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18 posts from November 2013

November 29, 2013

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 78.0%; plus UM thumps Pitt 41-31, 'Bama loses, FAU tops FIU, Incognito, NFL Week 13 picks & more

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1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30. Hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My turkey soup recipe is below. (Click on the image at right for the disturbing animated version). 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Thanksgiving Special, Bird Day NFL picks, Bullygate Thanksgiving video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

1aa1incogSignificant Bullygate update: The Dolphins and suspended bully Richie Incognito reached an agreement to extend Incognito's team suspension with pay. This is significant. It positions Miami to reinstate Incognito if the findings of Ted Wells' NFL investigation make that plausible from a public relations standpoint. It had earlier been reported Incognito would never again play for Miami. Well, that no longer seems nearly as certain.

COLLBALL WEEK 14

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: Results are in on the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 78.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 41-31 victory at Pittsburgh putting Mami's final 1aa1csmregular-season record at 9-3 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. That is UM's highest CSM rating since Week 6. (This is not the season-ending CSM poll; we'll have a final one after the bowl game). This is the fifth year for these polls in our blog. They 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, season as a whole, program's direction, and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Sunday.

2013 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 82.9% (19.9-very, 63.0-somewhat) following 34-6 victory vs. FAU.

G2: 96.7% (71.2-v, 25.5-s) following 21-16 victory vs. Florida.

G3: 95.7% (77.2-v, 18.5-s) following 77-7 victory vs. Savannah State.

G4: 97.6% (67.9-v, 29.7-s) following 49-21 victory at South Florida.

G5: 95.8% (60.4-v, 35.4-s) following 45-30 victory vs. Georgia Tech.

G6: 82.3% (41.8-v, 40.5-s) following 27-23 victory at North Carolina.

G7: 68.4% (31.2-v, 37.2-s) following 24-21 victory vs. Wake Forest.

G8: 65.7% (28.5-v, 37.2-s) following 41-14 loss at Florida State.

G9: 15.1% (4.7-v, 10.4-s) following 42-24 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

G10: 5.7% (2.5-v, 3.2-s) following 48-30 loss at Duke.

G11: 51.1% (6.2-v, 44.9-s) following 45-26 victory vs. Virginia.

G12: 78.0% (21.9-v, 56.1-s) following 41-31 victory at Pitt.

Next/Final poll: Following bowl game, date TBD

G12: HURRICANES @ PITT: Final: The bad news? UM's defense was spotty, especially against the run. The good news? Everything  else. Stephen Morris threw for almost 300 yards, Stacy Coley had three long TD plays totaling 139 yards, and Allen Hurns had nine catches for 173 yards to cap a terrific regular season for him. With the win bowl-bound Miami still had a chance to sneak into the ACC title game vs. FSU, but that ended when Duke won Saturday. ..... Halftime: The Stacy Coley Show, starring Stacy Coley. TD passes of 32 and 34 yards and a 73-yard TD run are about all you need to know of Miami's easy first half and comfy lead. The scary thing? Coley should have four TDs; he dropped a perfect pass in the end zone. ..... Original post: National television on ABC. Freezing-cold weather. Regular-
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1aa1caneshelmetseason finales with bowl positioning in play. Lots to like about today's Canes at Pittsburgh game. For 8-3 Miami, a narrow favorite, a win also could see The U creep back up into the polls and keep slim ACC title-game hopes alive. Panthers are 6-5, pretty good, but Canes should win if Stephen Morris masters the conditions and turnovers are not a factor. (Admittedly, a lot to ask). The Hurricanes, with a win, are projected to meet either Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta) or Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando). That means Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater, so UM had better pack its pass defense for the trip. But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Beat Pitt today, or the bowl stakes shrink. My pick was: Miami, 28-24.

Other Week 14 state FBS games, chronologically:

FAU 21, FIU 6: The annual rivalry for the Don Shula Trophy was more of a Nightmare Bowl this year. FIU was a miserable 1-10. FAU had lost its head coach to a drug-related scandal around midseason -- but rallied and became bowl-eligible today. Remember: You can't spell "bowl" with "OWL"! My pick was: FAU, 37-13.

No. 19 UCF 23, USF 20: The Knights are rolling to an AAC title and major BCS bowl game and wouldn't be stopped by the ornery Bulls, but this one took a late escape. My pick was: UCF, 28-7.

No. 2 Florida State 37, Florida 7: Was this where we were supposed to pretend that the rivalry and home field and pride and all that good stuff would somehow turn this into a competitive game? I wouldn't bet on it. Jameis Winston,under investigation in a sexual assault case, calls the field his "sanctuary" and continues to thrive despite the distraction. Was close for a long while, but then the FSU offensive dam burst as you knew it would. My pick was: FSU, 41-14.

Week 14 national Top 25 matchups (all Saturday):

No. 4 Auburn 34, No. 1 Alabama 28: Iron Bowl was the Game of the Week and fittingly ended with a thrill, a 106-yard Auburn TD return of a missed field goal. Nick Saban out-coached himself to lose another shot at a national title. My pick was: Alabama, 31-21.

No. 10 South Carolina, 31, No. 6 Clemson 17: This was first time in 111 meetings both had been top-10 as both Tigers and 'Cocks angled for a BCS bowl. My pick was: Upset. Clemson, 27-24.

No. 8 Stanford 27, No. 25 Notre Dame 20: Stanford drive to a Rose Bowl wouldn't be derailed by the Irish. My pick was: Stanford, 27-21 (one point from an exact score).

No. 5 Missouri 28, No. 21 Texas A&M 21: Mizzou needed the win for the SEC East title and got it at home. Johnny Manziel is now 0-4 against ranked teams this year. My pick was: Missouri, 38-31.

No. 22 UCLA 35, No. 23 Southern Cal 14: USC had won five straight this season under Ed Orgeron, and seven in a row at home in this rivalry. My pick was: Southern Cal, 27-20.

My record: This week, 6-3; season, 79-27.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 13 NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS BEAT STINKIN' JETS: Dolphins a slight underdog at 1aa1fripixJets Sunday but Geno Smith will find a way to see a Miami victory. Rivals might both be 5-6 but don't let the haters tell you it isn't a big game. Winner will still have a decent shot at an AFC wild-card playoff berth. Click on Week 13 Gems for full prediction capsules on the Dolphins and all other games, and on Outlook Cloudy for my NFL notes column, leading with the playoff picture. My week got off to a decent start with the Thanksgiving Day tripleheader; I went 2-1 straight-up and the same against the spread.

SAVE THE CARCASS! GREG'S TURKEY SOUP RECIPE: (Photo of soup taken on my kitchen counter, 2:45 p.m. Friday) To make stock, submerge turkey carcass in 3 1aa1gregsoupquarts water. Rough-chop and add a handful each of celery, onion and carrots. Add 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and teaspoon Cajun seasoning. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer at least 1 hour. Strain and reserve stock. Pick remaining meat from carcass and add to pot, along with 2 cups chopped leftover turkey, 1 cup of diced onion, 1 cup diced celery, 1/2 cup fined-diced carrots and 1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning. Add 1 1/2 cups uncooked ditalini (white rice may be substituted). Stir, simmer until pasta is done. Stir in handful of fried onion crumbles, and S&P to taste. Serve. (Good now, better reheated tomorrow). Enjoy!

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November 28, 2013

Thank you, readers! NFL Bird Day picks and a special Bullygate Thanksgiving video from me to you

[1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill poll, sub-human Knockout Game, Brian the Dog, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Heat-Pacers inevitability, the Eagles, SOPY rankings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

1aa1hapthanksHAPPY THANKSGIVING, ALL!: Everybody is busy today (hopefully not too busy to swing by the blog!), but I want to take a moment to thank you all. Just that. Thanks. I want to thank my long-time readers in the newspaper and online, and of course those who helped make our blog a success when we started this venture back in September 2005. You are the No. 1 blog community at MiamiHerald.com, and I am honored that you have invited me to play a small role in your lives. Trust that you all, collectively, play a big role in mine. Thanks again, and have a wonderful holiday!

OUR BIRD DAY NFL PICKS: In the eighth year of the NFL Thanksgiving tripleheader, I see on the plate three close games and one upset. Lions edge Pack but don't cover. Cowboys feast but Raiders keep it inside a big line. And Steelers pull the upset in Baltimore. Click on Bird Day Gems for the three complete predix capsules, including a Cote Thanksgiving Timeline.

Poll result: Faith in Ryan Tannehill is shaky: We asked in the previous blogpost what the Dolphins' QB would be in three years and most said a solid starter (34.8 percent) or a marginal starter (30.6%). Only 8.0% said a star. Other votes were "gone" (8.4%), "reserve" (7.5%) or undecided/too soon to say (6.7%).

1aa1bully13BULLYGATE THANKSGIVING: A HOLIDAY VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: Pictured clockwise from upper left are me, Dolphins coach Joe "The Pilgrim" Philbin, Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. I'd like to thank all three men for taking time from their busy schedules to help make this video. Click on A Bullygate Thanksgiving to watch.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

November 25, 2013

What is your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Vote!; plus sub-human 'Knockout Game', NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Brian the Dog, the Eagles, SOPY & more

1aa1briandeath1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27. Happy Hanukkah to all our Jewish friends. 2) I am shocked and dismayed that TV's Family Guy would kill Brian the Dog (pictured), my favorite erudite cartoon animal of all-time. Still hoping it's a Beatles/Paul-is-dead styled hoax. 3 In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Carolina, DSM & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

"What the hell!? I thought this was supposed to be a sports blog!" Well, it is. Mostly. And usually. But occasionally real life intervenes...

1aa1dolqbA REFERENDUM ON RYAN TANNEHILL: The Dolphins' young quarterback is now 27 games into his NFL career. This might be too soon for hard conclusions, but it is not too soon for opinions to be forming, and setting, like wet cement turning by degrees to stone. You know the Dolphins' offense has struggled, but how much of that is on Tannehill? What is your faith in him moving forward? This poll may provide a glimpse of our collective opinion. Vote and say why.

AWFUL 'KNOCKOUT GAME' AN EXTENSION OF AMERICA'S GLORIFYING OF VIOLENCE: If you haven't yet heard of the so-called "Knockout Game," it will disturb you. Or should, anyway. In the "game,"
1aa1kogamesomeone comes up to an innocent, unsuspecting victim and sucker-punches him or her with the violent intention of knocking them unconcious -- just for fun. For fun. Victims have included the elderly. Deaths have been reported. It is an awful, sub-human trend in crime. Click here for a general backgrounder, and here for the perspective of BlackAmericaWeb.com, which says the "game" has its roots among urban African-American youth. I read this quote from Chuck Williams, a Drexel University psychology professor and expert on youth crime: "We market violence to our children and we wonder why they're violent." He's so right, of course. There are video games that outrageously make sport of violence and killing. There are sports themselves -- I'm thinking UFC -- that are just short of barbaric. Am I blaming mixed martials arts for the Knockout Game? No. But there is at least a subliminal link between a society that cheers UFC and a society whose children make a sport of punching someone into submission. What's the point of even denying it?

'Knockout Game' news update: I have been made aware, because of this blog item, that a class-action lawsuit is pending against the makers of the video game Grand Theft Auto V, over claims the video depicts and encourages 'knockout' crimes. (Click here for a GTAV tutorial on how game players can best utilize a knockout punch).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 12: LOBOS WIN! LOBOS WIN!: Been a long season, folks, so yes is I do 1aa1fripixexaggerate the good news. NFL predix: Went only 7-6-1 overall but a solid 8-5-1 against the spread, including outright upset calls on Pats over Broncos ("Aawwk!"), Titans over Raiders and Steelers over Browns, plus Bucs and Chargers with points. Why can't I do that every week! Fantasy: Greg's Lobos finally won again! It was 151-128 with five guys scoring in the 20s to end a Texans-esque nine-game losing streak and improve to 2-10.

1aa1indmiaFAST FORWARD TO HEAT-PACERS, PLEASE: With Chicago's Derrick Rose out for the season (again) and Brooklyn a shambles, can we just fast-forward to a Heat-Pacers Eastern finals, please? A lot of air just went out of this NBA regular season for me. The only question is who gets the No. 1 seed, and right now Indiana seems hell-bent to have it. (Apropos of nothing, click HERE for a well-made Samsung video on LeBron James. I say well-made because it starts out with some nice publicity for the Miami Herald. Yee-uhh.   

1aa1eaglesAN HOMAGE TO THE EAGLES: We saw the Eagles perform the other night at the Heat arena (Pat Riley was there), and I'm happy to say the name of their latest tour, The History of the Eagles, is apt. Anyone who has followed this band since its 1970s heydays will enjoy the chronology of the concert. It begins with just co-founders Don Henley and Glenn Frey on stage, acoustically recalling the band's origin. The stage is gradually populated in order, ending with crowd favorite Joe Walsh. There were a few lesser-known cuts but mostly the show sticks to the greatest hits. The sold-out crowd ate it up. For me, any discussion of Greatest American Bands must start with the Beach Boys, Eagles and Springsteen's E Street Band. Then I might swoop in with the Greateful Dead and Pearl Jam. Who'd make your top five in the category?

SOPY RANKINGS: WEEK 13: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player 1aa1sopyof the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. The current leader, FSU QB Jameis Winston, already has surpassed that total. 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 14: 

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk13=Year

1 (1)     Jameis Winston, FSU-qb            117.5 = 1,917.5

2 (2)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb                181.5 = 1,709.5

3 (3)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb            257.5 = 1,641

4 (4)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb           119 = 1,394

5 (5)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb              99 = 1,220

6 (7)     Devonta Freeman, FSU-rb         141 = 1,104

7 (6)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb             DNP = 1,051

8 (9)     Allen Hurns, Miami-wr                 132 = 1,014

9 (8)     Rashad Greene, FSU-wr             29 = 952

10 (--)   Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr                  119 = 858

Bubble: Rannell Hall, UCF-wr, 822. Other team leaders: USF--Marcus Shaw-rb, 770; Florida--Tyler Murphy-qb, 723; FIU--Lamarq Caldwell-rb, 603. Note: UCF and USF have played 10 games, all others 11 each.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. FSU (11-0); 2. UCF (9-1); 3. Miami (8-3); 4. FAU (5-6); 5. Florida (4-7); 6. USF (2-8); 7. FIU (1-10).

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November 24, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 7.8%; plus Miami falls late to Carolina 20-16, and to 5-6

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Click on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Dolphins. 2) My mind keeps saying don't worry about the Heat. My gut worries about a team at home that struggles to barely beat Orlando. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whip Virginia, CSM poll, Gators fall again, Collball Week 13 roundup & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: Results are in, show a sharp spike. Navigate to the previous blogpost for latest results.

Click on The Little Team That Couldn't for my column off yesterday's Dolphins loss.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 7.8 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 20-16 loss to visiting Carolina putting the Dolphins' season record at 5- 1aadsm6. 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, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% (20.3-v, 66.2-s) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% (71.9-v, 26.9-s) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% (78.2-v, 20.8-s) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% (18.8-v, 39.4-s) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

G5: 33.5% (4.3-v, 29.2-s) following 26-23 loss vs. Baltimore.

G6: 6.5% (3.8-v, 2.7-s) following 23-21 loss to Buffalo.

G7: 4.7% (3.0-v, 1.7-s) following 27-17 loss at New England.

G8: 50.3% (8.2-v, 42.1-s) following 22-20 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

G9: 4.7% (3.6-v, 1.1-s) following 22-19 loss at Tampa Bay.

G10: 42.4% (7.2-v, 35.2-s) following 20-16 victory vs. San Diego.

G11: 7.8% (4.0-v, 3.8-s) following 20-16 loss vs. Carolina.

Next poll: Dec. 1 following game at N.Y. Jets.

G11: CAROLINA @ DOLPHINS: SECOND-HALF COLLAPSE DOOMS MIAMI: Final: Zero points in second half by Miami about says it all. No balance, negligible running game. This team simply does not close games, does not finish. (Click HERE for my column off the game). ..... 4Q: Old Cane Greg Olsen 1-yard TD flip from Newton and Carolina up 20-16 with 43 seconds left. Cats' first lead since 3-0. ... Another red flag successfully challanged by Philbin. ... Cats holding negates first down catch. Huuuge. ... Sturgis yanks a 53-yard FG try wide left. Nervous time. ... Dolphs force Cats punt. Every series huge now. ..... 3Q: Daniel Thomas out injured. ... Cats within 16-13 on Newton 5-yard run up middle. ... Ted Ginn Jr.'s family drops what should have been long TD pass. ..... Half: Tannehill 203 passing yards, 94.8 rating at half, and MIA defense limiting Newton to 45.9 rating, 100 yards. Stout defensive effort except for that last series. Miami halfway to what would be huge win. ..... 2Q: Hmm. Dolphins all but conceded field position and that last FG. Better not lose by three points. ... Cats drive for last-second 46-yard FG, pull within 16-6. ... Dolphs cash Carroll INT for 23-yard FG and 16-3 lead 61 seconds before half. ... Bad call. That was a helmet hit on Rishard Matthews in end zone. ... Nolan Carroll intercepts Newton, returns 24 yards. ... Sturgis adds 47-yard FG for 13-3 lead. ... Scoring change on that earlier blocked FG by Miami first credited to Dion Jordan. Now they say the kick glanced off a Panthers lineman's helmet. ... Dion Jordan sack, Dolphs making it tough for Cam Newton. ... Wallace 57-yard catch sets up Caleb Sturgis 32-yard FG and 10-3 lead. ... Successful Joe Philbin red flag reverses first down, causes Carolina punt. Dolphins 4-for-4 on chalenges this season. Joe Philbin! ..... 1Q: A bad crowd being treated to a good game so far. ... MIA 7-3 on 53-yard Tanny pass to Mike Wallace, only the latter's second TD of season. Pass underthrown but Wallace fought for the ball, beating the fabulously named cornerback, Captain Munnerlyn. ... Ted Ginn Jr.'s family returns punt 41 yards, sets up eventual 52-yard Carolina FG for game's first score. ... Cats drive stalls, 35-yard FG try blocked by Dion Jordan. ... Ryan Tannehill intercepted on first series on pass that was tipped by five different guys before landing in wrong hands. ..... Original post: Dolphins and Jets with five wins apiece lead a parade of seven other teams with four wins each in the mad jockeying for the AFC's 1aa1dol11 1aa1cramiafinal wild-card playoff spot. This is a bona fide playoff chase! (Even if it is on the low end). Beating favored Carolina today will take some offensive force not seen much from this team. I think the Dolphin defense will do OK containing Cam Newton's offense. It is Miami vs. Carolina's excellent defense that worries me. This is the best all-round defense Miami has faced. The Dolphins caught a break when Cats DE Charles Johnson and his 8.5 sacks were ruled out of the game. Or should I say Miami's beleaguered offensive line caught a break. I still have my doubts if Ryan Tannehill and crew can bust out offensively today. My pick: Carolina, 24-16.

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November 23, 2013

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 51.1%; plus UM whips Virginia 45-26; Gators loss the end for Muschamp?; Collball roundup (updated) & more

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 4 Rights/4 Wrongs on 2013 Dolphins, remembering JFK 50 years later, NFL Week 12 predix & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Find UM-Virginia and other game summaries directly below CSM poll...

Collball Week 13

1aa1flaHome is where the games are: Miami -- twice. Gainesville. Tallahassee. Tampa. Orlando. Boca Raton. All across the peninsula, all seven state FBS teams are playing home games today. Maybe that has happened before, but I cannot recall when. Enjoy...

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 51.1 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 45-26 victory versus Virginia putting Mami's 1aa1csmseason record at 8-3 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. 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, season as a whole, 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 9 a.m. today/Monday.

2013 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 82.9% (19.9-very, 63.0-somewhat) following 34-6 victory vs. FAU.

G2: 96.7% (71.2-v, 25.5-s) following 21-16 victory vs. Florida.

G3: 95.7% (77.2-v, 18.5-s) following 77-7 victory vs. Savannah State.

G4: 97.6% (67.9-v, 29.7-s) following 49-21 victory at South Florida.

G5: 95.8% (60.4-v, 35.4-s) following 45-30 victory vs. Georgia Tech.

G6: 82.3% (41.8-v, 40.5-s) following 27-23 victory at North Carolina.

G7: 68.4% (31.2-v, 37.2-s) following 24-21 victory vs. Wake Forest.

G8: 65.7% (28.5-v, 37.2-s) following 41-14 loss at Florida State.

G9: 15.1% (4.7-v, 10.4-s) following 42-24 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

G10: 5.7% (2.5-v, 3.2-s) following 48-30 loss at Duke.

G11: 51.1% (6.2-v, 44.9-s) following 45-26 victory vs. Virginia.

Next poll: Nov. 29 following game at Pitt.

G11: HURRICANES 45, VIRGINIA 26: UM's beleaguered defense, goat of the losing streak, came through today, forcing four Virginia turnovers and turning two into TDs in Miami's comfortable win. Allen Hurns' 126 receiving yards highlighted the offensive side. ..... Original post: In a three-game losing streak that has sent Miami cascading from No. 7 in the polls to out of them altogether, the Canes defense has allowed 131 points and 1,609 


1aa1canes11 1aa1canesvayards. Awful. But here comes the cure: The really bad, 2-8 Virginia Cavaliers! At the risk of tossing a jinx out there, there is no way UM can lose this game, its home finale. Mediocre Pitt is next, so the Canes have a chance to finish 9-3 and get into a decent bowl even though ACC dreams have expired. It's Senior Day for QB Stephen Morris and the other graybeards, and I'd expect a big performance all over the field. My pick was: Miami, 45-10. (Nailed Canes' point total, at least).

Other Week 13 state FBS games:

No. 2 Florida State 80, Idaho 14: Noles plow on through the legal issues surrounding QB Jameis Winston, a distraction to them as Bullygate is to the Dolphins. Didn't matter here, though. Idaho is as bad as FSU is great. The Noles can't help but score. My pick was: FSU, 62-0.

Georgia Southern 26, Florida 20: Reeling Gators have now lost six games in a row, the previous two to Vanderbilt and then to Steve Spurrier. But losing to Georgia Southern? In the Swamp? A new low. I don't know how coach Will Muschamp survives this. My pick was: Florida, 34-0.

No. 18 UCF 41, Rutgers 17: Knights are rolling to AAC title and automatic BCS bowl spot, and this home Thursday nighter was barely a speed bump. My pick was: No pick. (Cost myself an easy win).

Marshall 48, FIU 10: Thought Thundering Herd would trample a really bad FIU. Sorry to say I was right. My pick was: Marshall, 58-16.

FAU 55, New Mexico State 10: The Owls are coming on and still have a shot at bowl eligibility. The visitors were plumb awful. My pick was: FAU, 38-13.

Southern Methodist 16, USF 6: SMU is mediocre. Bulls slightly worse, but we were ridin' the home 'dog. Bad idea. My pick was: Upset. USF, 23-17.

Off this week: None.

Week 13 national Top 25 matchups:

No. 22 LSU 34, No. 12 Texas A&M 10: Don't like Johnny Manziel personally, but immensely respect his talent. Still, LSU had not lost in Death Valley and was coming off a bye. In Les Miles I trusted. Bingo! My pick was: LSU, 34-31.

No. 19 Wisconsin 20, No. 25 Minnesota 7: Both teams were 8-2 but Badgers clearly were superior. My pick was: Wisconsin, 27-23.

No. 17 Arizona State 38, No. 14 UCLA 33: Bruins home, ranked higher but an underdog. Go figure. I couldn't. But should have. My pick was: Upset. UCLA, 28-24.

No. 8 Missouri 24, No. 24 Ole Miss 10: Mizzou one of the unheralded great teams. My pick was: Missouri, 37-24.

No. 10 Oklahoma State 49, No. 4 Baylor 17: Baylor's offense seemed unstoppable, but OSU had won six in a row, and Baylor hadn't won in Stillwater since 1939. (Nice pick by me, but I sure didn't expect a rout). My pick was: Upset. OSU, 31-30.

My record: So far this week, 8-3; season, 73-24.

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November 22, 2013

Dolphins: 4 Rights, 4 Wrongs to 2013 season; plus JFK 50 years later, NFL predix & more

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22. I'm up in Random Evidence Laboratories summoning Sunday's notes-column package. 2) Happy 70th birthday, Billie Jean King. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ted Wells brings fabulous mustache to Miami, NFL's anti-bullying initiative, Elvis and Lennon as they'd look today, 790 fires P.D., Dolphin cheerleader on Beautiful People list, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

1aa1jfkIt was 50 years ago today: John F. Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22, 1963 happened in my lifetime, but barely. I have a first grader's faintest memory of being sent home from school, walking into my house in west Hollywood, and seeing my mother transfixed by the TV, watching history unfold in black and white, and sobbing. JFK was not a man or a president to me, he was an image, a symbol. Fifty years later he is still that, handsome and unaged. Any fellow oldies out there who remember 50 years ago today?

THE RIGHTS AND WRONGS OF THE 2013 DOLPHINS: Miami at 5-5 is one of nine AFC teams with five or four wins and in a mad scrum for the final playoff spot. Should make for a finish 1aa1dolrightwrong2
1aa1dolrightwrongto the season that is more exciting than the team itself. Here are some things that have gone Right and Wrong to land the Dolphins where they are, which is teetering between good and bad, between a team that gives you hope and gives you headaches. Four Rights, Four Wrongs in random order:

Right: Charles Clay: The young tight end is blossoming into an offensive force. Not Rob Gronkowski/Jimmy Graham, but good enough and better than Miami has had lately. He has 42 catches for 474 yards, and a team-leading four TD receptions and 258 yards-after-catch.

Right: Pass defense: It isn't great or consistent, but it has exceeded expectations. Helped by the Cam Wake-led pass rush, Miami's defense has the sixth-lowest opponent passer rating (77.4) and is tied for sixth with 13 interceptions. Only three teams have given up fewer than Miami's 11 touchdown passes allowed. Dimitri Patterson's four INTs and Brent Grimes' three (with 12 passes defensed) have given the secondary some unaccustomed impact.

Right: The punter: Seriously. Brandon Fields' 49.3 average leads the league and his 42.4 net average is fifth. On a field-position-minded team not exactly making scoreboards break with overuse, that's big.

Right: Ryan Tannehill: The is a marginal 'right' but I see progress. His completion percentage and TD/INT ratio are improved. He is on pace to make a run at 4,000 yards. Given the O-line nightmare, Wallace's underperformance and an erratic running game, Tannehill is moving closer to being the answer.

Wrong: A low-impact draft: They traded way up for DE Dion Jordan, who has been largely invisible. Mel Kiper Jr. just ranked 45 rookies based on current impact. Dolphins among them: Zero. Seldom a good sign when a kicker is your big find. Jordan and a couple of others may yet prove themselves, but based on immediate impact the '13 draft was a bust. That's on GM Jeff Ireland.

Wrong: Mike Wallace: Team is not getting sufficient return on its $60 million free-agent investment. Wallace has caught barely half of the balls thrown to him (44 of 85) for only 534 yards and one TD, with far too many drops. Miami paid for an elite, star receiver and is getting just another guy.

Wrong: Offensive line shambles: I don't mean Bullygate. I mean the state of the O-line even before the scandal, and now moving forward. The state is sad. It stinks. Center Mike pouncey is the team's only proven, quality blocker, a situation that drags down the entire offense.

Wrong: Run defense: The interior D-line anchored by Paul Soliai and run defense were supposed to be the team's strength. It's been mediocre. Miami ranks 25th of 32 teams allowing 122.6 yards per game. The past four games it's been an unacceptable 154.3.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 12 NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS BEAT BULLYGATE, BUT WON'T BEAT CAM: The 1aa1fripixongoing distraction of Bullygate isn't beating the Dolphins, as proved last week vs. San Diego. But overcoming Cam Newton and an excellent Carolina defense won't be as simple for Miami at home Sunday. Click on Week 12 Gems for full prediction capsules on the Dolphins and all other games, and on Manning Vs. Brady for my Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with Sunday's classic quarterback duel and how history will view each man. My week got off to a mixed start last night. I (unwisely) picked Saints to cover a 9-point line in Atlanta and Falcons kept it close.

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November 19, 2013

NFL partners in anti-bullying initiative; plus celebrating Ted Wells' mustache, Elvis at 78, changes at 790, cheery Elizabeth, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY & more


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1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21. I'm down in the Friday Page Dungeon whipping up this week's NFL picks. Do not disturb. Actually, the way my picks are going, please disturb. 2) Sachs Media Group has produced artist renderings of what deceased celebrities might look like today. Elvis Presley, at 78, and John Lennon, at 73, are pictured. Creepy! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat San Diego, DSM poll, Jimmie Johnson reigns at Homestead & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

1aa1tedw

TED WELLS BRINGS FANTASTIC MUSTACHE, SMILE TO NFL INVESTIGATION OF DOLPHINS BULLYGATE:
Ted Wells is the prominent New York attorney hired by the NFL to independently investigate the Richie Icognito/Jonathan Martin/Bullygate 1aa1dolted 1aa1dolted2mess. He is, as we speak, haunting Dolphins HQ in Davie, interviewing coaches, players and staff, culling information and looking out for incidents of juvenile pranks, towel-snapping and so forth. Ted is said to be perfect for this task and extremely fair, but that isn't what interests me. What does is the otherwordly aura put forth by this man. The strange mustache that is so wide as to be equal parts creepy and sinister. The magnetic, toothy, fixed grin. Ted, Smooth Operator, looks like a guy who would leave The Most Interesting Man in the World speechless and feeling inferior.

NFL partners in anti-bullying initiative: The NFL and USA Network on Dec. 2 will launch a series in which league stars including Ray Rice and J.J. Watt (nobody from Miami) help kids deal with bullying, hate and discrimination. Cris Collinsworth will narrate. A league spokesman told us the initiative is conciidental with NFL's ongoing investigation of the Dolphins' Bullygate matter.

1aa1todc790/104.3 THE TICKET FIRES PROGRAM DIRECTOR: The Miami market's top-rated sports radio station, 790 and 104.3 The Ticket, has fired program director Tod (yes, with one 'd') Castleberry (pictured), who joined the station in March 2012 from Washington, D.C. Staff was informed late Monday. A replacement has not been named. The firing is seen as extremely well-received within the building.

CONGRATULATIONS, ELIZABETH: The Bleacher Report website trotted out the "101 Most Beautful People in Sports," instantly making it the most 101-related entity since Disney's 101 Dalmatians. No. 1

1aa1elizabeth 1aa1elizabeth2was Arianny Celeste, a UFC "Octagon Girl," instantly ruining what little credibility pretty-lists have to begin with. As your public servant I culled the list for South Florida-related pretties and found four, not counting ex-Dolphin Reggie Bush (No. 57) and future Miami MLS owner David Beckham (No. 17). Our four are: No. 80, tennis star Serena Williams from Palm Beach; not my type because it looks as if she could kick the s--- out of me. No. 54, young tennis star Sloane Stephens, from Plantation. No. 33, Heat bon vivant Dwyane Wade. And, at No. 23 our Miami-area Prettiest Pretty ... Elizabeth, a Dolphins cheerleader! That's right: Just Elizabeth. She is pictured for your ogling pleasure.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 11: EUREKA!: I know that nobody exclaims, "Eureka!" anymore. So what. I 1aa1fripixhad a good week; well, a partly good week in picks if not fantasy. I'll take what I can get. NFL predix: Went a solid 11-4 outright but only 3-9-3 against the spread, with three games pushing on a 3-point line. Nailed two outright upsets (wins by Dolphins and Steelers) but not enough else went right ATS. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos fell yet again, of course. I'm now a surreal 1-10 after a 136-107 loss in which I had no scorer with more than Larry Fitzgerald's 18 points. Sad.

SOPY RANKINGS: WEEK 12: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of 1aa1sopythe Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. FSU QB Jameis Winston is comfortably the current leader. 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 12: 

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk12=Year

1 (1)     Jameis Winston, FSU-qb            138.5 = 1,800

2 (3)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb                319 = 1,528

3 (2)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb            141.5 = 1,383.5

4 (4)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb           201.5 = 1,275

5 (6)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb              126 = 1,121

6 (5)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb             DNP = 1,051

7 (7)     Devonta Freeman, FSU-rb          69 = 963

8 (8)     Rashad Greene, FSU-wr             56 = 923

9 (9)     Allen Hurns, Miami-wr                 107 = 882

10 (--)  Rannell Hall, UCF-wr                   202 = 780

Bubble: Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr, 739. Other team leaders: Florida--Tyler Murphy-qb, 723; USF--Marcus Shaw-rb, 720; FIU--Lamarq Caldwell-rb, 547. Note: UCF and USF have played nine games, all others 10 each.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. FSU (10-0); 2. UCF (8-1); 3. Miami (7-3); 4. Florida (4-6); 5. FAU (4-6); 6. USF (2-7); 7. FIU (1-9).

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November 17, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 42.4%; plus Miami wins, 20-16, Ted Wells speaks, Jimmie Johnson wins 6th NASCAR title & more

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18. Click on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes-Duke game, Collball Week 12 roundup, Brazil soccer & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

1aa1nascarJimmie Johnson wins sixth NASCAR title at Homestead: NASCAR's Championship Sunday was vroooming about an hour southwest of Dolphins stadium Sunday, with points leader Jimmie Johnson getting a sixth Sprint Cup season title. Click on Becoming The Best for my column on Johnson's triumphant day.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: See the (sad, season-low) results of latest CSM poll in blogpost directly below this one.

Dolphins investigator Ted Wells speaks!: NFL-appointed Bullygate investigator Ted Wells this morning issued the following statement: "We look forward to meeting with Dolphins players, coaches and staff in order to get the facts and prepare a thorough and fair report. The Dolphins organization has been very helpful in arranging the interviews and urging their personnel to cooperate with the investigation." Wells has asked all Dolphins personnel to not comment on the investigation.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 42.4 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 20-16 victory vs. San Diego putting the Dolphins' season record at 1aadsm5-5. 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% (20.3-v, 66.2-s) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% (71.9-v, 26.9-s) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% (78.2-v, 20.8-s) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% (18.8-v, 39.4-s) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

G5: 33.5% (4.3-v, 29.2-s) following 26-23 loss vs. Baltimore.

G6: 6.5% (3.8-v, 2.7-s) following 23-21 loss to Buffalo.

G7: 4.7% (3.0-v, 1.7-s) following 27-17 loss at New England.

G8: 50.3% (8.2-v, 42.1-s) following 22-20 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

G9: 4.7% (3.6-v, 1.1-s) following 22-19 loss at Tampa Bay.

G10: 42.4% (7.2-v, 35.2-s) following 20-16 victory vs. San Diego.

Next poll: Nov. 24 following game vs. Carolina.

G10: SAN DIEGO @ DOLPHINS: Final: A huge, huge win for Miami today. It was that in the playoff chase and, as much, it was that for a team, a lockerroom that was dealing not only with five losses in the previous six games but with the Bullygate scandal. Ryan Tannehill was good enough today, with 268 yards and a TD, the running game picked up (104 yards, 5.5. per), Charles Clay caught six passes for 90 yards and a score, and the defense was good enough. A great team effort, and a proper finish. ..... Halftime: Dolphins defense playing reasonably well and tattered, makeshift O-line allowed only two sacks, a manageable number. Tannehill fairly sharp but for the one pickoff. Win within reach. They'd better close the deal a hell of a lot better than they did six days ago in Tampa. ..... Original post: There are reasons tangible and intangible why today is so crucial to the Dolphins. Tangibly, Miami and San Diego both are 4-5 and angling for that sixth and final AFC East playoff spot. With a win today and two games left against the Stinkin' Jets -- who lost 37-14 at Buffalo today to fall to 5-5 -- the Dolphins would be
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closer to in control if they come out of this at .500. Come out of this 4-6 and you're a longshot again. This is the thing lost in the ongoing brouhaha that is Bullygate, with ESPN saying offensive line coach Jim Turner is part of the NFL investigtation and people calling for Tony Dungy to come in and clean house: The Dolphins still have a real shot at the playoffs by winning today. Intangibly, this beleaguered franchise and its frazzled fans desperately need something good to happen after two weeks of Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin hell and five losses in the past six games. The news that center Mike Pouncey is out today with kidney and gall bladder issues is just the latest wave of woe as an already depleted offensive line takes another huge hit. The line was bad even with Pouncey, Incognito and Martin. Now it's a fire drill for Ryan Tannehill and the running game. Despite it all, I like home-'dog Miami in a slight upset in today's 4:05 start. Part of it just the plain hunch that the Dolphins are due for someting good to happen. But some of it is X's and O's stuff. The Chargers defense allows the highest opponent passer rating in the NFL, and the Bolts' run-D allows 4.8 yards per carry. There is a big opportunity today for Tannehill, Mike Wallace, Lamar Miller and the rest if the rag-tag line can give Tanny sufficient time. The young QB  was asked this week what he'd say to frustrated Dolfans inundated with the embarrassment of Bullyagte. "Hang in there," he said. Well, make it easier fot them to do that, Ryan. Win today. Winning doesn't cure tall. But it's the essential start. My pick was: Upset. Miami, 24-21.

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November 16, 2013

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.7%; plus UM and woeful D fall at Duke 48-30, Collball Week 12 (updated), Brasil & more

1) It is SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17. Watch for our new Dolphins-San Diego blogpost by mid-afternoon today. 2) Click on Random Evidence for today's Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL/Dolphins Week 11 predix, Martin talks (says little), the gall of Incognito, Brazil-NASCAR poll result, Uncle Neil & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

1aa1brazBrasil sets record!: Infatuated with last night's Brazil-Honduras soccer exhibition at Dolphins stadium? No? OK, but many were, 71,724 in fact, a state record for a soccer crowd. Brazil of course won comfortably, 5-0. But the story was the crowd. David Beckham must be smiling as he angles to bring an MLS team to Miami. Our status as a potentially great soccer market made its statement with an exclamation point last night.

COLLBALL WEEK 12

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 5.7 percent overrall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 48-30 loss at Duke putting 23rd-ranked Miami'sseason 1aa1csmrecord at 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. That's a season low. 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, season as a whole, 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% (19.9-very, 63.0-somewhat) following 34-6 victory vs. FAU.

G2: 96.7% (71.2-v, 25.5-s) following 21-16 victory vs. Florida.

G3: 95.7% (77.2-v, 18.5-s) following 77-7 victory vs. Savannah State.

G4: 97.6% (67.9-v, 29.7-s) following 49-21 victory at South Florida.

G5: 95.8% (60.4-v, 35.4-s) following 45-30 victory vs. Georgia Tech.

G6: 82.3% (41.8-v, 40.5-s) following 27-23 victory at North Carolina.

G7: 68.4% (31.2-v, 37.2-s) following 24-21 victory vs. Wake Forest.

G8: 65.7% (28.5-v, 37.2-s) following 41-14 loss at Florida State.

G9: 15.1% (4.7-v, 10.4-s) following 42-24 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

G10: 5.7% (2.5-v, 3.2-s) following 48-30 loss at Duke.

Next poll: Nov. 23 following game vs. Virginia.

G10: DUKE 48, NO. 23 HURRICANES 30: AWFUL D AGAIN AS UM BLOWS ACC SHOT: Final: Awful. That is the word for Miami's defense today and the past three games, all losses. The three-game horror show: 131 points and 1,609 yards allowed. I think coach Al Golden's loyalty to defensive coordinator 1aa1canes10 1aa1canesdukeMark D'Onofrio is being officially tested, or should be. Today was especially crushing because Virginia tech's loss earlier in the day meant UM was in control to reach the ACC title game and another shot at Florida State. Now, Miami needs a miracle to get that far. Goodbye, polls. This was the No. 7-ranked team three weeks ago. Then, a three-game defensive collapse that can only be called embarrassing. ..... Halftime: Miami's defense isn't good enough so far. Again. Duke has 252 yards in the first half including 172 on the ground. UM has everything to play for with Va-Tech's loss today. Must win. Offense doing OK. Defense better wake up fast; two of Duke's scoring drives were 75 yards each. ..... Original post: This is not your older brother's Duke. They don't suck. They're not about to bounce Coach K off the top of the campus sports marquee, but they are credible now. They compete. They win. In fact the Blue Devils have won five in a row to roll into this game with the same 7-2 record as Miami, and they'll be tough for the Canes today thanks to a very strong defense. UM arrives wounded by two straight losses that have turned a No. 7-ranked team to No. 23, and left ACC title-game hopes alive but shaky. UM must win out and hope Va-Tech loses. First things first. With the other Duke -- Johnson -- lost for the season, today will be a big test for QB Stephen Morris. Plainly his senior season has not been as good as his junior year was, and today the Canes need the best of Morris to avoid an upset. Here's what the Canes need even more than that: Defense! Miami in two straight losses has allowed 83 points and an abominable 1,066 yards. That's shades of 2012, when defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio spent the entire season running away from fans carrying torches and pitchforks. Duke's offense is milder, which is a good start. The Hurricanes need this game. A lot. My pick was: Miami, 31-23.

Other Week 12 state FBS games, in order of interest:

No. 10 South Carolina 19, Florida 14: The Ol' Ball Coach, Gamecock-y Steve Spurrier, faced his former team at its lowest. Florida was 4-5 after a home loss to Vanderbilt (!) and confronting its first losing season since 1979 as its scrambles to become postseason-eligible and play in the Piece O' Crap Bowl. Will Muschamp's job is on thinning ice, and now Tyler Murphy's injury could force the first career action for mellifluously named redshirt-freshman QB, Skyler Mornhinweg. My pick was : South Carolina, 23-16.

No. 2 Florida State 59, Syracuse 3: Here's how great FSU is: Syracuse wsn't bad (5-4 going in) and yet the Noles were favored by a ridiculous 37 1/2 points. Well, not so ridiculous. QB Jameis Winston played despite being implicated this week in a 2012 sexual assault for which he has not been charged. With FSU having already clinched a spot in ACC title game, I saw a perfunctory win. My pick was: Florida State, 41-17.

No. 17 UCF 39, Temple 36: Knights are rolling to AAC title and automatic BCS bowl spot, and wouldn't let a 1-8 Owls squad deter them. But they almost did! Wow. My pick was: UCF, 45-13.

UTEP 33, FIU 10: Conference USA bottom-feeders both were 1-8, but I thought Texas-El Paso's Miners might be even worse, with an El Putrid defense that had allowed an average of 43.5 points in its eight losses. What was I thinking? My pick was: Upset. FIU, 26-23.

FAU 41, Southern Miss 7: I hardly ever trust Florida Atlantic on the road. But, coming off a bye and facing a winless Southern Miss, I'm glad I took my chances. My pick was: FAU, 28-20.

Memphis 23, USF 10: Both teams were 2-6 and I felt favored Memphis was better, but I rolled with the home Bulls coming off a bye. My pick was: Upset. USF, 20-17.

Off this week: None.

Week 12 national Top 25 matchups:

No. 7 Auburn 43, No. 25 Georgia 38: Dawgs brought an upset shot, but thought Tigers two-way QB Nick Marshall would be to much to handle as Auburn avenged last year's 38-0 loss and stayed in charge in SEC-West. My pick was: Auburn, 34-27.

No. 12 Oklahoma State 38, No. 24 Texas 13: Texas had won six straigth and OSU five, and winner would stay alive for Big 12 title. Cowboys had won past two trips to Austin and thought they'd gouge Longhorns' run defense. OSU was healthier, too. My pick was: Oklahoma State, 30-24.

My record: This week, 6-3; season, 65-21.

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November 15, 2013

NFL Week 11 predix: Something good happens to Dolphins!; plus Martin talks (says nada), Incognito's gall, Brazil tops NASCAR, Uncle Neil & more

It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15. I'm holed up today at Random Evidence Laboratories materializing the Sunday notes-column package. No solicitors, please, except Jehovah's Witnesses, who are always welcome. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins held hostage by Bullygate, Incognito files grievance, Brazil soccer vs. NASCAR poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Jameis Winston charge, LeBron speaks, SOPY rankings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 11 NFL PREDIX: SOMETHING GOOD HAPPENS TO DOLPHINS!: As Bullygate continues to hold hostage a team that also has lost five of its past six games, I nominate Miami as 1aa1fripixneeding a win more than any other NFL team entering Week 11. (OK, I admit Houston has a pretty strong argument there). In any case I like the Dolphins in a small upset over visiting San Diego. Sure, Philip Rivers is scary. But the Chargers' defense against both pass and run could be an elixir for beleaguered O-coordinator Mike Sherman. Click on Week 11 Gems for full prediction capsules on the Dolphins and all other games, including the Chiefs-Broncos Game of the Year. Click on Forty-Three Years for my Friday Page NFL column, on why that Kansas City-Denver game is so big, and interesting, on so many levels. My week got off to a mixed start last night. I picked Colts to win and cover a 3-point line at Titans. Colts won by exactly three, a push. (That's how tough it can be to pick against the spread. I had Indy winning by four; Indy won by three. It wasn't good enough).

MARTIN TALKS, SAYS REMARKABLY LITTLE: Estranged Dolphins bullying victim Jonathan Martin evidently said a lot today to NFL investigator Ted Wells. They spoke for seven hours in Manhattan. But Martin said little of usefulness in a statement afterward. This is it: "Today's meeting is consistent with my commitment to cooperate with the NFL's investigation into my experiences as a player on the Miami Dolphins. Although I went into great detail with Mr. Ted Wells and his team, I will not intend to discuss this matter publicly at this time. I do, however, look forward to speaking directly with Stephen Ross, Tom Garfinkel and the Dolphins' organization at the appropriate time. This is the right way to handle this matter. Beyond that, I look forward to the process of resuming my career in the National Football League." OK. Thank you for that glorified no-comment, Jon! 

1aa1incogINCOGNITO REDEFINES THE WORD GALL: I have my doubts if Richie Incognito knows what the word "gall" means or could spell it, but he personifies it with his grievance against the Dolphins seeking some $1.2 million in lost wages. Dear Richie: You were suspended without pay for conduct detrimental to the club for starring in the whole Bullygate mess against Jonathan Martin that has taken the team hostage. Now you want back pay? You a piece of work, dude. Seriously.

Poll result: Brazil soccer edges NASCAR: I asked in the last blogpost (you may still vote) which of this week's big Miami alt-sport events interests you more: Saturday's Brazil-Honduras soccer match at Dolphins stadium or Sunday's NASCAR championship finale at Homestead. Sorry, racing. Brazil had 24.3 percent of the vote to NASCAR's 20.4%, with another 5.1% saying both interested them. The bad news? The other 50.2% said neither interested them. Ouch.

REMEMBERING FONDLY WHEN I WAS "PUS ON TWO LEGS": The Twitter site @NeilRogersRadio in 1aa1neilrogershonor of the late, great local broadcasting legend linked Thursday to THIS YouTube tape of a 1999 show in which Neil took exception (in his usual understated way) to a column I'd written. Don't recall hearing it originally. Funny years later hearing Rogers refer to me on-air as "pus on two legs" and Greg "Kotex," a childhood derisive previously heard, I think, in junior high. I was a huge fan and admirer of Uncle Neil's wit and vulgarity, and privately took it as a treat on occasions when his scathing eye would fall upon me. Neil died in late 2010 at 68, way too soon. He truly was one of a kind, and is missed.

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