State of Florida has hand in 11 of 42 college football bowl games. We rank them here; plus which of ex-Big 3 is having biggest laugh over Heat's struggles? (Poll); also, Dolphins-Cardinals, other NFL Week 14 pix and King Sport 3Q Awards & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10. R.I.P., John Glenn, American astronaut and statesman who died this week at 95. 2) Click on Blockbuster Video for the latest Back In My Day segment from the LeBatard Show. 3) The Miami Herald's new Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes-WVU bowl matchup with poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 13 results, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and Snapchat.
Impact of Wade's departure, other select recent columns: Missing Dwyane Wade, the latest, on how Heat and its fans miss D-Wade even more than imagined. Plus Tannehill's Defining December, on imperative that Dolphins' QB be late-season closer and deliver Miami to playoffs. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Canes In the History Book.
SUNSHINE STATE POWER! MORE THAN ONE-FOURTH OF ALL BOWL GAMES ARE TIED TO FLORIDA: The major-college football postseason includes 42 bowl games in a dizzying three-week burst from Dec. 17 to Jan. 9. Eleven of them, or 26.2 percent, either are being played in the state of Florida or involve a state team. We rank them from 1 to 11 on an importance/watchability scale:
1. Tampa's Raymond James Stadium is host to this season's College Football Playoff national championship game Jan. 9, between the semifinal winners of No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. 4-Washington (12-1) and 2-Clemson (12-1) vs. 3-Ohio State (11-1). Games and stages get no bigger.
2. Orange Bowl in Miami gets a great matchup in No. 6 Michigan (10-2) and No. 11 Florida State (9-3). Both teams began season expecting to be preparing for a CFP playoff semifinal game right. Michigan thinks it still should be.
3. Orlando and the Citrus Bowl host No. 13 Louisville (9-3) and No. 20 LSU (7-4) on Dec. 31 in a matchup that now features the newly minted Heisman Trophy winner in L'ville QB Lamar Jackson.
4. Miami Hurricanes (8-4) face No. 16 West Virginia (10-2) in Orlando in the Russell Athletic Bowl. In WVU, Miami gets the highest-ranked bowl opponent of any unranked team.
5. Florida Gators, ranked No. 17, face Iowa in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 2 in a duel of big-conference 8-4 teams.
6. Boca Raton Bowl has Western Kentucky (10-3) and Memphis (8-4) Dec. 20 at FAU Stadium.
7. Jacksonville and the Taxslayer Bowl get Georgia Tech (8-4) and Kentucky (7-5) on Dec. 31 in a second-tier ACC/SEC duel.
8. UCF Knights (6-6) stay at home in Orlando in the AutoNation Cure Bowl Dec. 17 vs. Arkansas State (7-5). Make fun of six-win/.500 bowl teams; fine. But Knights were 0-12 a year ago so this game marks a big accomplishment.
9. Miami Beach Bowl hosts Tulsa (9-3) vs. Central Michigan (6-6) on Dec. 19. I mean, a bowl game tucked into Marlins Park as South Beach breezes waft in over the downtown skyline -- that's a pretty neat ambience.
10. South Florida Bulls (10-2) face South Carolina (6-6) Dec. 29 in the Birmingham Bowl in Alabama.
11. St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26 finds an odd matchup, with Mississippi State somehow sneaking into a bowl at 5-7 and Miami of Ohio a .500 team that started 0-6. Hey, somebody gotta be last.
WHY DENY IT? THE BIG 3 MUST BE HAVING A BIG LAUGH OVER HEAT'S STRUGGLES: The slumping, injury-wracked semi-Heat next play LeBron James in Cleveland on Friday and Dwyane Wade in Chicago Saturday, with Miami 7-15 and one of the worst teams in the NBA at the moment. You know LeBron wants to stick it to his former team because of the frostiness with Pat Riley. You know D-Wade must be feeling some satisfaction to know how much Miami misses him after essentially letting him go -- that's only human nature. Let's take it one step further: How can Chris Bosh not be smiling a little (or a lot) that the Heat is struggling after Miami would not clear him to play due to health concerns, effectively ending his career? They'd all deny it publicly, but how can all of the Big 3, for various reasons, not be taking pleasure in the down season that has enveloped Miami? (I wonder if LeBron's Cavs will be playing the "water-bottle challenge" courtside late in Friday's game? Late in Wednesday's 126-94 rout of the Knicks, LeBron, Kyrie Irving and other Cavs were seen killing time by flipping a water bottle and trying to have it land upright). Do you agree with my premise that LeBron, Wade and Bosh, for different reasons, all are feeling satisfaction over the Heat's struggles? Take a dip in our poll and let us know:
IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 14: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-CARDINALS, REST OF NFL: The full launch of our Week 14 comes after a big start last night as we correctly called Chiefs covering vs. Raiders (click Thursday Gem) to move to 25 games above .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Click on Week 14 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Cardinals, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other game. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the King Sport Third-Quarter Awards, our selection to this point for seven honors including NFL MVP and Dolphins MVP. Click on King Sport 3Qs to read.
Poll result: Liking (not loving) the Hurricanes-West Virginia bowl matchup: We asked what best expressed your interest in the Miami Hurricanes facing the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, and a plurality of 47.0 percent said "very pleased." But another 38.8% said they would have preferred to play the Florida Gators, and 14.2% said they would have preferred to play Mark Richt's former Georgia Bulldogs.