December 03, 2016

Miami Hurricanes football: Who is team's 2016 MVP? 5 players, 2 coaches make poll. You pick top 3. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Champ Saturday in college football, Dolphins-Ravens and other NFL Week 13 picks, your Cooperstown verdict & more

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

Dancingsign1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3. Caution, motorists: You have entered an area in which you are likely to encounter Fred Astaire-style dancers in the street. 2) Reminder: The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your Cooperstown ballot with poll, six Canes in final SOPY Top 30, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 12 results, LeBatard video from 1989 game show & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

D-Wade beats LeBron. Twice: In a game that had to hurt the heart of Heat fans, Dwyane Wade's Bulls beat LeBron James' Cavaliers, 111-105, last night, though LeBron outscored Wade 27-24. Wade also won his World Series bet with James, who had to dress in a Cubs uniform before the game.

Tannehill's defining December, select other recent columns: Tannehill's Defining December, the new one, on the imperative that the Dolphins' QB be a late-season closer and deliver Miami to the playoffs. And Week 13 Gems, our latest NFL picks. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. There's Hope For Us All.

UmmvpWHO WAS MIAMI HURRICANES' 2016 TEAM MVP IN FOOTBALL? (THAT'S MOST VALUABLE PERSON, NOT JUST PLAYER): Our seven-man ballot includes five players but also two coaches, and we invite you to vote for your top three (3). Nobody said life was easy. From the consensus of votes we'll name a team MVP -- Most Valuable Person -- with the regular-season done at 8-4 as the Canes and their fans await a bowl invitation. The poll is alphabetical. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

CHAMP SATURDAY IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS CFP WAITS: Championship Saturday in college football: the crescendo that decides conference championships, sets the bowl schedule and determines which select four teams will make the College Football Playoff, which meets Sunday to set its two semifinal matchups. The Miami Hurricanes are likely to end up bowling in Jacksonville or Orlando vs. an SEC opponent, possibly Florida or Georgia. More important today, nationally: the top of the CFP ranking and how the final four will shake out. What's happening with the teams that have a chance for the final four:

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) beat No. 15 Florida, 54-16, SEC Championship: Nick Saban's Tide was a silly 24-point favorite and showed why.

No. 2 Ohio State (11-1) did not play: Buckeyes fine staying right where they're at to avoid Alabama in the semis.

No. 3 Clemson (12-1) beat No. 23 Virginia Tech, 42-35, ACC Championship: Might Clemson fall to No. 4?

No. 4 Washington (12-1) beat No. 8 Colorado, 41-10, Pac-12 Championship: Huskies stated emphatically that they belong.

No. 5 Michigan (10-2) did not play: After Washington's big win, Wolverines' only realistic prayer was a loss by Clemson.

No. 7 Penn State (11-2) beat No. 6 Wisconsin, 38-31, Big Ten Championship: Winner needed Clemson loss and luck to somehow climb into top four.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 13: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAVENS, REST OF NFL: We launch our Week 13 on the heel of an OK/solid 10-6 mark straight-up last week and 9- Fripix6-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began the new week with mixed results last night on our Vikings-over-Cowboys upset call. Dallas won, but we did have Minny with the points to put us a big 24 games above .500 ATS for the year. Click on Week 13 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Ravens, 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 imperative that Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill be a December closer this time and deliver Miami to the playoff promised land. Click on Tannehill's Defining December to read.

Poll result: And your 2017 baseball Hall of Famers are...: We invited you to vote for the top five of the 13 finalists I presented, and your five "inductees" were: Barry Bonds 14.5 percent, Roger Clemens 13.0%, Pudge Rodriguez 10.9%, Manny Ramirez 9.1% and Jeff Bagwell 8.5%. Close were Curt Schilling 8.4%, Tim Raines 7.9%, Vladimir Guerrero 7.5% and Trevor Hoffman 7.2%. Far back were Mike Mussina 4.6%, Edgar Martinez 3.9%, Jorge Posada 3.8% and Magglio Ordonez 0.9%. Vote totals should be quintupled for an idea of the total percentage of ballots that included that player. By that standard, Bonds is the only player who would have come close by your votes to meeting the 75% standard for actual induction into Cooperstown by the BBWAA. I'm a voter, and will publish my picks in the blog closer to when they are due later this month.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 28, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.9%; plus UM routs Duke 40-21 behind Kaaya's record day; also, OSU survives, FSU wins, other Collball (updated); The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP standings (15 games); Castro dies & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Thanksgiving Weekend! 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 12 picks, annual Thanksgiving holiday video from me to you, Shaq/retired number verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few select recent columns: Click Week 12 Gems for latest NFL picks and on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins for analysis of Miami's playoff chances. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face.

Fidel Castro dead at 90, Cuban Miami celebrates: Former Cuban president Fidel Castro died late last night at age 90, the news so many thousands in South Florida had long awaited, and are celebrating today. How the rest of America felt when the U.S. killed terrorist Osama bin Laden, this is how Cuban Miami feels about the demise of the Castro dictator, with many fervently believing he should burn in hell. My animus is not so personal, but, suffice to say, we'll attach no "R.I.P." here to this man's name.

Live-in game blog, postgame thoughts: See our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts right below the new Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 95.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 95.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 40-21 victory vs. Duke putting UM's final regular-Csmseason record at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC awaiting its bowl destiny. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday. This is not the season-ending poll; there will be a final one following UM's bowl game.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

G11: 92.9% following 27-13 victory at North Carolina State

G12: 95.9% following 40-21 victory vs. Duke

Next poll: Following bowl game

G12: HURRICANES 40, DUKE 21: UM DIDN'T REQUIRE ANY MIRACLES THIS TIME: Postgame thoughts: Big second half makes it a comfortable Miami win as expected to finish the regular season 8-4 with a fourth straight win. Not since 2002 had UM ended a season (pro-bowl) with four straight wins. But the big story is Brad Kaaya, with 396 yards passing and four TDs  to shatter Ken Dorsey's UM career passing-yards record of 9,565 ..... 4Q: within 40-21 late o 12-yard scoring pass ... Miami 40-14 on Kaaya 58-yard TD pass to Njoku ..... 3Q: UM tacks on FG for 33-14 lead as quarter ends. The bigger news: Kaaya with 313 yards has now catapulted past Dorsey's UM career passing yards record 9,565 ... UM 30-14 on Kaaya 3-yard scoring pass to Coley, but a 38-yard setup to Berrios the big play. Kaaya now only 9 yards from surpassing Dorsey's career passing yards record ... Canes catch break with Duke wide right on FG try ... UM up 23-14, its first breathing-room lead of game, on 76-yard scoring pass from Kaaya to Njoku. One wide-open receiver and one-missed tackle equals play of game so far ..... Halftime: Did not expect a tight game, with Miami a 15-point favorite in regular season finale. Still not feeling much jeopardy on UM's behalf, though. Expect this thing to bust open in second half in Canes' favor ..... 2Q: See saw game. Canes now up 16-14 just before half on 33Y FG ... UM within 14-13, settling for 25-yard field goal ... Where is Miami's pass rush and pass defense? Duke regains lead 14-10 on 13-yard scoring pass. Devils QB now 9-for-9 ..... 1Q: UM back up 10-7 on Kaaya 30-yard scoring pass to Walton ... Duke drives 75 yards for 7-3 lead on 6-yard pass ... UM 3-0 on 47-yard FG ... I think I'd like this game better if  it was Mike Krzyzewski's team facing UM ..... Original post: A year ago in Raleigh the Hurricanes needed that eight-lateral kickoff return miracle on the final play to escape Duke with a controversial, purloined win. This afternoon beginning at 3:30 in Miami Gardens should not feature such drama or require a Houdini act in a game that finds Duke a 15-point underdog. Miami sails in on a Dukemiathree-game win streak and is 7-4, with a victory here perhaps steering the Canes to a New Year's Eve bowl date in Jacksonville vs. the Florida Gators. Duke is 4-7 after four losses in the past five games and needs an upset win today to get on the bowl standby list in case there are (it's unlikely) an insufficient number of six-win teams. UM will honor its 18 seniors today in its regular-season finale, and so wants a nice crowd they were offering $18 lower-bowl tickets and calling it a "Black Friday Sale." Miami leads the all-time series 11-2 and should be in clear command today. The U's defensive front and pass rush will disrupt Duke's offense and (it says here) force it into two or three turnovers. Meanwhile Miami's balanced, Brad Kaaya- and Mark Walton-led offense should have little problem today. Kaaya need 276 yards to break Ken Dorsey's UM career record of 9,565, and I see him doing it. Mark Richt did have a bit of ammo to guard against his team's overconfidence. His preach theme for the week was that Duke beat two teams (Notre Dame, North Carolina) that beat Miami. So there. But it would take an unexpected flat performance by the Canes today to keep the Blue Devils in this game. My pick: Hurricanes, 38-13.

Other state FBS Week 13 games, chronologically, all Saturday:

South Florida 48, UCF 31: Upstate rivalry founds Bulls big 10-point faves and winning a shootout to improve to 10-2. Top 25, anyone?

Old Dominion 42, FIU 28: The O.D.'s were 14-point picks and dominated in second half to end The Intl's season on a downer at 4-8.

Middle Tennessee 77, FAU 56: This is not a basketball score by mistake. This is a football score. Perfect way for Owls to end their season 3-9.

No. 14 Florida State 31, No. 15 Florida 13: Seminoles were 7 1/2 -point home faves in one of great rivalries in college football, with big Gators defense trying to limit big Noles attack in an ABC telecast. Um, it didn't work. FSU seniors completed an 8-0 career sweep of state rivals UF and Miami, which is a first. Florida State, 9-3, began the season thinking national championship, fell short but gets this solace. Florida, 8-3, is headed to the SEC championship game vs. Alabama, but with heads hung low.

National Collball Week 13 overview: Seven days now before the College Football Playoff has its Selection Sunday and mints the two semifinal games, we saw four teams desperately trying to protect their standing Saturday. In the Big One, 2-Ohio State protected its home turf vs. 3-Michigan 30-27 in double OT -- a game that lived up to expectations. 1-Alabama eased past 15-Auburn 30-12 and 4-Clemson routed South Carolina 56-7. Might Michigan despite the stay at No. 3 or drop only to 4? No. 5 Washington, which won big Friday, certainly hopes not. Stay tuned.

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (15 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals, and the updated standings still show a runaway for a certain big center, but a fight for second place. With Miami now 5-10 after last night's win over Memphis, here's the Luddite's third installment, with 10-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (15 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       492

2. Dion Waiters (5)              307

3. Tyler Johnson (2)             304

4. Goran Dragic (3)             272

5. James Johnson (6)          241

Bubble: Justise Winslow 181 (4). Others: Josh Richardson 166, Rodney McGruder 128, Luke Babbitt 100, Willie Reed 73, Derrick Williams 71, Josh McRoberts 47, Udonis Haslem 15.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 23, 2016

Heat retiring Shaq's No. 32: Borderline. Arguable. Should they? Last day for poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/Hurricanes resurgence, Jurgen Klinsmann firing, NFL Week Pix ' Fantasy results, latest SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23. Happy Thanksgiving Eve? I'm holed up at Friday Page World Headquarters today making all of my Bird Day plus Sunday/Monday NFL picks so I can, you know, actually, have Thanksgiving Day off. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins extend win streak in L.A. with DSM poll, Jimmie Johnson reigns over NASCAR at Homestead, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Dolphins, Hurricanes' resurgence: Miami's two big football teams haven't been this hot together entering Thanksgiving since 1989. Click on Football Town Strikes Back to read my latest column. A few other select recent columns: Surreal At 200 MPH, from Homestead racetrack on Jimmie Johnson's historic Sunday NASCAR win. Also: Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

ShaqheatHMM. SHOULD THE HEAT REALLY BE RETIRING SHAQ'S NUMBER?: Heat announced Monday they'll retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 in a ceremony Dec. 22 during a home game vs. the Lakers. This isn't worthy of vehement objection, I suppose. Shaq did arrive, late in his fleeting prime, to help Miami win its first NBA title in 2005. He helped the franchise achieve a higher stature. Besides, all of this retired jersey/rafters stuff is just ceremonial, anyway. Then again, shouldn't the honor be reserved for the best of the best in franchise history such as the Dwyane Wades? Did Shaq really play enough here -- 3 1/2 seasons -- to merit a retired number? Clearly, the Lakers are the only club that should be retiring Shaq's number. I mean, he played for Orlando longer than he played in Miami. Consider the slice of his career pie Miami had of Shaq: 16.98% of his games played, 14.02% of his points scored, and 14.17% of his rebounds. So his NBA career was about 1/6th or 1/7th Miami. But I could be wrong. Have your say in this poll:

MIXED EMOTIONS ON U.S. SOCCER FIRING KLINSMANN: International soccer has a long, dubious history of abrupt coach firings. I'm not sure if you can call this one of those. Jurgen Klinsmann
Klinsmannhas since 2011 been steering the U.S. men's national soccer team, though ups and downs. His guys survived a very difficult Group of Death to reach the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. Not bad. But what has happened so far in qualifying for the 2018 WC in Russia cost the German national his job on Monday. The U.S. is 0-2 in qualifiers, losing 2-1 at home (Columbus, Ohio) to Mexico, and then, unforgivably, humiliatingly, 4-0 at Costa Rica. Early reports are that MLS/L.A. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena will replace Klinsmann. Arena, of course, coached the U.S. from 1998 to '06. The new man will have some time, as the next qualifying matches are not until late March. Not so sure about recycling Arena. I thought Klinsmann should have been given this World Cup cycle. If he failed to qualify, then make a move. But two losses early in qualifying is not failing to qualify. Anyway, the search for the right man to make U.S. men's soccer a world power continues. Now we see if Arena II is the answer. The American women have done it, which does nothing but heap that much more pressure on the U.S. men and, now, Arena again.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 11 RESULTS: BIG PREDIX RALLY, LOBOS STAY SCORCHIN'!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Oh yeah! NIce bounceback week. Went a sterling 12-2 overall and a nifty 9-4-1 against the spread, including a bull's-eye on our Upset of the Week ("Aaawwwk!") with Bills winning at Bengals. We're now a very solid 20 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos slipped past Roy's team 95-85 in a duel of league powers in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 8-3 after (like the Dolphins) a fifth straight win. Theo Riddick led us with only 16 points but we had five in double figures and got a dozen from smart late-week pickup Thomas Rawls. Keep it honkin', big rig. Keep it rollin', 'Bos!

SOPY RANKINGS / SEASON-FINALE SATURDAY! CANES' KAAYA TRIES TO NAIL DOWN 4TH PLACE IN 'STATE HEISMAN': Not much drama, frankly, as we wind down the fifth season of our blog's SopyState Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, as all seven state FBS teams conclude their regular seasons this coming Saturday. Quinton Flowers has passed and run away with the season crown. Let's see if Miami's Brad Kaaya can secure fourth place. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week took a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. All teams have played 11 games except the Florida Gators, with 10. 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. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 13, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings. The SOPY rankings do not include bowl games, so we'll have our Final Top 25 next week:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 12:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)               Wk12       Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                257.5      2,680

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                         249         1,975

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 191.5      1,741

4      4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                      129         1,412

5      5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       110.5      1,364.5

6      8      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     157         1,285 

7      7      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                      135         1,267

8      6      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      DNP      1,159.5

9      9      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         137         1,098

10    --     McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb                153.5      1,020.5

Bubble: Devin Singletary, FAU-rb, 938. Other team leader: Jordan Scarlett, Florida-rb, 784. Week 12 best:Flowers, 257.5; Season best: Flowers, 371.5, Week 11.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 22, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.7%; plus Fins' miracle rally beats L.A. 14-10 for 5th straight win!; also, Johnson wins Homestead to make NASCAR history, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Fins501) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21. Heat announce they'll retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 on Dec. 22. 2) See the buoyant new rating in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll in the blogpost directly below this one. 3) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' 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. Pictured right: the books for sale at Costco. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at North Carolina State with CSM poll, other state Collball, your verdicts on NASCAR winner and LeBron-posse & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jimmie Johnson makes, well, equals, NASCAR history: Click on Surreal At 200 MPH for my column from Homestead-Miami Speedway on Johnson's record-tying seventh career Sprint Cup championship by Johnson last night.

A few of our other select recent columns: A Race For History, previewing the NASCAR season finale here. Also: Doctor Speed (Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli). Week 11 Gems (latest NFL picks). South Florida to Canton (locals up for induction). Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

Dolphins in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find both here directly below the new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 95.7%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and the show 95.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 14-10 victory at Los Angeles putting Miami's season record Dsmat 6-4 after a fifth consecutive win. The DSM 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. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

Next poll: Nov. 27 (following game vs. San Francisco)

G10: DOLPHINS @ LOS ANGELES: GOFF DEBUT AN UNPREDICTABLE WILD-CARD AS MIAMI SEEKS FIFTH STRAIGHT WIN: Final thoughts: Wow. Just, wow. I mean, Miami's offense was doing nothing through three quarters. Tannehill was having a nightmare. He'd had 57 yards on 21 throws. He'd been sacked four times. Miami didn't even convert a 3rd down until 5:44 remained. Then Tanny throws two TDs in the fourth quarter, a flatlining offense miraculously coming alive to extend the winning streak to five games and make Miami 6-4 and bona fide playoff contenders. Tannehill's late heroics won the game, but so did Miami's defense, limiting the Rams to 226 total yards. If you make the playoffs, you look back on wisns like this, comeback wins on the road. Amazing ... 4Q: Miracle! Miami 14-10 with 36 seconds left on Tanny-Parker 9-yard scoring pass ... Fins get ball back at own 25 with 2 minutes left ... MIA within 10-7 on Tannehil-Landry 10-yard scoring pass ... Rams miss 48-yard FG try ... This is futility defined: Miami has 10 punts, and 57 yards on 21 pass attempts ..... 3Q: LA 10-0 on 46-yard FG, a hole made to seem huge by Miami's inept offense so far today ... Penalties hurting Miami, not for first time this season ... Tannehill deep ball for Parker is intercepted by Rams. First turnover of game ... Miami just punted for seventh time. Ugly ..... Halftime thoughts: Boring game at 7-0, Rams. Eleven punts, six by Miami. Fins defense has been fine, giving up a total of only 108 yards. It's Miami's passing game that needs to unclog and get down the field. Tanmnehill's 10 completions have covered only 51 yards. Ain't gonna cut it ..... 2Q: Miami now has five more punts than points ... A fourth Dolphins punt. Seven completions for 31 yards ain't gonna cut it, Tannehill. Dink City. Need to mix in a little vertical, Fins ..... 1Q: Miami only 71 yards' offense in opening quarter --half on that one 36-yard run ... How does this happen? Ajayi 36-yard run to the LA 22, and you wind up 4th-and-29 at the 41 and punt ... Two punts, 26 total yards in two series for Miami offense so far ... LA 7-0 on Guirley 24-yard TD run ... Figured this as low-scoring game, and first two series (punt-punt) have shown why ..... Original post: It was 1986 when last the Dolphins played the Rams in Los Angeles. Dan Marino was blooming into his awesome prime. Ryan Tannehill wasn't born yet. Adam Gase was an 8-year-old kid kickin' around Ypsilanti, Michigan. Thirty years later, Miami is 5-4 after a Mialaseason-saving, face-saving four-game win streak and is a scant 1-point road favorite to make it five W's in a row. Los Angeles is 4-5, but with a stout defense and the interesting, unpredictable wild-card of the long-anticipated first NFL career start for QB Jared Goff, the overall No. 1 draft pick out of Cal. That alone gives this otherwise so-so 4 p.m. matchup a wiggle of national heft, although the Dolphins trying to stretch their winning streak of course tops the marquee through the Miami lens. Goff incubated half a season on the bench until finally it dawned on Jeff Fisher and L.A. that their offense was really bad (last in NFL scoring average at 15.4) under Case Keenum and needed a jolt. Doubt they'll ask Goff to do too much, though. He wasn't very good in preseason and will have butterflies today the size of pterodactyls. Expect a heap of Fins pass pressure early. The odds of Goff struggling and throwing a couple of picks seem greater to me than the odds he'll be the hero and the headline. That's why I'd expect we'll see a heavy dose of RB Todd Gurley as the Rams try ease the immense pressure on Goff and exploit an uneven Fins run defense. Miami's bigger concern should be L.A.'s defense, which is stout. Star DT Aaron Donald has potential to make it tough on Ryan Tannehill and also threaten Jay Ajayi's hot streak of 608 yards rushing in past four games. Doesn't help that Miami's O-line is depleted again with center Mike Pouncey injured (again). But if the ifs come through -- if Miami's offensive line is simply good enough and if the run defense limits Gurley -- the Dolphins should get that golden fifth straight win in what figures as a low-scoring game. My pick: Dolphins, 19-16.

JIMMIE JOHNSON WINS NASCAR FINALE AT HOMESTEAD -- RACE AND RECORD-TYING 7TH SEASON TITLE: Click Surreal at 200 MPH for my column from the track on Johnson's big (and rather incredible) triumph last night. Original post: Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano (that's Nascar Homesteadalphabetical) will race for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship today at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- one of Greater Miami's premier annual sporting events. Whomever of those four finalists crosses under the checkered flag first wins the title, and anyone not specifically a fan of Busch/Edwards/Logano must be rooting for Johnson, right? Well, on second thought, still-loyal fans of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt might not be! A seventh career championship by Johnson would tie those two legends for the most ever. Click on A Race For History for my column on Johnson previewing today's championship run. Not atop the Homestead marquee today, but worthy: the final career race for retiring Tony Stewart, "Smoke," the adored, hated, cantankerous, combative, passionate star who'll be missed.

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

Hotbutton1. NASCAR: Johnson wins race, season and a piece of history at Homestead: Jimmie Johnson came from behind to win the race and his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup season championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway to tie legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most ever. Not sure I'll hear or see the phrase "wild ride" again without thinking of this race.

2. DOLPHINS: Miracle! Fins rally late in L.A. for fifth straight win: The Dolphins on Sunday solved Los Angeles' strong defense and the first career start of QB Jared Goff, the overall No. 1 draft pick, to continue their win streak with a 14-10 victory. Imagine. Relevance in late November after 1-4 start. The Amazin' Fins!

3. HEAT: A modest two games, but still first win streak of season for Miami: Heat still is only 4-8 but has its first modest two-game win streak of season after beating Bucks and Wizards. Meanwhile Hassan Whiteside is averaging 17.7 points, 16.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks entering the weekend. Earn that money, kid. #EarningIt

4. HURRICANES: UM prevails at N.C. State for third straight win: Solid defense and Mark Walton's running did the heavy lifting in UM's 27-13 win in Raleigh Saturday. It's three straight wins now and one left, next week's home finale vs. Duke, for Canes to continue proving they aren't the same team that lost four in a row in October.

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men prepare for first real test in Orlando: After a soft three-game opening stretch against lesser foes, Miami faces someone its own size, Stanford, on Thanksgiving Day in Orlando, in an eight-team invitational that also includes Florida, No. 14 Gonzaga and No. 20 Iowa State. Now we begin to find out about Jim Larranaga's new team.

6. PANTHERS: Cats finally showing signs of heating up: Florida has pulled above .500 at 10-9 for the season with two straight wins and four in the past five games. Still a ways to go to catch up to all that offseason Stanley Cup talk, but signs of progress evident. 

7. GATORS: Huge win at LSU lifts Florida to title game: Gators are in the SEC championship game after their defense dominated, 16-10 in Baton Rouge Saturday, against an LSU team favored by two touchdowns. Call it justice. This was the game postponed by Hurricane Matthew and was scheduled to be played in The Swamp.

8. SOCCER: U.S. men struggling in WC qualifying: A 2-1 home loss to Mexico followed by a 4-0 humiliation at Costa Rica has the U.S. men and coach Juergen Klinsmann under intense pressure in World Cup qualifying. (Relax, they'll still make it...)

9. NFL: League makes history with Monday game in Mexico: Unless Donald Trump's wall is up in time to prevent it, the first Monday Night Football game ever (Texans-Raiders) is about to happen in Mexico City. Viva la NFL!

10. NBA: It's official Karl-Anthony Towns is anointed: ESPN on its magazine cover and website has annointed Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns as "the face of the NBA's big man revolution." Sure. Because the Heat's Hassan Whiteside needed more perceived disrespect to fuel him, right?

Missing the HB10 cut: Tiger Woods has indicated that Dec. 1 will mark his return to competitive golf for first time in more than a year. Which gives him less than two weeks to subsequently announce he isn't quite ready.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 21, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 92.9%; plus UM 27-13 at NC State for 3rd straight win behind Walton, defense; also, Gators top other state Collball (updated), your verdicts on NASCAR favorite and LeBron-posse & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20. Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 12 predictions and Week 11 Pix 'n Fantasy results, NASCAR Sprint Cup poll, Patrick Staropoli, The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings, LeBron/Phil/posse poll & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday blogpost ahead: Watch for our jam-packed new blogpost -- Dolphins-Rams / NASCAR Homestead finale / Hot Button -- by early afternoon today.

A few of our select recent columns: Doctor Speed, on Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli. Week 11 Gems, our latest NFL picks. South Florida to Canton, on four locals up for induction. Also: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be? (on Fins' resourcefulness in four-game win streak. Return Of Wade (from Heat arena last week). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (Tannehill is good enough, Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

Canes in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find them both right below the new CSM poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 92.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 92.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 27-13 victory at North Carolina State Csmputting UM's season record at 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. That's the highest rating since after Game 4.This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

G11: 92.9% following 27-13 victory at North Carolina State

Next poll: Nov. 26 following regular-season finale vs. Duke

UmncstG11: HURRICANES @ NORTH CAROLINA STATE: UM PULLING AWAY AFTER A 3-3 FIRST HALF: Postgame thoughts: Always makes your coaching staff look good when a 3-3 halftime score busts open in your favor in the second half, which was the case in UM's 27-13 win at North Carolina State -- a third straight win making Miami 7-4. Nice all-round win. Brad Kaaya with 286 yards passing, Ahmmon Rcihards with nine catches for 117 yards and Mark Walton with 19 carries for 120 yards and three TDs -- Walton the second-half catalyst. Defense had a huge end-zone interception and held NC State to 5-for-17 on third down. Special teams had a big takeaway. Contributors everywhere. Neatly done for a nice road win ..... 4Q: MIA with now-safe 27-13 lead with 2 minutes to go o Walton's 3rd TD run, a 24-yarder giving him 102 yards for the day ... NC State within 20-13 on 22-yard FG. Canes got lucky. A Wolfpack TD run was negated by a clipping penalty that really didn't seem like a penalty at all ... Canes up 20-10 after 22-yard FG, the result of UM's Jaquan Johnson recovering muffed NC State punt return inside Wolfpack 20 ... Yards and points hard-won in this one. Somebody going to earn this win ..... 3Q: NC State within 17-10 in last minute of quarter, after apparent end-zone INT by UM's defense was ruled out of bounds upon review ... UM with its first breathing-room lead at 17-3 on Walton 1-yard scoring run, set up by Coley 51-yard catch-and-run to NC State 2 ... Size XXL defensive play for UM as Malek Young makes an end-zone interception to halt NC State threat to tie the game ... UM 10-3 lead on Walton 30-yard scoring run to begin second half. Miami will own second half if the running game keeps going like that ..... Halftime thoughts: UM has had the better of the game even if the scoreboard at 3-3 won't say it. Negligible running room for Miami; 15 carries for 22 yards. But Kaaya has 164 passing yards including 98 on seven catches by Richards. Meanwhile Canes defense has held NC State yto 122 totals yards. Nine punts have told the tale in a boring defensive game thus far. But I'm liking UM's chances in second half ..... 2Q: Wow. It'll be 3-3 at half because UM's Badgley misses 23-yard chip-shot FG with five seconds left in half ... NC State ties it 3-3 on 35-yard FG. UM gave up 39-yard pass play on series, about the only defensive lapse for Canes so far ... Ballsy fake-punt call by NC State. That's a team that knows it's offense isn't working and thus resorts to trickery ... First touchdown wins? ..... 1Q: Whole lot of defense and run-yards hard to come by for both teams in first quarter, but Kaaya is better than counterpart Finely, a big Canes edge ... UM 3-0 on 31-yard FG. Running tough so far as expected for Canes (Walton 5 carries for 6 yards), but Kaaya is getting time and finding open looks ..... Pregame: Miami has gotten back to running the ball very well in the two-game win streak that has followed that Oh No 0-4 October. In fact Mark Walton has consecutive 100-hard games. It has alleviated pass-block pressure on the offensive line and helped QB Brad Kaaya. It's a smart recipe for UM, now 6-4 and trying to grow its bowl outlook. Today starting at 12:30 p.m. in Raleigh, though, maintaining that run emphasis will be a mighty challenge. The N.C. State Wolfpack are only 5-5 but rank fourth in the nation in run defense, budgeting opponents to 99.4 yards er game. Wolfpack need a win for bowl-eligibility and have the added incentive of Senior Day in their home finale, so Canes will need to match the emotion and intensity on the the side. UM is a wavering 2 1/2-point road favorite, but late money on the home team dropped the line from 3. This most definitely is not a game to take casually for UM. All but one Wolfpack loss has been close, including 24-17 at then-No. 3 Clemson, and 24-20 to Florida State. In fact N.C. State very much seems better than its record, led by that sterling run defense and a spread offense that has generated 500-plus yards four times. The catalyst is RB Matt Dayes, a local kid out of Cypress Bay High who has 939 yards rushing. Hope The U packed its run D for the trip and that those young linebackers are raedy to go sideline to sideline. I like Miami today, though that could be a little bit of a homer pick, I'd admit, because I see this one as even and this afternoon as a serious test for Mark Richt's Canes. My pick: Hurricanes, 24-20.

Other state FBS Week 12 games, chronologically, all Saturday:

No. 23 Florida 16, No. 16 LSU 10: Huge, huuuge road win for Gators over a higher-ranked team that was a big 14-point favorite. This was the game being replayed seven weeks after it was originally scheduled as a Florida home game but was postponed by Hurricane Matthew. Florida brought that great defense in force to improve to 8-2 and, more important, clinch a spot in the SEC championship game.

No. 17 Florida State 45, Syracuse 14: Dalvin Cook's 225 rushing yards and four TDs led Noles, now 8-3,  to the easy road win expected.

Old Dominion 42, FAU 24: Old Dominion, which always sounds to me like a brand of scotch,  was only an 8-point favorite in Owls' disappointing home finale putting them 3-8.

FIU 31, Marshall 14: FIU was off a bye and playing its home finale, and fashioned a nice little upset over a T-Herd squad favored by 2 1/2-point. FIU is now 4-7. Butch Davis surely was somewhat impressed in his first chance to see his future team in action as head coach-elect taking over in '17.

South Florida 35, SMU 27: Bulls improved to 9-2 and hoping to crack the Top 25s. SoFla still is alive to reach American conference title game but with one game left is down the tiebreaker to Temple.

Tulsa 35, UCF 20: Disappointing home showing drops Knights to 6-5.

National Collball Week 12 overview: College Football Playoff current top four teams all have (what should be) comfy wins Saturday, with No. 1 Alabama vs. Chattanooga, 2-Ohio State at Michigan State, 3-Michigan vs. Indiana and 4-Clemson at Wake Forest. All prevailed, albeit Ohio State barely, by one point. But after Earthquake Saturday last week, and with 5-Louisville losing big to Houston Thursday night, it seemed nothing in college football was certain. Well, except for Nick Saban winning big, of course.

Poll result: You want Jimmie Johnson to make history Sunday at Homestead: We asked which final-four driver do most hope wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup season championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Jimmie Johnson dominated with 51.0 percent. Then it was Joey Logano 19.6%, Carl Edwards 15.7% and Kyle Busch 13.7%.

Poll result: You think LeBron James way-overreacted to the "posse" comment: We asked where you fell on the LeBron James/Phil Jackson controversy over the word "posse" and 76.5 percent sided with Phil and 15.3% with LeBron. The other 8.2% could see both sides.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 14, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 82.0%; plus UM whips Virginia 34-14 for bowl eligibility; also, Brad Kaaya stay-or-go poll, other state Collball (updated), Popovich rips Trump voters & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12. The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes men and women's outlooks as college basketball opens, NFL Week 10 picks, Bill Stanfill dies, The List (UM hoops) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our most recent columns: The latest: Return Of Wade (from Heat arena Thursday night). Week 10 Gems (latest NFL predictions). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders) Select others: Miami QBs: No Worries (why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

"I'm still sick to my stomach, and not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor, tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in that country where half the people ignored all that to elect someone. That's the scariest part. We live in a country that ignored all those values that we would hold our kids accountable for." -- Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs coach

Postgame thoughts on UM win at Virginia: Find our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts here right below the new Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 82.0%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show an 82.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 34-14 victory at Virginia putting UM's Csmseason record at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. That maintains the highest rating since the team started 4-0. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

Next poll: Nov. 19 following game at North Carolina State

G10: HURRICANES 34, @ VIRGINIA 14: UM WNS HANDILY WITH BIG RUNNING and BIG DEFENSE, BECOMES BOWL-ELIGIBLE: Postgame thoughts: UM now 6-4 and bowl-eligible with 34-14 spanking of host Virginia, now 2-8. Canes were supposed to win without much anxiety and did, behind a 222-yard ground game and opportunistic defense. Kaaya wasn't great but spun a pair of TD passes. Walton rushed for 111 yards and a score. Richard's 100 receiving yards included a 77-yard score. Defense had four takeaways and budgeted Virginia to 289 total yards. Cavaliers showed why they're a lousy team but Miami played well overall and earned the win with a dominant second half ..... 4Q: Teams swap turnovers late, Yearby fumbling for UM, Elder getting it back ... Field position from muffed Cavs punt sets Canes up for 15-yard Walton scoring run and commanding 34-14 lead. Walton now with 111 yards on ground ... Bungled punt by Cavaliers gives UM ball at VA 39 ..... 3Q: Canes with now-comfy 27-13 lead on Kaaya 77-yard scoring pass (mostly run) to Ahmmon Richards late in quarter ... Big defensive play for UM! Corn Elder sack jars ball lose and Joe Jackson recovers. No points off turnover, though; Badgley wide on 50-yard FG try ... Miami now up 20-14 with 44-yard FG ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami as a 10 1/2-point favorite is only up 17-14 but getting ball to open second half. Kaaya not real sharp today (8-for-19) but UM ground game has 121 yards in the half. Defense has been pretty solid. A steady dose of Walton and Yearby in second half sounds like the recipe for the W that would bring bowl-eligibility ..... 2Q: VA within 17-14 on 13-yard TD pass ... Miami now 17-7 with Kaaya 7-yard scoring pass to Njoku. That early deficit disappeared fats. Canes are asserting themselves ... UM 10-7 with 40-yard Badgley FG ..... 1Q: Walton/Yearby 69 combined rushing yards in 1st quarter ... Miami, 7-7. Now that's how to answer, with a 75-yard scoring drive.  Fifty-two yardswere on ground, finished by Yearby's 10-yard score, but the big play a 26-yard by Walton on 4th-and-1 from midfield. Proper mini-gamble by Richt ... Ugly start. After a Virginia punt, Kaaya's first pass attempt is picked off, giving Cavs ball at Miami 18, and a 2-yard TD run soon follows. Virginia, 7-0 ..... Original post: No Canes fan is clicking heels over a 5-4 record, but bowl eligibility is the minimum standard for sucess, and at least UM will achieve that if it wins as a 10 1/2-point favorite today in the odd 2 p.m. start (Fox Sports Sun) in chilly Charlottesville. The Cavaliers are 2-7 and not very good, having Miavalost four in a row and having allowed at least 32 opponent points in seven games this year. However, UM coach Mark Richt does have two points of ammo -- beyond the fact no 5-4 team has earned a right to be overconfident, particularly in a conference road game -- in advising his troops to not take the Cavs lightly: 1) This has has not be a kind road trip for Miami. UM is 2-4 in Charlottesville and last won there in 2008. And 2) Virginia has its moments, as when it gave then-No. 5 Louisville a big fight just two weeks ago before falling 32-25. Miami will want a fast start to keep the momentum of last week's 51-28 rout of Pitt that finally ended a season-quaking four-game losing streak. The Hurricanes' offensive line figures to be missing two starters so protection for QB Brad Kaaya again will be a key. With a fairly clean pocket, Kaaya should strafe a pass defense ranked 109th in FBS, allowing 271 yards a game on average. The UM we saw in October would struggle today. The UM we saw last week would roll. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-20.

GUT FEELING POLL: WHAT WILL KAAYA DO?: I'm on record recently writing that I think Canes QB Brad Kaaya will opt to return to UM and play his senior season (column link here). But there Bkalso is much thought, assumption and belief that he'll opt instead to turn pro and enter the NFL Draft. The Palm Beach Post has reported that six teams including the Miami Dolphins have shown the most interest in Kaaya, along with the Bears, Cardinals, Chargers, Saints and Texans. The key to his decision may be his draft status. The thought is he'd turn pro if assured he'd be a reasonably high first round pick, but perhaps not without that assurance -- if instead the NFL consensus was he'd benefit from another college season. Nobody knows at this point. Maybe Brad doesn't even know yet what he'll do. He'll likely not reveal his decision until after the season. Meantime, I'm curious how Miami fans feel. Obviously the vast majority would hope he'll stay. But this poll isn't asking what you hope happens, it's asking what you honestly think will happen. What you predict. Try to make that distinction as you vote. Answer as if the odds were even and you were placing a bet on one choice or the other.

Other state FBS Week 11 games, chronologically, all Saturday unless noted:

No. 18 Florida State 45, Boston College 7: Noles, now 7-3, rolled as expected at home Friday night, fueled by Deondre Francois' three TD passes and limiting BC to 146 total yards.

Florida 20, South Carolina 7: Gators QB Luke Del Rio was out injured (again) but UF dominated in Swamp favorite over ex-coach Will Muschamp's Gamecocks.

UCF 24, Cincinnati 3: Knights dominated at home from start and became bowl-eligible at 6-4.

FAU 35, Texas-El Paso 31: Owls improve to 3-7 in a high-scoring shootout in the home nest. Hooooot!

South Florida 49, Memphis 42: SoFla Bulls now 8-2 and tied atop American-East, angling to reach conference title game.

Off this week: FIU (3-7), next vs. Marshall. FIU made an in-season coaching change and has lost three in a row entering next week's home finale. But just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for the Panthers, tight end Jonnu Smith's season ended when he was (according to police) burned with boiling water by a girlfriend in a domestic dispute. Good lord, woman!

National Collball Week 11 overview: Earthquake Saturday! No. 2 Clemson (to Pitt), No. 3 Michigan (to Iowa) and No. 4 Washington (to Southern Cal) all stunningly lost. Dominant No. 1 Alabama remains intact but the rest of the upper College Football Playoff ranking is now in turmoil. Fifth-, sixth- and seventh-ranked Ohio State, Louisville and Wisconsin all but assuredly will now elevate into the coveted top four.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 07, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.6%; plus UM, Kaaya crush Pitt 51-28 to end 4-game skid; also, The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings after 5 games (world premiere!), other state Collball Week 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5. Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 9 picks and column, Harvard stands tall, introducing Luddite's Heat MVP race & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On the Dolphins' changing identity: The Dolphins' sudden devotion to a running game could signal an identity change for a franchise in dire need of one. Click on Image Makeover for my latest column, in Sunday's print editions but online now.

A few of our other most recent columns: Week 9 Gems (our latest NFL predictions) and King Sport Halftime Awards (doling out midseason trophies), our two newest. Also: There's Hope For Us All (on Cubs' World Series win). A Needed Slap In Face (on NFL's declining TV ratings). Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did. The Whiteside Project. And Heat's System Reboot.

UM-Pitt live blog, postgame thoughts: Find 'em right there, right below the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 76.6%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a 76.6 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 51-28 home victory over Pittsburgh putting CsmUM's season record at 5-4 overall and 2-3 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Monday.

CSM poll analysis: I was surprised the Meter shot all the way up to 76.6 percent, its highest since Week 4. That's a pretty strong thumb's up for a 5-4 record, from a demanding fan base. But two things are in play. 1) Scoring 51 points is dressed to impress. 2) After four straight losses, you're so parched that even rainwater tastes like champagne.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

Next poll: Nov. 12 following game at Virginia

G9: HURRICANES 51, PITTSBURGH 28 : DESPERATE UM REVERSES SKID: Postgame thoughts: The four-game losing streak is over. Finally. This was the Miami that reminded you of the 4-0 team that was ranked No. 10 in the nation before the long skid. Mark Rcht finally gets career win No. 150. Brad Kaaya led the way with 356 yards throwing, four TD passes and another on the ground. The offensive line played much better. The defense was mostly solid. Special teams had a couple of big plays. It was an impressive all-roudn effort at home amid intermittent heavy rain as Canes busted a close game open. Lots to like, but it was Kaaya's afternoon ..... 4Q: Miami now 51-28 inside of final two minutes after impressive tackle-bustin' effort-run for 55-yard TD from Walton ... That'll about do it. UM up 44-28 with less than 4 minutes left on 25-yard FG ... Huge. UM special teams down punt at Pitt 1, leads to big 3rd-down stop and Pitt punt ... Then again, Pitt within 41-28 fast on 75-yard TD pass ... UM large and in charge at 41-21 on Kaaya's fourth TD pass of game and second to Njoku, from 5 yards out ... End of this four-game losing streak is close enough to taste ..... 3Q: One more big defensive play by UM: a Trent Harris sack forcing a Pitt FG try that sails wide left ... Another big defensive takeaway for Mami with end-zone interception by Rayshawn Jenkins ... MIA with first breathing room of game at 34-21 after 3-yard Kaaya TD flip to Coley. Score set up by Chad Thomas' fumble recovery at Pitt 8 ..... Halftime thoughts: Herky-jerky, back and forth game finds UM up 27-21 at the break. Kaaya 19-for-28 for 250 yards and two TDs, but not much ground game for UM other than one Walton run of 29 yards. Penalties also hurting Canes again, with seven for 68 yards including one that negated a TD pass. Liking Miami's chances to end the four-game skid, but a nervous lead ..... 2Q: Dropped pass forces Pitt punt, then Pitt special teams blows chance to down it inside 5. This is why average teams are average ... Kaaya sneaks 1-yard for score, Canes back up 27-21. Walton 29-yard run first notable ground gain for Canes to lead scoring drive ... Pitt takes first lead at 21-20 on 23-yard scoring pass ... Canes up 20-14 on Badgley 48-yard kick ... PIT within 17-14 on 12-yard scoring run. First points allowed by Miami defense ..... 1Q: Wow, Kaaya ends 1Q 13 of 15 for 180 yards, two TDs ... MIA up 17-7 late in quarter on 47-yard Badgley FG after penalty negates touchdown ... Defense need not apply today, apparently. UM back up 14-7 on drive completed by Kaaya 1-yard scoring toss to Coley ... PIT 7-7 on 100-yard kickoff return TD. Canes special-teams coach just dug a hole on the sideline and crawled into it in a fetal position ... UM 7-0 on Kaaya-Njoku 12-yard scoring pass to finish impressive opening drive led by Kaaya's 41-yard strike to Richards ..... Original post: You needn't be that old a Canes fan to remember the glory days, back when it took Miami about half a decade to lose four games. Well, the current team has lost four in a row, the first time that's happened in Coral Gables since 2007. And the last time a Canes team lost more than four in Pittuma row? That was a six-pack of L's back in Lou Saban's 1977. That is your context for UM and Mark Richt's desperation to win today vs. visiting Pittsburgh. Four straight losses have taken that 4-0, No. 10-ranked season and knocked it on its ass down to the ignominy of 4-4. Time to get up and finish strong, Canes, if you can. Today's 12:30 p.m. matinee, UM's next-to-last home game, won't be easy against a Pitt squad with a better record at 5-3. Miami opened around a 6-point favorite but kicks off as the betting pick by only 4. Trust in UM has eroded, because within the losing streak we have seen an undisciplined spate of penalties and an offensive line that has been plainly lousy the past couple of games. (Somewhere, Art Kehoe is either weeping or laughing, I'm not sure which). Brad Kaaya needs better protection, and Joe Yearby and Mark Walton need better blocking to get what had been a strong running game going again. History favors Miami. The U has won nine of the past 10 meetings between these schools, though a 29-24 Canes win last year saw Miami hanging on after a 20-0 halftime lead. The likelihood of a shootout looms. Pitt averages 38 points. And Kaaya (it says here) will have a huge afternoon picking apart a sorrowful Panthers pass defense that was strafed for 406 yards by Virginia Tech last week. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-24.

Other state FBS Week 10 games, chronologically:

FAU 42, Rice 25: Could there be a worse matchup on the entire national FBS schedule this week? Rice was a 4-point favorite in a duel of 1-7 teams, in a game only a player's mother could love. And maybe not even then. Go Owls!

Arkansas 31, No. 11 Florida 10: Gators were eyeing the SEC East crown but as mere 4-point road faves couldn't afford a stumble here against a 5-3 Razorbacks squad coming off a bye. I saw it as a challenging road trip for now 6-2 UF vs. an Arkansas team jockeying to improve its bowl position, and was right. Not surprised by the Florida loss, only by the enormity of it.

UCF 37, Tulane 6: Knights rolled at home to 5-4, now within one win of bowl eligibility.

Western Kentucky 49, FIU 21: Panthers fell to 3-7. The good news? With two late scores FIU covered the 31-point spread!

No. 22 Florida State 24, North Carolina State 20: FSU, now 6-3, rallied from 20-10 down late in third quarter to move past last week's crushing 37-34 loss at unbeaten Clemson.

Off this week: South Florida (7-2), next at Memphis, with Bulls still dreaming of poll ranking and spot in American conference title game.

National Collball Week 10 overview: Two games jump out that could have impacted the first College Football Playoff ranking. No. 1 Alabama kept its top spot with a 10-0 victory at No. 13 LSU, holding Tigers to 125 total yards and Leonard Fournette to 35 on 17 carries. And No. 6 Ohio State, trying to work up into that coveted top four, crushed visiting No. 10 Nebraska, 62-3. Nos. 2-3 Clemson and Michigan won easily but No. 4 Texas A&M suffered a stunning loss to Mississippi State.

Luddite HassanwWORLD PREMIERE! "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" DEBUTS WITH WHITESIDE OUT FRONT: Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 2-3 after last night's loss in Toronto, here's the debut:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (5 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside            176

2. Goran Dragic                  156

3. Justise Winslow              112

4. Tyler Johnson                 107

5. Dion Waiters                    93

Bubble: James Johnson 57. Others: Luke Babbitt 54, Willie Reed 41, Rodney McGruder 27, Udonis Haslem 5, Josh Richardson 1.

THE LIST: HURRICANES FOOTBALL LOSING STREAKS: Miami tries today vs. Pitt to avoid a fifth consecutive loss. The five most recent times a UM football team has lost at least four games in a row within a single season:

Year    #L    Coach / Quarterback (Final record)

2016    4     Mark Richt /Brad Kaaya (Currently 5-4)

2007    4     Randy Shannon / Kyle Wright (5-7)

2006    4     Larry Coker / Kyle Wright (7-6)

1997    4     Butch Davis / Ryan Clement (5-6)

1977    6     Lou Saban / E.J. Baker (3-8)

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 01, 2016

Dolphins need to quit giving up home games to London! Agreed or no? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Andre Johnson and Canton, latest SOPY standings, Cubs' historic challenge & more

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

Pumpkins1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1. Happy new month, y'all! Hope you had a great and Happy Halloween. I have a personal animus against fake pumpkins. Pictured right are the three real ones I carved that were on display last night as trick-or-treaters come to our door. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They ain't pretty. 3) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' 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): Canes fall at Notre Dame with CSM poll, state Collball Week 9, Hot Button Top 10, Jose and cocaine, Heat poll results, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jose Fernandez, Heat, Dolphins, World Series: Our most recent columns: Click on Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did, for our latest column. Also: The Whiteside Project (off Heat home opener). What Took You So Long? (Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot (season-preview column). The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi). And The Perfect World Series (Cubs-Indians).

FinsukDOLFANS GET SCREWED OUT OF ANOTHER HOME GAME: In 2017, for the second time in three seasons, the Miami Dolphins will give up an actual regular-season home game to "host" a game in London. Last year Dolphins fans were robbed of seeing the hated rival Jets visit Miami. Next year you'll be missing out on a rare visit by Hall of Fame bound quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints. Miami and owner Stephen Ross are obliging an NFL codicil that states a team awarded host status for a Super Bowl (which Miami was, in 2020) must "host" an international game within five years. Dumb rule. At least Miami won't be charging fans for a home game beine played an eight-hour flight from home. In any case, I hate that the Dolphins giving up a home game -- let alone twice in three years. More than fans take a hit; the Dolphins yield home-field advantage for that game. This sport is different. There are only eight home games. They are precious. Giving up one of eight would be the equivalent of the Heat playing five of their 41 home games elsewhere, or the Marlins giving up 10 of their 81 home games. Here's a poll that invites your opinion on this matter:

AjohnsonANDRE JOHNSON AND CANTON: Titans wide receiver Andre Johnson, 35, the born-and-raised Miamian and ex-Hurricane, announced today he planned to retire on Monday. Is Johnson a Hall of Famer? I think so. Perhaps not a first-ballot, no-argument guy. But one who should get to Canton eventually. Here are Johnson's pertinent NFL career numbers compared to the three most recent wide receivers to be inducted, with 'PB' indicating Pro Bowls:

Player                           PB    Catches    Yards    Avg.    TDs

Andre Johnson               7    1,062        14,185  13.4    70

Tim Brown (2015)           9     1,094       14,934  13.7    100

Andre Reed (2014)          7        951       13,198  13.9     87

Cris Carter (2013)           8      1,101       13,899  12.6    130

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 8 RESULTS: PIX IN A SLUMP, BUT LOBOS KEEP ROCKIN'!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL pix: Lousy week, period. Went 6-6-1 overall (with the tie game) and embarrassing 3-9-1 against the spread (with the Jets pushing). We're still a very solid 21 games above .500 ATS for  the season, but need to shake this two-week lull pronto. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos rose to 5-3 in the LeBatard Show league with a 138-114 spanking of Dan. That ties us for first place. Enjoyed balanced scoring, with four guys over 19 points led by Mohammad Sanu's 23. With a roster ravaged by byes, we'd just signed Sanu as a free agent late in the week, so that made us look smart. Let's keep it rollin', 'Bos!

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': CAN ANYONE SPOIL FLOWERS' GARDEN PARTY?: South Florida Bulls duel-threat QB Quinton Flowers (out of Miami Jackson High) has expanded his season Sopylead in the fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year. Second place Dalvin Cook, the Florida state running back, has played one fewer game, but even with that factored in, Flowers' lead is huge. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The number of games played for each school is listed parenthetically below. 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. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 10, followed by a new No. 1 in our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 9:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)                 Wk9        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb (9)            309.5      2,051

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb (8)                      208        1,512

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb (8)             102        1,262

4      4      Alex McGough, FIU-qb (9)                  223.5     1,159.5

5      5      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb (9)                  156          996

6      8      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb (9)                     123         937

7      7      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb (8)                   115         936

8      6      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb (8)                    46          884

9      9      Mark Walton, Miami-rb (8)                  89          845 

10   10     Gregory Howell, FAU-rb (8)                 29          729

Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 713. Other team leaders: McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 703.5 (8); and Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 594.5 (7). Week 9 best: Flowers, 309.5. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

THE LIST: TEAMS THAT HAVE DONE WHAT CUBS ARE TRYING TO DO: The Cubs trailed the Indians 3-1 before winning World Series game 5 last night. Should it win the next two in Cleveland, the Cubs would become only the fifth team ever to successfully overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven WS. Teams that have done it:

Year    Team                                    Series MVP

1985    Royals vs. Cardinals               Royals P Bret Saberhagen

1968    Tigers vs. Cardinals               Tigers P Mickey Lolich

1958    Yankees vs. Milw. Braves        Yankees P Bob Turley

1925    Pirates vs. Senators               None chosen

Note: Tigers and Yankees won last two on road, the challenge now facing Chicago.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 31, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 16.0%; plus new Hot Button Top 10, UM falls at Notre Dame 30-27, other state Collball Week 9; also, the Jose story that couldn't get worse, got worse (my column) & more

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

Finsat501) It is SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30. Enjoy your no-loss Sunday, Dolfans. And don't give up yet, Cubs fans! Miracle coming. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' 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. Pictured right, the book at Costco, which we are told has reordered due to demand. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat open season with polls, NFL Week 8 picks, Jose and alcohol, Dolphins Halloween, your Cubs-Indians verdict, The List & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jose Fernandez, Heat, NFL, Dolphins, World Series: Our most recent columns: Click on Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did, for today's latest column. Also: The Whiteside Project (off Heat home opener). Week 8 Gems (latest NFL picks). What Took You So Long? (Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot (season-preview column). The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi). And The Perfect World Series (Cubs-Indians).

 

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: 16.0%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a 16.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 30-27 loss at Notre Dame putting UM's season Csmrecord at 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 10 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

Next poll: Nov. 5 following game vs. Pitt

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCT. 30): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Spurs here Sunday bring season’s first real test: The new-era Heat is two games in and 1-1 with its first real test coming Sunday against San Antonio. But the early season’s big highlight is still ahead: Dwyane Wade’s return to Miami on Nov. 10.

2. HURRICANES: UM falls at Notre Dame for fourth straight loss: It was Super Saturday for the state of Florida’s Big 3 as the Canes revived their rivalry with Notre Dame, Florida faced Georgia in its annual neutral-site game, and Florida State hosted No. 3 Clemson. Alas, only the Gators got the job done. 

3. BASEBALL: Do Cubs fans believe in miracles?: World Series Game 5 Sunday night will be the last at Wrigley Field as Cubs, down 3-1, try to win their first title since 1908. The Indians last won it all in 1948. So that’s recently, relatively speaking.

4. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Report indicates cocaine in system at time of death: You thought the Jose Fernandez tragedy couldn't get any worse. But then it did, with Saturday's toxicology report indicating cocaine in Jose's system at the time of the Marlins star's fatal boat crash.  

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes voted 9th in ACC preseason poll: Duke received 85 of 91 first-place votes in ACC men's basketball preseason media poll. The Miami Hurricanes finished ninth of 15 teams. Could be a long season for Jim Larranaga's departure-decimated Canes.

10. DWYANE WADE: Ex-Heat star fined for throat slash: The NBA fined Wade $25,000 for a throat-slash gesture near the conclusion of his first game with Chicago. Dear Dwyane: Not smart, especially coming from somebody preaching an end to violence.   

Missing the HB10 cut: Like the Dolphins, Missing the Cut is taking the day off.

UmndG8: NOTRE DAME 30, HURRICANES 27: TWO DESPERATE TEAMS RENEW A FIERCE OLD RIVALRY: Postgame thoughts: Note: I needed to suspend my live blog on this game because I'd been called upon to write an unscheduled column on the Jose Fernandez/cocaine development. UM fell behind 20-0 early, fought back, but then could not hold on. Fourth loss in row for Miami. That 4-0 start and No. 10 ranking was a long, long time ago. Canes had very little running game today and defense overall wasn't very good ..... Original post: Saturday's 3:30 kickoff in South Bend finds Miami 4-3 and Notre Dame 2-5, the game airing nationally on NBC as an homage to two storied programs and a once-great rivalry. The betting-line Cathconvtrend has been interesting. Irish opened a negligible 1-point home favorite but enough money flooded to the Canes to swing that line to UM being favored by 2 1/2, and currently 2. I'll say this. A team that has lost three conference games in a row like Miami may take no opponent lightly, and Notre Dame does not seem as bad to me as its record suggests. The Irish have been competitive all year, their five losses by 3, 8, 3, 7 and 7 points. No blowouts there. Besides that, no matter Notre Dame's record any given year, "at South Bend" can still be a challenging trip as the ghosts of a program's tradition and pedigree rattle forth. Could be an intimidating venue for a mostly young canes squad. This was a great rivalry, once, back during the UM dynasty days tinged in controversy -- the T-shirt pictured harking to that -- but the schools are meeting here for only the third time since 1990. (I covered UM fulltime in 1984-88, made two trips to South Bend, and saw the original "Catholics vs. Convicts" painted on bedsheets hanging from dorm windows. The manufactured T-shirts came later. Good stuff!) UM has lost the past three games in the series including 41-3 on the road at Soldier Field in Chicago in the most recent, in 2012. I think that three-game Miami losing streak, as well as this season's current three-game losing streak, both will end in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. My pick: Hurricanes, 24-16.

Other state FBS Week 9 games, chronologically:

South Florida 52, No. 22 Navy  45: I thought Navy was overanked and overestimated and was right. Bulls, now 7-2, jumped to 28-0 early lead in Friday nighter and held on.

Houston 31, UCF 24: Knights fall to 4-4. Houston bounced back after last week's embarrassing loss to Southern Methodist that sent it cascading from No. 11 clean out of the polls.

Western Kentucky 52, FAU 3: Wheels are coming off on a miserable Owls season now at 1-7.

No. 14 Florida 24, Georgia 10: They call this the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," which pretty much describes every college football game I've ever attended or covered where red plastic cups outnumber human beings. But this is one of few enduring neutral-site rivalries. No surprise in the result. Gators have owned the series, 21-6, since 1990 including past three in a row, and at 7-1 should be knocking on door of top 10. 

Middle Tennessee 42, FIU 35: Panthers saw their three-game win streak end last week and were 17-point home 'dogs here. A good-effort loss, but Cats now 3-6.

No. 3 Clemson 37, Florida State 34: If FSU had any prayer of somehow still working their way back up into the four-team College Football Playoff (where they began the season), a home win here was an absolute necessity. But wasn't sure an FSU defense that had previously given up 34-plus points in four games this year could do enough to stop Deshaun Watson et al, and was right. FSU now with a third loss, yet probably not deserving to fall much in rankings.

National Collball Week 9 overview: The initial ranking of contenders for the four-team College Football Playoff will be issued Nov. 1, so this is the weekend would shape it. The AP's current top four is Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington. The latter two were at most risk on Saturday, with Clemson playing at 12-Florida State (see above), and Washington playing at 17-Utah. But nobody ranked in the top six lost.

JOSE FERNANDEZ AND COCAINE: Marlins ace Jose Fernandez had cocaine as well as alcohol in his system when he and two friends died in a boating accident last month, according to an autopsy report obtained by USA Today Saturday. Fernandez’s blood alcohol content was .147, nearly twice the legal limit of .08, according to the toxicology results in Miami-Dade County report. The others in the boat were not as intoxicated, with Eduardo Rivera's BAC at .065 and Jesus Macias' at .044. Rivero also was found with cocaine in his system. There has been no ruling on who was driving, although it has been assumed Fernandez was since he owned the boat. My thought on the latest development: There had been an assumption of alcohol,  but the cocaine news is jarring. It accentuates the tragedy, by underlining the fact is was so preventable. That is so should not have ever happened.

Poll result: You set a modest bar for Heat wins, but higher than Vegas: We invited you to predict the most likely number of Heat regular-season wins, and it was 36.9 percent for 41-45, 31.9% for 36-40, 14.3% for 31-35, 12.2% for 46-or-more and 4.7% for 30-or-fewer. So a plurality thinks slightly better than .500, which is playoff contention for a low seed. The most common Vegas over/under for Miami wins is in the 34-36 range, likely out of the playoffs.

Poll result: Post-Wade, Whiteside anointed favorite Heat player: We asked what current, active Heat player you'd call your favorite entering this season, and Hassan Whiteside led with 34.8 percent, followed by Udonis Haslem at 22.2% and Justise Winslow ar 17.9%. Then it was Goran Dragic with 11.5%, Josh Richardson 6.8% and Tyler Johnson 5.4%, with the remaining 1.4% voting "someone else."

THE LIST: CANES' MOST COMMON FOOTBALL OPPONENTS: Top 10 schools UM has played the most number of times:

No.    Opponent                UM record        Last met

59     Florida State           29-30               2016

55     Florida                    29-26               2013

35     Pittsburgh                24-10-1           Playing Nov. 5; prior 2015

34     Virginia Tech           20-14              2016

29     Boston College         24-5                2012

26     Notre Dame             7-18-1             2016

22     Georgia Tech           11-11               2016

22     Syracuse                  15-7                2003

20     North Carolina         9-11                2016

19     West Virginia           16-3                2003

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 17, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 24.0%; plus UM falls to North Carolina 20-13 for 2nd straight loss; also, state Collball Week 7 (updated) & more

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CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: 24.0%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 24.0 percent overall approval rating -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 20-13 loss to 1aa1csmvisiting North Carolina putting UM's season record at 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

Next poll: Oct. 20 following game at Virginia Tech 

UncvsumG6: NORTH CAROLINA 20, NO. 16 HURRICANES 13: THIS AND NEXT GAME WILL DEFINE UM'S SEASON MORE THAN FSU LOSS DID: Postgame thoughts: You can swallow a 1-point loss to FSU, perhaps. But this? Thuis was rthe toughest loss oif the Richt Era, 20-13 at home to a North Carolina squad Miami was favored by seven to beat. Miami wasn't good enough anywhere on the field. Defensively the Canes gave up 467 yards and didn't defend the pass or run especially well. Offensivelty Brad Kaaya was not sharp, only 16-for-31 though hurt by several drops. Just not sharp. And now UM must win Thursday night in Blacksburg to keep ACC hopes alive. Big loss. ..... Halftime thoughts: Did not see this coming, and I doubt Mark Richt did, either. Down 17 at the half. Blame on both sides. Miami defense has been beaten for 265 yards, air and ground. But Brad Kaaya's offense has yet to reach the end zone. I still sense UM has a big chance for a comeback win, but now the pressure is on. With what's on deck Thursday night, this was supposed to be the easy game. By the way, if UM scores four unanswered TDs in second half, I'll have an excat score on my pick! #Optimist ..... Original post: Bouncing back from crushing defeats was not a forte' of the Al Golden era, which is why Mark Richt is boss now. Let's see how the Hurricanes do Saturday at 3:30 at home trying to shake off that 1-point loss to rival Florida State. When QB Brad Kaaya said this week, "We can't let this loss define us," he was right on a couple of levels. As much as FSU Week was circled in red as Game of the Year stuff, it's the next six days -- hosting North Carolina Saturday, then at No. 17 Virginia Tech Thursday night -- that will better define whether UM gets where it wants to be this season. That would be in the ACC Championship Game. The Tar Heels and Cavaliers are fellow Coastal Division teams (Seminoles aren't), so these next two games will better tell whether Miami will have a chance to be playing for the ACC title come early December. UNC was ranked No. 17 before getting crushed last week by Va-Tech, 34-3, suggesting Saturday should be the decidedly easier of the next two tests facing the Canes, at home vs. in Blacksburg. UM is favored over the Heels by seven points Saturday. It isn't literally an elimination game in the ACC Coastal race, but is tantamount to that. Miami controls its own destiny in this race, so the next two games more than the FSU loss figure to shape how fans feel about Year 1 of the Richt era. North Carolina struggled with only 131 total yards for Va-Tech, while the Heels defense was beaten for 189 yards rushing. Could be a big day for Mark Walton and Joe Yearby. My pick: Hurricanes, 31-20.

Other state FBS Week 7 games, all Saturday, chronologically:

No. 14 Florida State 17, Wake Forest 6: Forget Wake's shiny record. Seminoles were favored by 21 1/2 but sputtered to a win. Post-Canes letdown?

No. 18 Florida 40, Missouri 14: Gators got QB Luke Del Rio back from injury and sailed in The Swamp.

FIU 27, Charlotte 26: Panthers with a third straight win since the coaching change.

Marshall 27, FAU 21: Sad season for Owls.

South Florida 42, UConn 27: Bulls getting very close to the Top 25.

Temple 26, UCF 25: Disappointing home loss for Knights.

National Collball Week 7 overview: College Football Playoff earthquake ahead? Nope. 1-Alabama crushed  9-Tennessee 49-10, and 2-Ohio State survived 8-Wisconsin 30-23. (And 3-Clemson got lucky in beating N.C. State).

Select recent columns of ours, ICYMI or wanted another look: Now the Winning Big Must Follow (on Panthers' high hopes off season-opening victory) / Week 6 Gems (our latest NFL picks) / As Tannehill Fights For His Future (latest NFL notes column) / Because He's Tiger Woods / Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance (off Sunday loss to Titans) / Close to Back, But Not Back (from Saturday's Canes loss to FSU) / With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose / Time is Right For Bosh to Retire / Demanding Racial Justice / Tebow's Dream / The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton.

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Twitter @gregcote