHULA!: It was 50 years ago today, Sept. 22, 1963 (exactly two months before JFK was assassinated), that Don Shula achieved his first career coaching victory in what would end up as a record-setting number. His Baltimore Colts beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-14 in low-60s temps at Kezar Stadium in the season's second game, led by Johnny Unitas' 288 passing yards. Thanks to reader Fred Linger for the tip, and for the image of the game program from that day.

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September 21, 2013

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.7%; plus Collball Week 4. UM romps 77-7, Driskel out for year, FIU smacked & more

1) It is SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins/NFL Week 3 predix, Wade on Leno, Panthers changing owners (Yo Vinnie), Canes giving 60, Kerr doubts Heat & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: New poll right here, just below. 

COLLBALL WEEK 4

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: Results are now certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show the number holding steady at 95.7 percent in the wake of Saturday night's 77-7 home victory over Savannah State putting No. 16 1aa1csmMiami's season record at 3-0. That includes a season-high 77.2% calling themselves "very" satisfied. This is the fifth year for CSM polls in our blog. These are your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction, and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Monday.

2013 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 82.9 percent (19.9 very, 63.0 somewhat) following 34-6 victory vs. Florida Atlantic.

G2: 96.7 percent (71.2 very, 25.5 somewhat) following 21-16 victory vs. Florida.

G3: 95.7 percent (77.2 very, 18.5 somewhat) following 77-7 victory vs. Savannah State.

Next poll: Sept. 28 following game at South Florida.

College football has marched from the excitement of Opening Week to Canes-Gators to Saban-Manziel to ... this. Week 4 is Weak 4, relatively speaking. Nevertheless, the blog's Collball Roundup sallies on!

G3: NO. 16 MIAMI 77, SAVANNAH STATE 7. MORRIS INJURED IN ROUT: Not much to say about a score like this. The biggest news is QB Stephen Morris' ankle injury that shortened his night, although it does not seem to be real serious. A member of the Canes football staff texted me last night a "worst case scenario" that Morris could miss next week's game vs. winless USF but be ready for the ACC opener. A perfunctory win last night. But they covered! ..... Original post: OK so the point spread is only 60 and the only reason to think Miami won't cover is indifference, by which I mean not wanting to win by that much. The Canes could, but I doubt they will. Who knows how long 1aa1aa3 1aa1canessvast1 1aa1canessvanstStephen Morris, Duke Johnson and the front-line stars will even play? (Enough to pad stats, then defer to the underlings is the likely answer). I also doubt that Al Golden, from Temple, remember, will try to rub it in the weeping face of an obviously overmatched opponent. Savannah State football is known for two things: 1) Shannon Sharpe. 2) Volunteering itself as a punching bag for the money. Eight FBS games this week have 40-plus spreads, and our state is involved in three, with Miami and Florida State on the right side and FIU not. By the way: Off last week, now Savannah State, then winless South Florida on deck ... has UM ever had a more relaxing three-week stretch? I'll have another pina colada, please! My pick was: Miami, 56-0.

Other Week 4 state FBS games:

1aa1bridgetNo. 7 Louisville 72, FIU 0 -- Like the above mismatch, we thought this, too, could get really ugly really fast. (But maybe not this ugly!) FIU, now 0-4, is reeling, with new coach Ron Turner bailing water, and top-10 L-ville was looking to pad Teddy Bridgewater's passing stats with Mr. Heisman in mind. Teddy is pictured, perhaps dreaming of today's four TD passes. My pick was: Louisville, 52-7.

Middle Tennessee 42, FAU 35 (OT) -- Owls tie it in last seconds of regulation, but for naught. I'd noted that Middle Tennessee brought a modestly better team to this Conference USA duel, but I went all homer and took The Team The Pipe Built. Had Mid-Tenn originally and switched. That hurts. My pick was: Upset. FAU, 27-24.

No. 19 Florida 31, Tennessee 17 -- Vols are not the power they occasionally are, and I thought Gators, coming off a bye and in The Swamp, should have their way. QB Jeff Driskel was lost for the season with an ankle injury. Tyler Murphy came in and played ably, but, still, that's a big blow for UF. My pick was: Florida, 31-17 (Exact score!).

No. 8 Florida State 54, Bethune-Cookman 6 -- B-Cook just had its way with FIU but faced a real FBS team this time in top-10 FSU. Was not fathoming an upset at The Doak. My pick was: FSU, 42-14.

Off this week:

UCF: Knights 3-0 after upset of Penn State and knocking on poll doors with a big chance to barge in, hosting No. 12 South Carolina next.

South Florida: Bulls are down at 0-3 and hosting No. 16 Miami next. Ouch.

Week 4 national Top 25 matchup:

No. 5 Stanford 42, No. 23 Arizona State 28 -- Week's only T25 head-to-head was no Alabama-Texas A&M but we take what is offered. Stanford was on an 8-1 run in home games against ranked opponents so was a good play. My pick was: Stanford, 34-27.

My record: This week, 5-1; season, 21-5.

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MY PHILLY MEA CULPA: I wrote something in Thursday's paper that made a lot of people very mad, and merits an explanation (in addition to my individual response to e-mailers). I have seldom seen a greater disconnect beween how I meant for something to be read and how it was read. That's on me. The offending sentence appeared in my NFL predictions capsule for the Chiefs-Eagles game. I wrote: "Philly fans would boo a wounded soldier trying to save save a cancer-stricken boy from a burning building..." I meant to needle the reputation of Philadelphia sports fans with an exaggerated example a bit more creative than "would boo Santa Claus." In mentioning a soldier and a sick child I obviously was citing the last people on Earth who would ever deserve to be booed. Or so I thought. But many readers, including dozens who wrote me, most very angrily, felt I was making light of wounded soldiers and sick kids. This was never my intention, of course. But what I wrote offended many, and that's on me, too. To the offended, I apologize and bank a lesson learned.

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September 19, 2013

Dolphins/NFL Week 3 predix; plus Tannehill's climb, Wade/Leno video, Yo Vinnie! The new Panthers, Canes trail by 60, your verdict on me & more

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20. Today I am at Random Evidence Laboratories birthing the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Me-on-Le Batard-show poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Dolphins ranking, prep pipeline to pros, latest SOPY rankings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Updated Super Bowl odds: From Bovada entering NFL Week 3, we see Broncos (4-1) and Seahawks (11-2) separating themselves, with 49ers now third at 8-1. Dolphins title odds have improved to 33-1, from 40-1.

1aa1dolqbRyan Tannehill's increasing challenges: Beating Brandon Weeden's Browns was nothing. Beating Andrew Luck's Colts was bigger. Now, with the Falcons on deck and then the Saints, QB Ryan Tannheill has a chance to establish himself further while also chasing away two old Dolphins ghosts. Matt Ryan and Drew Brees were the two guys Miami could have had. Now Tannehill faces both for the first time, back to back. Click on Tannehill's Climb for my column.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 3 PREDIX FOR DOLPHINS, NFL: The Dolphins will raise smiles in Sunday's home 1aacote2opener by beating Atlanta, presuming Tannehill (sore shoulder) is good to go. This feels like an upset but isn't. But this is: Pittsburgh over Chicago in my "Aawwk!" Click on Week 3 Gems for the details and full prediction capsules on these and all NFL games. And click on Building A Home-Field Advantage for my Friday Page column on the Dolphins' attempts to make home games special again. I blew last night's game. Had Eagles covering but they got run over by Andy Reid.

WADE ON LENO TALKS TITLE, GABRIELLE, LEBRON WEDDING: Heat's Dwyane Wade on Jay Leno last 1aa1dwlenonight (click HERE for the video) talked about the repeat championship, about fatherhood, and (without much info) about attending LeBron's wedding. Most interesting was his admitting he and girlfriend/actress Gabrielle Union "kind of took a step back" in their relationshiop but have gotten back together and, "We're going strong now." Leno never would have asked about that without Wade approving or perhaps even suggesting it, so it tells you Dwyane wanted it out there.

YO, VINNIE! NHL PANTHERS CHANGING OWNERS: Interesting dynamic with our four major pro-sports owners down here. Heat's Micky Arison, Dolphins' Steve Ross and Marlins' Jeffrey Loria all are very high 1aa1catsownerprofile -- Arison for success, Loria for notoriety and Ross somewhere in between. The hockey Panthers' various owners have barely had any local Q rating at all. I'd like to help change that with the Cats' pending new owner, Vinnie Viola, because I love his name. Vinnie is pictured. (Oh come on, play along!) I think a team with an owner named Vinnie Viola should adopt a "family" atmosphere. I suggest a Machine Gun Night, although, for propriety's sake, no bullets, please. Red Wings fans threw octupi on the ice; Cats fans could throw horse's heads. The new marketing theme: "Buy Season Tickets ... Or Else!" I like Florida's chances to get back in the playoffs under this new owner, especially because the opposing teams' leading scorer and goalie keep mysteriously incurring broken limbs just before the puck drops. [Note: The preceding exploits ethnic stereotypes and therefore may be in poor taste. The good news? It's no worse than when I did something similar when the Dolphins hired Tony Sparano].

BETTING CANES THIS WEEK? UM TRAILS BY 60 POINTS AT KICKOFF. YES, 60!: The little Savannah State Tigers have a habit of giving up tons of points. They mustn't recruit defensive players. They have already 1aa1savstgiven up 77 and 66 in games this season. Oklahoma State rang up 84 on 'em last year. So Saturday's game at Miami finds the line galloping from an opening 55 points to a current 60 -- third-biggest college line ever, says Pregame.com. The game is mostly off the board, meaning no bets at major Las Vegas sports books. But where you do find it playable, UM is giving more than eight TDs. Wagering rule of 1aa1mahjonggthumb: Take the 60 points, take any opponent getting 60, I don't care if it's my mother's Mah Jongg group (pictured). Aside to NCAA: Big programs should be allowed their cupcake or two, sure, but mismatches of this degree embarrass the sport. On a brighter note, things look up for Savannah State after UM. In their next game they are only an early 11-point underog to mom's Mah Jongg ladies.

Poll result: You love me! Well, OK, you sort of like me...: I asked in the previous blogpost if you thought I should continue as a part of the Le Batard radio show when it goes national. Extracting the 13.6 percent who don't listen, my rating was running about 4-to-1 favorable, with 69.6% saying yes (enjoy my appearances) and 16.8% saying no (think I'm not very good at radio). Thanks to all!

KERR DOUBTS HEAT: Analyst Steve Kerr predicts Miami will not win a third straight NBA championship, 1aa1kerrswhich might merit points for boldness except that hardly anybody wins three straight titles. Kerr, of course, is most noted for spending his NBA career riding Michael Jordan's coattails and devaluing the championship ring by having five of them (3 Bulls, 2 Spurs) but being an incidental passenger on all of them. If Kerr's current voice were commensurate with his playing career he would not be allowed to have opinions, let alone share them aloud.

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September 17, 2013

Should I continue on Le Batard's radio show? Self-absorbed poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated SOPY rankings & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Colts, DSM poll result & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

Heady days for Dolphins, Hurricanes: Hard to believe, but in 48 shared seasons since 1966 this week marks only the fourth time the Dolphins and Canes both have been 2-0 and preparing for a home game the same weekend. I explore the state of both teams and the outlook for each in this new column.

SHOULD I BE ON LE BATARD'S RADIO SHOW WHEN IT GOES NATIONAL?: I must ask your indulgence with this. We've been writing the blog since 2005 and polls have been a staple for almost as long, and I 1aa1espnradiothink this is the first poll about, well ... about me. Dan Le Batard actually 1aa1mesuggested it. I've been his Tuesday co-host on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket for about a year now, and his show goes national on ESPN (still airing locally, of course) 1aa1theticketaround Oct. 1. I think Dan wants me to continue with him but has reservations if I'll play nationally. I think I'd like to keep doing it but am not entirely sure (the new studio is much farther from me). So I invite the opinion of readers who listen to the show either locally or by podcast and have heard enough of me to have an opinion. Should I continue doing it or not? This is a boutique poll of limited interest, perhaps, but please forgive me that. And having the poll in my own blog may skew favorably, but I'm not so sure. I do invite your honesty. Vote and say why.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 2: Bonanza! Solid week all the way around. Whoooo! NFL predix: We were 1aa1fripixa nifty 13-3 overall on our Week 2 Friday Page predictions, and a solid 9-6-1 (Atlanta 1aa1hosscpushed) against the spread. We nailed outright upsets by the Dolphins, Bills and Cardinals. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos got even at 1-1 with a 136-115 triumph. I got 30 points from Dez Bryant (I don't care what your mother does, Dez) and 22 from the Seahawks' defense.

DOLPHINS NO. 12 IN NEW ESPN RANKINGS: That's up five from a week ago. Twelve teams make the playoffs, of course. Consensus building that Dolphins are playoff-likely and maybe top-10 material. Heady stuff  Sense the estimation is fragile, though. Must beat Atlanta Sunday to maintain the vibe. 

AQUINAS, NORLAND TOP NFL PIPELINES: It's boom time for local high school football and this reflects that: Miami Norland and St. Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale lead the nation's high schools with six current NFL players each. Norland's are Antwan Barnes (NYJ), Dwayne Bowe (KC), Antonio Brown (PIT), Lester Jean (Hou), Xavier Rhodes (MIN) and Tourek Williams (SD). Aquinas' are Geno Atkins (CIN, Giovani Bernard (CIN), Marcus Gilbert (PIT), Leonard Hankerson (WAS), Major Wright (CHI) and Sam Young (BUF).

SOPY 'STATE HEISMAN' RANKINGS / WEEK 3: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the most productive 1aa1bbortlesquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Miami's Duke Johnson slips a bit this week because our rankings are cumulative so players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. Current leader Blake Bortles is pictured. 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. Our 2013 standings entering Week 4:

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk2=Year

1 (1)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb               167 = 485

2 (3)     Marcus Shaw, USF-rb                159 = 451

3 (5)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb             133 = 392

4 (6)     Jamesis Winston, FSU-qb*         133 = 366 

5 (2)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb*           BYE = 307

6 (4)     Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb*             BYE = 278

7 (B)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb          110 = 251.5      

8 (7)     Rannell Hall, UCF-wr                  43 = 234

9 (--)     Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr*               100 = 194

10 (--)   J.J. Worton, UCF-wr                  107  = 193

Bubble: Breshad Perriman, UCF-wr, 187. FIU leader: T.J. Lowder, wr, 175. Note: Players for Miami, Florida and FSU have played one fewer game than others.

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

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September 15, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 98.8%; plus Dolphins 24, Indianapolis 20. Miami 2-0 as Tannehill out-duels Luck, makes Wallace happy

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17. Click on Random Evidence for yesterday's latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Collball Week 3 roundup, Nick Saban smiles, big day for (most) state teams & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 98.8%: Results are now certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a robust 98.8 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 24-20 victory at Indianapolis 1aa1dsmmaking Miami's season record 2-0. That includes a stout 71.9% calling themselves "very" satisfied. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their 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. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% satisfaction (20.3 very, 66.2 somewhat) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% satisfaction (71.9 very, 26.9 somewhat) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

Next poll: Sept. 22 following game vs. Atlanta. 

G2: DOLPHINS 24, INDIANAPOLIS 20: TANNEHILL LEADS BIG ROAD WIN: Final: MIA 2-0 after big road win today and the simplest way to put is that Ryan Tannehill outplayed Andrew Luck. Tanny went 23-for-34 for 319 yards with a TD and no picks, for a 107.4 rating. Dolphs limited Luck to a 79.7 rating, holding him in check in the second half including a big stop late in the game. Miami's defense bent all day (giving up 448 yards) but held when it counted. Good signs offensively beyond the QB, with Mike Wallace 9-for-115, Charles Clay 5-for-109, and RBs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas combining for 99 yards on 22 carries. Big day for Miami. ..... 4Q: Dolphins defense denies Luck on fourth down! Win at hand! ... Brent Grimes has position in front of Reggie Wayne for a big end-zone INT. Any such play at this point could be a game-saver. ... Miami gives ball over when first down on 4th-and-1 play is overturned on review. ..... 3Q: MIA back up 24-20 on 1-yard TD run by (huh?) TE Charles Clay, on his first career carry. Score set up by Wallace's 34-yard catch to the 1. ... Dolphins punt again. ... Bizzare sequence. Turnover by Miami on controversial ruling that makesa fumble of an apparent forward pass. Then a successful red-flag challenge by Joe Philbin negates a play to the 1. Then a Colts TD pass is negated by an illegal-shift penalty. Then Nags settle for 38-yard FG and 20-17 lead. ..... Half: The good news first: Tannehill an efficient 13-for-21 for 209 yards and a TD, including 96 yards on three passes to Charles Clay and Mike Wallace at 7-for-70. The bad news: Pass defense has given up 242 yards to Luck including 124 on six catches by FIU's Hilton. Also, running game still negligible for Miami, with Miller 6-for-34. Second half Rx: A lot more pressure on Luck. Miami has only one sack and no other QB hits so far. ..... 2Q: Ice this! Indy ices rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis, who calmly drills 54-yard tying FG on second try to end half. ... Indy up for first time 17-14 just before half on Ahmad Bradshaw 1-yard run. Killer play was T.Y. Hilton's 46-yard catch over Brent Grimes. ... Brian Hartline big 24-yard third-down catch, but series still ends in game's first punt. ... Indy within 14-10 on Coby Fleener 3-yard TD flip from Andrew Luck. Reshad Jones late on the coverge in corner of end zone. ..... 1Q: Audible number of Dolphins fans in Indy. ... At 14-3, MIA, this is the offense Dolfans have dreamed about. Charles Clay 67-yard pass play sets up 10-yard Lamar Miller scoring run. ... Indy within 7-3 on 30-yard FG, after Chris Clemons tips away pass into end zone. ... Miami 7-0 on Ryan Tannehill 18-yard TD pass to Mike wallace. Wallace, agter last week's complaint, catches 3 balls in row including the score. They're using Wallace out of the slot, not wide. Interesting ... Colts bonk a 52-yard FG try off left upright to end game's first drive. ..... Original post: When there are only 16 games every one of them changes the context in which a team and season is viewed. That is particularly true 1aa1dolcolt 1aa1a2with the Dolphins, who have been mediocre for so long that any optimism on the part of Dolfans is naturally fragile. We have become the Show Me state. That's the framework for why today is so important. Beating the lowly 1aa1dolcolt2Browns was nice; this is a bigger challenge. At 2-0 after another win, Dolfans would be moving closer to being genuinely, solidly excited about this team. But at 1-1 after a loss I think more of a "here we go again" pall would settle across the fandom. Am I wrong? An interesting subtext to every MIA-IND game henceforth will be Ryan Tannehill vs. Andrew Luck (they are pictured). Last year's draft made them natural, career-long rivals, with Luck cast as the star Tannehill must chase to catch. Colts a narrow favorite today but I have a hunch about this one. Unlike last week I think Miami remembered to pack its running game for this trip. Think the Dolphins pass rush will bother Luck. And I think Tannehill will make Mike Wallace happy this time (!). My pick was: Upset. Dolphins, 24-23.

1aa1hallzachZach Thomas has an outside shot: Former Dolphins Zach Thomas, Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain are among 16 first-time eligibles under consideration for 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. The two cornerbacks have zero shot, realistically, but Zach could be interesting. No way for him on the first ballot and long odds to ever get in, but with time and lobbying, I give him a fighting chance.

Fun Fact (actually, not that much fun): This is only the 11th time in 48 franchise years that Miami has begun a season with consecutive road games. And only the second time (along with 2010) since 1988.

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September 14, 2013

Collball Week 3: Saban has last laugh on Manziel; plus Canes/Gators off but plenty to see; big day for state (except FIU)

1aa1awed1) It is SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Happy wedding day-after, LeBron James! I have 1aa1fonduea beautiful fondue pot waiting for you and Savannah back in Miami. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron wedding details, Dolphins/NFL Week 2 predix, Marlins' overreaction to Jose, Beasley poll, obit from hell & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

COLLBALL WEEK 3

The Miami Hurricanes, newly ensconced at No. 15 in the polls, and the Florida Gators both are off this week, so we take the opportunity to lead the Collball roundup with the Game of the Year. Sorry, Noles and FIU. You're here, but a bit further down...

NO. 1 ALABAMA 49, NO. 6 TEXAS A&M 42: Neither team remembered to bring along a defense, but you must give Team Saban and Team Manziel credit. They ut on quite a show. The Game of the Year hype lived up. ..... Original post: This is too delicious. The matchup and context are enough to make it shine with Game of the Year cred: Top-ranked Crimson Tide out to avenge last 1aa1ala1year's only loss, but needing to do so in the sonic chaos of College Station. But the game's two overriding personalities are what make this game must-see of course: Nick Saban vs. Johnny Manziel (pictured). 1aa1ala3 1aa1ala2Don't you wish it were possible for both teams to lose? To see a crestfallen Saban sullen on his postgame trudge? To see some of the noxious cocky knocked from Manziel? It is well beyond South Florida that dislike for Saban may be found, and dislike for "Johnny Football" also is national. (CBS today only grows the nauseating over-coverage of Manziel with a "Johnny Cam" trained solely on the A&M quarterback. And I'm sure the over/under on sideline shots of Saban would be, say, 20.5). Bottom line: Saban is the best coach in this game and has the best team. And he is 15-2 in his career in avenging loss. The 9.5-point underdog role insults the Aggies, though. It'll be close. Curious where your rooting interest is, or, in this case, perhaps it's who you'll most be rooting against? My pick was: Alabama, 30-24. 

Week 3 state FBS games:

No. 10 Florida State 62, Nevada 7 -- You could argue that games with 35-point betting lines are games that really should not be played at all. An impress-the-polls day for Noles. My pick was: FSU, 47-10.

1aa1bethuneBethune-Cookman 34, FIU 13 -- Oh my. I'm beginning to wonder if first-year coach Ron Turner will even survive the season with hair-trigger AD Pete Garcia. ..... Original post: Fascinating to watch the bet-line move on this one. FIU, a bigger school from a bigger conference and home, started out by rote as a slight favorite. Soon there was such a huge swing of money on Bethune-Cookman that B-C is now the pick by 3.5 points. They're begging you to take FIU. This is sad. Can't vouch for this game but can tell you the Btheun band will make halftime worth the rpice of admission. The game? That presents a classic question: Can a really solid smaller team beat a lesser big team? Wish I had a different answer in this case. My pick was: Bethune, 23-18.

UCF 34, Penn State 31 -- I gave the Knights an upset shot but thought Happy Valley (even though it stopped being all that happy) was too tough a venue. Instead, UCF's first win over a Big Ten school. My pick was: Penn State, 27-20.

FAU 24, USF 10 -- OWL POWER! The Bulls were nobody to be favored by 12 points but I didn't think they were this bad. Big roadie for FAU. . My pick was: USF, 24-17.

Off this week:

Miami: No. 15 Canes host Savannah State next and then visit USF so figure to be 4-0 (and possibly top-10) when they open ACC schedule vs. Georgia Tech.

Florida: No. 18 Gators open SEC schedule next week vs. Tennessee.

Week 3 national Top 25 matchups:

Alabama-Texas A&M (See above).

No. 16 UCLA 42, No. 23 Nebraska 21 -- Huskers lost to Bruins in L.A. last year. Well,  they did it again. At home. Blowing an 18-point lead. My pick was: Nebraska, 37-31.

My record: This week, 3-3; season, 16-4.

GOT SOPY?: Back for a second season is our State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) ranking, a weekly Top 10 of the most productive quarterbacks, runners and receivers from state's seven FBS schools. UCF QB Blake Bortles and Canes RB Duke Johnson are 1-2 entering Week 3. Follow along all season in the blog.

Poll result: Happy to have Beasley, but with reservations: We asked in previous blogpost (you may still vote), and 62.7 percent said they were pleased the Heat reacquired Michael Beasley. However 20.2% said no and 17.1% were undecided.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...