December 19, 2014

Dolphins, NFL Week 16 picks: 0.725%; plus Fleetwood Mac, state bowl-game winners, Heat 'n Panthers morphing, Marlins-Yanks trade, NBA-on-Christmas verdict & more

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20. No Random EVidence this week. The Sunday notes-column package is off for the holidays. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA-on-Christmas poll, Heat skid, Panthers surge, Philbin/Golden verdict, U.S.-Cuba relations & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 16 PICKS: "0.725%": The percentage at left represents the less than 1-in-100 playoff likelihood for Miami right now as it hosts the Vikings on Sunday, according to computer estimations 1aa1afripixfrom makenflplayoffs.com. Miami has the second-worst odds of any of 21 teams still mathematically alive (ahead of only Cleveland). It'll be win-and-pray for the Dolphins and several other teams as the better clubs clinch remaining playoff spots. Click on Week 16 Gems for all our latest NFL prediction capsules, which have a playoff-piocture theme. (Strong start to our week Thursday night with a near exacto. Jags beat Titans 21-13; I had it 20-13). Also, click on Overlooking Landry for my weekly Friday Page column. It posits that the Fins' Jarvis Landry is having a season that, most years, would merit offensive rookie-of-the-year consideration, but that, unfortunately for him, this is a particularly bounteous year for rookie wide receivers.

LET'S GO BOWLING: The glut of 39 bowls games begins Saturday. Astonishingly, 11 of the bowls (28%) either involve a Florida team or are played in our state. We rank those 11 by interest in South Florida, with state ties underlined, and with predictions by ESPN's Mark Schlabach:

1aa1adepend1. Rose (College Football Playoff semifinal): Oregon 42, Florida State 31. Jan. 1, 5 p.m., Pasadena, CA.

2. Duck Commander Independence: Miami 27, South Carolina 20. Dec. 27, 3:30 p.m., Shreveport, LA.

3. Birmingham: East Carolina 27, Florida 23. Jan. 3, noon, Birmingham, AL.

4. Capital One Orange: Georgia Tech 34, Mississippi State 30. Dec. 31, 8 p.m., Dolphins stadium.

5. Miami Beach: Memphis 31, BYU 24. Dec. 22, 2 p.m., Marlins Park.

6. Boca Raton: Marshall 45, Northern Illinois 38. Dec. 23, 6 p.m., FAU Stadium.

7. Bitcoin St. Petersburg: North Carolina State 21, UCF 20. Dec. 26, 8 p.m., St. Pete.

8. Outback: Auburn 42, Wisconsin 35. Jan. 1, noon, Tampa.

9. Russell Athletic: Oklahoma 31, Clemson 20. Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m., Orlando.

10. Citrus: Missouri 24, Minnesota 20. Jan. 1, 1 p.m., Orlando.

11. Taxslayer: Tennessee 28, Iowa 17. Jan. 2, 3:20 p.m., Jacksonville.

ON FLEETWOOD MAC: Saw the legendary band at the Sunrise arena last night and thought it was a great show. I've never been a huge FM fan beyond the obligatory heydays love of the Rumours LP, but as a huge pop music fan I am drawn to seeing all-time great perfomers I've not seen before. Thoughts: Lindsay Buckingham is a better guitar player live than is heard on records, but is rather insufferable as a frontman, his ego unhidden. Founding father Mick Fleetwood is terrific on drums and a delight to watch. Bassist John McVie gets too lost; he's too invisble, not musically, but onstage. Stevie Nicks is still playing the gypsy-poet. Not a huge fan of her voice but she is a commanding stage presence. The star, for me, is Christine McVie on vocals and keyboards. I don't think I would have gone to the show had she not rejoined the band.

 

1aa1ampradoMARLINS-YANKEES MAKE TRADE: Marlins today acquired infielder Martin Prado (pictured), pitcher David Phelps and cash from Yankees for pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, first baseman Garrett Jones and minor league pitcher Domingo German. I'd call it a medium trade, certainly not a big one. Prado, 31, who hit .282 with 26 doubles and 12 homers last year, will compete to start at third base. Phelps, 28, could emerge as a No. 5 starter.

HEAT, PANTHERS HAVE BECOME SAME TEAM: For years the Heat preened and reigned, and the Panthers were the forgotten and forlorn afterthought. Now the two teams have met in the middle: Mediocrity. They have morphed into the same team. The previous four seasons, the Heat's winning percentage was .718 and the Panthers' .381. This season:

Team        Record            Pos.    L10    Strk

Panthers    14-16, .467    T-7th   6-4    W2

Heat          12-14, .462     7th      3-7    L1 

Poll result: Most don't like NBA playing on Christmas: With the LeBron-at-Heat Christmas Day game looming, we asked what you thought of the NBA playing games on the holiday, and 61.2 percent were against versus 34.0% who were OK with it. The other 4.8% were undecided.

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December 08, 2014

Philbin vs. Harbaugh: The Dolphins coach-poll. Vote!; plus 'I Can't Breathe', Canes in Homophobe Bowl, Panthers trump Heat, Elton falling off chair & more

1aa1alebronshirt1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 109. LeBron James wears 'I Can't Breathe' t-shirt during warmups in honor of New York City choke-hold victim Eric Garner. 2) This week marked 34th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. R.I.P. to a music legend,  missed still. 3) See previous blogpost for results of our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (Not pretty). 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose to Baltimore, DSM poll & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Everywhere you look, Dolphins collapsing: Click on Collapse for my column from the stadium off Sunday's Miami loss to Baltimore. The gist: Offense, defense, playoff hopes, Joe Philbin's future ... everywhere you looked Sunday, the Dolphins were collapsing.

DOLPHINS COACHING SITUATION: THE POLL: [Note: Poll closes around noon today because we'll have a new blogpost by early afternoon] They say timing is everything in polls. If so, then this poll 1aa1ajimh
1aa1ajoep
is admittedly unfair or at least disadvantageous for Joe Philbin, coming so soon after Miami's most damaging (see below) loss of the season. Nevertheless I trust my readers to take a step back and a deep breath and see the big picture, the body of work and the playoff possibility that remains with three games left -- not just yesterday's disappointment. I also invite you to consider the likeliest replacement's off-putting-to-some personality that is largely why he almost certainly won't be back with San Francisco. All things considered, vote and say why you feel as you do.

Quantifying Dolphins' tumbling playoff shot: The impact of the 28-13 home loss to Baltimore? This morning, Miami stands ninth in the jockeying for six AFC playoffs spots, including tiebreakers. Last week Fins were No. 6. This morning, makenflplayoffs.com puts Miami's postseason likelihood at 14.9 percent. Last week it was 33.5%.

PANTHERS HAVING BETTER SEASON THAN HEAT: I've been waiting a long, long time to be able to 1aa1acatsheatwrite that headline. Just to see what it looked like in print. Sure enough, now is the time. The hockey Panthers are 11-15 having won four of past seven games to move into playoff pace, while the Heat are 9-11 after four straight losses thanks to some of the worst defense in the NBA. Even sans LeBron, we did not expect this from the Heat. Nor did we expect the playoff season that now seems possible for the Cats.

FIVE BOWLS THAT SORT OF INTEREST ME OTHER THAN THE PLAYOFF GAMES: The two Jan. 1 College Football Playoff games -- 1-Alabama vs. 4-Ohio State and 2-Oregon vs. 3-Florida State, plus the championship game that follows -- are all that really matter. But there are 36 other bowl games for the 72 schools that weren't top-four and yet are trying to convince themselves they had a good season anyway. Here are the five that interest me at least a little bit:

1aa1aduckDuck Commander Independence Bowl (Dec. 27, Shreveport, La.): Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6) -- Two disappointing .500 teams that hoped to be in a (much) bigger bowl) are instead relegated to a bowl sponsored by the company run by "Duck Dynasty" reality-TV homophobe Phil Robertson (pictured). Fun! Because the Hurricanes are involved, I am interested by obligation. Beyond that, a game between 6-6 teams is Exhibit A for why there are too many bowls.

Capital One Orange Bowl (Dec. 31, Dolphin stadium): No. 7 Mississippi State (10-2) vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech (10-3) -- Could be a good game. But does anybody outside of these two fandoms care even a little? Another game that interests me only by proximity and obligation.

Birmingham Bowl (Jan. 3, Birmingham Ala.): Florida (6-5) vs. East Carolina (8-4) -- Any luck working up excitement for this, Gator fans? At least it offers the storyline of new coach Jim McElwain's debut.

Miami Beach Bowl (Dec. 22, Marlins Park): Brigham Young (8-4) vs. Memphis (9-3) -- A blah matchup but a new bowl in an interesting venue. Giancarlo Stanton on the opening coin flip is a must, no?

Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 23, FAU Stadium): Marshall (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois (11-2) -- Another new South Florida bowl, and this one gets what could be a fun, explosive game.

Honorable mention: Texas Christian vs. Ole Miss in the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, only to see if TCU players will be wearing black armbands to protest being passed over for the four-team playoff.

1aa1aeltonfallELTON JOHN FALLING OFF A CHAIR: Happened on Sunday at a tennis event at Royal Albert Hall in London. Knowing the 67-year-old pop star is OK, it's funny. Click here to watch. Many will recall Elton's big hits including "Don't Let the Chair Go Down On Me," "Goodbye Yellow Broke Chair" and "Don't Go Breaking My Chair." 

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December 05, 2014

Dolphins, NFL Week 14 picks; plus NCAA's Championship Weekend, Winston verdict & more

1) It is FRIDAY/SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5-6. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jameis Winston hearing and poll, Scintillating vs. Silly at UM, Duke Johnson wins SOPY season title, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Barkley is right, RGIII video & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"I'd like to introduce you to a good friend of mine: Art Basel." --Greg Cote

1aa1afripixDOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 14 PICKS: The Dolphins will win Sunday but there is high alert for a Ravens upset here i a game that has  major playoff-related stakes. Click on Week 14 Gems for all of our latest NFL predictions, and I hope they're better than my Thursday night start. (I had Bears in an upset). Also check out The Golden Age for my weekly Friday Page column. It leads with the historically great quarterbacking now going on in the NFL.

CHAMP WEEKEND IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL: The glut of bowl games starts soon enough but first, this weekend, major conference championship games threaten to shake up the top four teams 1aa1achampweekendwho'll make the inaugural College Football Playoff. Right now the chosen quartet is Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Florida State ... but will they survive? The six games to watch (all Saturday except Oregon-Arizona, which is Friday):

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 16 Missouri in SEC championship in Atlanta -- Nick Saban's Tide rolls on.

No. Oregon vs. No. 7 Arizona in Pac-12 championship in Santa Clara, CA. -- Ducks win. Barely.

No. 3 TCU hosts Iowa State in a regular season finale -- No doubt. I-State is awful.

No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech in ACC title game in Charlotte, N.C. -- Yellow Jackets a trendy upset pick, but give me the doubted, disrespected Noles. Again.

No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 13 Wisconsin in Big Ten champ-game in Indianapolis -- Buckeyes must win and hope one of the above four favorites loses.

No. 6 Baylor hosts No. 9 Kansas State in regular season finale -- Baylor with a win has outside shot of sneaking into CFP top four.

Poll result: Most don't believe Winston: We asked if you believe FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, who denied any guilt in the rape allegation against him in this week's student conduct code hearing. Most didn't. It was 58.7 percent "no" to 21.4% "yes." Other 19.9% said they could not answer because the answer was not knowable.

1aa1arobstoreSOME SIGNS ARE MORE UNFORTUNATE THAN OTHERS: The pictured protestor holding the pictured sign was seen in Ferguson, Missouri this week related to the Michael Brown police-shooting and subsequent outrage, which included violent protest and looting. Dear Sign Holder: About 90 percent of the folks reading your sign are likely incredulous at the implication that robbing a store is somehow OK or an unavoidable happenstance. I might also directly answer the sign's message by suggesting, "Yes, a mother probably should have to fear consequences of her son robbing a store."

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December 04, 2014

Do you believe Jameis Winston? New poll. Vote!; plus Scintillating vs. Silly with UM fans, Duke Johnson wins 'state Heisman'; also 'Goodbye RGIII' video, Barkley is right, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4. I'm at Friday Page Headquarters today divining my Week 14 NFL predictions. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins edge Jets, DSM poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins catch a break: Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, a five-time Pro Bowl run-stopper, today was suspended for the remainder of the regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. So he's erased from Sunday's Dolphins game here.

WINSTON DENIES RAPE ALLEGATION: I have no idea whether Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is guilty and lying or falsely accused and telling the truth. Neither, chances are, do you. It's he-said/she-said, the 1aa1ajwinstonissue is consent and it's risky to make assumptions. Winston's long-awaited two-day student conduct hearing over the rape allegation against him ended Wednesday with no decision yet reached. Winston declined to answer questions but did read from a five-page statement, declining any guilt. In part: "I did not rape or sexually assault [the accuser]," the statement reads. "I did not create a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment in the short period of time that we were together. [She] had the capacity to consent to having sex with me and she repeatedly did so by her conduct and her verbal expressions. I never used physical violence, threats, or other coercive means. I never endangered [hers] health, safety, or well-being." Click here for the story. Do you tend to believe Winston based on your knowledge of the case? Take a dip in our poll, and try to separate whether you are a Seminoles fan or hater from what you honestly think.

SCINTILLATING VS. SILLY AT UM: What's scintillating right now -- Hurricanes men's basketball -- isn't getting the full attention it deserves because of the distraction over what's silly: the pointless speculation over football coach Al Golden. Jim Larranaga's men's hoopers are now 8-0 and surely will 1aa1ajiml
1aa1aalgrise from their No. 15 poll ranking after Tuesday night's 70-61 home win over No. 24 Illinois. Yet the obsession these days of UM fans in general and of the media seems to be the job status of Golden following a disappointing 6-6 season. All of this was perfectly reflected last night at the arena when a "Fire Golden" chant briefly bloomed, only to be tamped out by annoyed fellow attendees directing attention to the basketball game, please. (Pictured left, the heroic Larranaga. Pictured right, Golden, being chased by an angry mob). The Golden chatter is silly because it's moot. Golden's job is not in jeopardy; UM is not considering a coaching change. Maybe we won't be able to say that a year from now, but it's ironclad-true today. Yet false rumors percolated yesterday about an imminent firing. One local radio host reported he'd been told by a source that Golden was getting the boot; then, when that proved false, the same host Tweeted, "I'm NOT a journalist!" Effing hilarious. Meanwhile, a few Board of Trustee members continue in the role of shadow snipers, anonymously criticizing Golden. The Trustees should stop with the cowardice, and the local media should cease and desist with what has become a far too common practice of using anyonymous sources. Well, at least that's what I was told by a "close associate" of a journalism professor who requested anonymity!

SOPY: CANES' DUKE JOHNSON WINS "STATE HEISMAN": Well, something went right for the Miami Hurricanes this year. Duke Johnson went right. UM's Duke of Gables comfortably beats Florida State's 1aa1asopy 1aa1adukejJameis Winston in our season-ending, blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings: the "State Heisman." The SOPY rankings end with the 12-game regular season and do not include conference title games or bowls, so every school is on even footing. This is a cumulative ranking of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Florida only played 11 games, not making up its lightning-canceled opener. UCF plays its final game Thursday night, but the result has no bearing on the overall lead so we present the final rankings now. 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. The final 2014 SOPY Top 25:

SOPY FINAL 2014

Rk      Player, team-pos.                LW     Season

1        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         111     1,968

2       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb         90.5    1,844

3        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb     142.5   1,765

4        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            161     1,513

5        Justin Holman, UCF-qb           85     1,468.5

6        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            35      1,255

7        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        35      1,211

8       Alex McGough, FIU-qb            DNP   1,063.5

9        Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb       47        958

10      Matt Jones, Florida-rb             29        924

11. Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb, 906; 12. Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 881; 13. Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec, 874; 14. DeMarcus Robinson, Florida-rec, 830; 15.Breshad Perriman, UCF-rec, 815; 16. Treon Harris, Florida-qb, 799; 17. Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb, 797; 18. Mike White, SoFla-qb, 782.5; 19. Jonnu Smith, FIU-rec, 768; 20. Clive Walford, Miami-rec, 718; 21. William Stanback, UCF-rb, 667; 22t. Andre Davis, SoFla-rec, 636; 22t. Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 636; 24. Anthon Samuel, FIU-rb, 617; 25. Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb, 612.

SOPY Champions

2014    Duke Johnson, Miami-rb                1,968

2013    Jameis Winston, FSU-qb                2,107

2012    Stephen Morris, Miami-qb             1,900.5

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. FSU (12-0); 2. UCF (8-3); 3. Florida (6-5); 4. Miami (6-6); 5. SoFla (4-8); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-9).

BARKLEY IS RIGHT ON FERGUSON RIOTERS: Race is a fascinating thing. If I (white as a linen napkin) call the folks rioting and looting in Ferguson, Mo. "scumbags" it comes off as racist. Black Charles 1aa1abarkleycBarkley can say it -- and did. It's still controversia, but not the way it would be if said by a white commentator. Barkley is right, by the way. "Scumbag" is an inflammatory word, but do people destroying property and looting merit much better? I hate that the looters claim an entitlement based on their outrage over the Michael Brown shooting and the police-shooter's non-indictment. Righteous protest and civil disobedience are wonderful things, part of the our freedom. Looting isn't. Not under any circumstance. Barkley sounds more like Rush Limbaugh in calling the police "the only thing in the ghetto between this place being the wild wild West," and saying, "There's a reason they racially profile us at times." But in lambasting the looters, I can't imagine he'd get much disagreement from anyone but the looters.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 13 SEES PICKS UNEVEN, LOBOS PRAYING: We update you briefly every 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixweek on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: We went a fairly solid 11-5 overall but only 7-9 against the spread despite a pair of nice outright upset picks with Falcons over Cardinals ("Aawwk!") and Jaguars over Giants. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos won, 118-69, led by Calvin Johnson's big 38 Bird Day points, improving to 6-7 on the year. We're in a four-way tie for our league's final playoff spot entering the last week. However we stand fourth on the tiebreaker ladder, meaning we need a small mirale. Um, make that a large miracle.

GOODBYE, RGIII: A smart, expertly done ode to Robert Griffin III's downfall, to the tune of Elton John's Candle in the Wind:

 

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November 25, 2014

Ouch. Computers put Dolphins playoff shot at mere 19.7%; plus Canes' Duke nears "state Heisman," NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, (barely) remembering JFK, naughty names & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio on South Beach today with the Dan Le Batard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. A new "Back In My Day" is prepped and ready. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolfan and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter polls. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS PICK A BAD YEAR TO BE PRETTY GOOD; PLAYOFF HOPES SLIM: Miami at 6-5 has a slightly less than 1 in 5 chance (19.7 percent) to reach the postseason, according to the computer analytics at a site I 1aa1adol19.7have come to respect: makenflplayoffs.com. Following last night's end of NFL Week 12 the three clear AFC frontrunners, all but in, are the Patriots (94.3%), Colts (92.0%) and Broncos (83.1%). Then it's a mad five-team scrum for the last three spots among the Bengals (61.9%), Chiefs (50.2%), Steelers (47.6%), Chargers (47.4%), Ravens (39.9%) and Browns (38.8%). Then comes Miami, 10th overall in the hunt for six AFC tickets. The Fins' path to the playoffs from here seems pretty clear: Beat the three teams you should (Jets, twice, and Vikings) and find a way to beat either the Ravens or Patriots. Doable. But daunting.

SOPY: UM'S DUKE WITH SAFE BUT NOT INSURMOUNTABLE LEAD ENTERING FINAL GAME: Miami's Duke Johnson leads Florida State's Jameis Winston by 103.5 points entering each player's final game in our 1aa1asopyblog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." That's a nice but not insurmountable lead. The SOPY rankings end with the 12-game regular season and do not include conference title games or bowls, so every school is on even footing. This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been Winston (in 2013 with 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (in 2012 with 1,900.5 points). 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. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 14:

SOPY WEEK 13 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk13    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         132     1,857

2 (2)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb         142.5   1,753.5

3 (3)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      223     1,622.5

4 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           143     1,383.5

5 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           104.5    1,352

6 (8)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb           165      1,220

7 (6)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       106      1,176

8 (7)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb              8       1,063.5

9 (10)     Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb       131       911

10 (9)       Matt Jones, Florida-rb            27        895

Bubble: Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 839. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Florida and UCF have played 10 games; Miami, FSU, FAU and USF have played 11; and FIU has played 11.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (11-0); 2. UCF (7-3); 3. Miami (6-5); 4. Florida (6-4); 5. SoFla (4-7); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-8).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: PICKS, LOBOS BOTH SLIP IN WEEK 12: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team, 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixand this week's report ain't pretty. Pix: We went a mediocre 9-6 overall but only 6-9 against the spread -- breaking a season-long string of 11 straight weeks at no worse than .500 ATS. Had four 'dogs-with-points including Dolphins, but misfired badly on our Cards-over-Seahawks upset call, a bad pick. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos' three-game win streak ended with a mighty thud, 144-54. Never a good sign when your high scorer (Philip Rivers) has 13 points. The bigger issue was six guys in single-figures. Oy! The good news? At 5-7 I'm only one game off playoff pace (not counting tiebreakers) with two weeks left, so I'll have a shot if I can win out. Rally, Lobos!

REMEMBERING JFK (IF BARELY): This is what insidious time does. It fades even the most memorable of us. A year ago the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination was big news. The 51st 1aa1ajfkanniversary, this past Saturday, passed quietly. Do any of us even know when Abe Lincoln was assassinated? It was on an April 15, 149 years ago. So we may expect a proper media remembrance on the big-One-Five-Oh next spring, at least. JFK's murder is one of my faintest childhood memories. I vaguely recall us being sent home from school early and finding my mother weeping at the black-and-white TV set. On Saturday I was on a weekend cruise in the Bahamas and didn't give the date a fleeting thought. But I do now.

NAUGHTY 'N NICE NAMES: The Daily Mail of London reports a recent study of 63,000 (presumably British) school 1aa1anameschildren determined which kids tend to be naughty misbehavers and nice angels, based on first names. Ten nicest girls: Amy, Georgia, Emma, Charlotte, Grace, Sophie, Abigail, Hannah, Emily and Alice. Ten naughtiest girls: Ella, Bethany, Eleanor, Olivia, Laura, Holly, Courtney, Amber, Caitline and Jade. Ten nicest boys: Jacob, Daniel, Thomas, James, Adam, Harry, Samuel, Jack, Oliver and Ryan. Ten naughtiest boys: Joseph, Cameron, William, Jake, Joshua, Jamie, Lewis, Benjamin, Ethan and Luke. All I can say is, if Ella and Joe get together, watch out!

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November 22, 2014

G11: Virginia 30, Hurricanes 13: Playing for bowl position, and slipping; CSM coming Monday; plus FSU, Gators, FIU finale & more

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 12 picks, Jeffrey Loria publicly slammed & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1acsmCSM change: It'll be Monday, not tonight!: The Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll will not appear immediately following tonight's game. With apologies, because of logistical issues, this time only, the latest CSM will appear in the blog Monday. The same issues will prevent us from updating here live during the game. Thanks for the understanding.

G11: VIRGINIA 30, HURRICANES 13: ALL ABOUT BOWL POSITION NOW: Beating Florida State last week would have been a season-maker for Miami, leaving UM ranked and still in the hunt for an ACC title, 1aa1acanesvaand shaking up the College Football Playoff top four. Instead, the Canes' fall-from-ahead 30-26 loss left Miami left to wonder only about its bowl destiny. Current speculated destinations are the Sun Bowl/El Paso or Music City Bowl/Nashville, but that stock could rise or fall depending on results Saturday at Virginia and in next week's finale at home vs. Pittsburgh. Clearly, the Hurricanes must not have a cavalier attitude (sorry) about Virginia. UM is only favored by 5 or 6 points, and it's understandable. Canes have lost two straight and three of past four trips to Charlottesville, the only win in OT. So this is an opponent not to look past. Having said that, Virginia has lost four in a row and should fall prey to The U's Brad Kaaya/Duke Johnson attack as long as Miami doesn't demonstrate the post-FSU blues and come out flat. My pick: Hurricanes, 30-27.

Other Collball Week 13 state FBS games:

Florida 52, Eastern Kentucky 3: Last week Gators you lost to Steve Spurrier and South Carolina in The Swamp to get coach Will Muschamp canned. Now all your attention is on upsetting rival Florida State next week. Better not look past second-tier EKY. They didn't.

Florida State 20, Boston College 17: On home stretch to berth in first College Football Playoff, Noles were a 17-point fave but had to beware Sandwich Effect. BC isn't terrible but would be easy to ignore, coming between last week's 30-26 rally at Miami and next week's traditional rivalry vs. Florida. Sure enough, a Noles escape.

North Texas 17, FIU 14: G-Panthers were a narrow 'dog in their season finale, hoping to end year on two-game win streak. But they lost narrowly to end a 4-8 season.

Middle Tennessee 35, FAU 34: Underdog Owls were in final roadie before ending season back home at Howard's House next Saturday vs, Old Dominion. 

Also: UCF def. Southern Methodist, 53-7; and Memphis def. South Florida, 31-20. Off this week: None.

Check back often as we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

November 19, 2014

Is your opinion of Jeffrey Loria changing for better? Poll. Vote!; plus how Giancarlo $tanton celebrated (with pix); also Larranaga's Angel, new SOPY rank, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Schitt's Creek & more

1AA1ACADC1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20. I'm at Friday Page Headquarters today creating my Week 12 NFL predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's call. 2) AC/DC have a newe song out, "Rock Or Bust," from a forthcoming new album. Listen. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NASCAR dodges bullet at Homestead, Dolphins/NFL playoff picture, Kim Kardashian as a horse, Gary Shelton & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Click on Now, The Pressure for today's latest column, off the Marlins press conference making official Giancarlo Stanton's megadeal.


1aa1amoetgs 1aa1amoet3How $tanton celebrated his new megadeal:
(Yes, we've made the S in $tanton a dollar sign): Giancarlo $tanton's new 13-year, $325 million Marlins contract is being announced officially today, but $tanton celebrated late Monday, at the trendy FDR nightclub at Miami's tragically hip Delano hotel. He has officially entered the orbit of self-celebration that we saw the Heat's Big 3 perfect the past four years. According to TMZ, and seen here, $tanton was partying at 3 a.m. Tuesday with friends "and some very attractive ladies" and a $20,000 bottle of champagne that had been "gifted" him by a Miami party queen named "Julz." Yes, I said a $20,000 bottle of champagne. It was Moet Nectar Imperial Rose' Leopard Luxury Edition Methuselah, one of only 60 made, a 6-liter bottle coated in 22-carat gold leaf. Top that, D-Wade!
 

1aa1ajloria

WILL STANTON DEAL TRANSFORM JEFFREY LORIA'S IMAGE WITH FANS?:
 In my most recent column I write about the impact of the Giancarlo Stanton megadeal on the popularity of owner Jeffrey Loria. Click on Image Makeover to read the column in full. Will locking up Stanton for at least six more seasons (and as many as 13 more) do the trick for Loria? It can't hurt. Loria's unpopularity has run deep, rooted in years of gross underspending on payrolls and product. But now Mr. Cheap has OK'd a contract that would be a record $325 million over the full 13 years. How has that impacted the general opinion of Loria? There's only one way to find out. Ask. So I'm asking. Take a dip in our poll and vote what best reflects your attitude, right now, about Jeffrey Loria.

1aa1aangelrA HEAVEN-SENT ANGEL FOR CANES HOOPS: Miami Hurricanes stunned No. 8 Florida 69-67 in basketball Monday night ending the Gators' 33-game home winning streak, thanks to 24 points including a game-winning prayer 3 from guard Angel Rodriguez, a transfer from Kansas State. Jim Larranaga's guys are now 2-0 and likely to bomb into the Top 25 now.

SOPY: CANE VS. NOLE FOR STATE TITLE DOWN THE STRETCH: Looking like Miami's Duke Johnson vs. Florida State's Jameis Winston, each with two games to play, vying for season honors in our blog-1aa1asopyexclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 13:

SOPY WEEK 12 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk12    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         173     1,725

2 (2)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb         161     1,611

3 (3)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      BYE    1,399.5 

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            175     1,247.5

5 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb          179.5    1,240.5

6 (6)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        53       1,070

7 (8)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb           141.5    1,055.5

8 (7)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            98       1,055

9 (9)       Matt Jones, Florida-rb              69        868

10 (10)     Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb      BYE      780

Bubble: Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 769. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Florida and UCF have played 9 games; Miami, FSU, FAU and USF have played 10; and FIU has played 11.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (10-0); 2. Miami (6-4); 3. UCF (6-3); 4. Florida (5-4); 5. SoFla (4-6); 6. FIU (4-7); 7. FAU (3-7).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SLUMPING PICKS, SURGING LOBOS IN WEEK 11: We update you briefly every 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixTuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: Still lagging. Having a strong season, but our lull continues. Went 8-6 overall and 7-7 vs. the spread. Did hit our Upset of the Week call with Pats over Colts ("Aawwk!") and also had 'dog Texans, Rams and Raiders with points. Fantasy: Surge continues. Greg's Lobos won a third straight to make it 5-6 and move within one game of playoff pace with three to go. Won ugly, 88-76, my top scorer the 49ers defense with 15 points. But won. Go 'Bos!

1aa1aschittscreekCAN I SAY 'SCHITT'S CREEK' IN A BLOG? YES, I THINK SO: Cable's TV Guide Network, rebranding to the Pop network in January, has signed it's first scripted series: Schitt's Creek, a Canadian comedy starring Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara. (Schitt, of course, is a legitimate if unfortunate German surname). I'll give the show a try. Have liked Levy and O'Hara since their SCTV days; loved them in the movie Best Of Show. Also look forward to hearing a television announcer intone, "Coming up next ... Schitt's Creek!"

Check back often because we're constantly updating and adding to our latest blogposts...

November 16, 2014

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 47.6%; plus UM falls late to FSU, Stanton deal, new Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins wad Bills, DSM poll, NFL Week 11 picks & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Click on What Champions Do for my column from the stadium on last night's Canes-Noles game. I write that FSU deserves more credit than Miami does blame. Find our blog gamepost directly below the new CSM poll and latest Hot Button Top 10.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 47.6 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday night's 30-26 home loss to Florida State putting UM's season 1aa1acsmrecord at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. (That's easily UM's highest grade following a loss this season). The CSM, in its sixth season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

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2014 CSM results

G1: 6.7% (following 31-13 loss at Louisville) 

G2: 35.9% (following 41-7 victory vs. Florida A&M)

G3: 71.8% (following 41-20 victory vs. Arkansas State)

G4: 11.6% (following 41-31 loss at Nebraska)

G5: 73.3% (following 22-10 victory vs. Duke)

G6: 3.3% (following 28-17 loss at Georgia Tech)

G7: 29.6% (following 55-34 victory vs. Cincinnati)

G8: 80.4% (following 30-6 victory at Virginia Tech)

G9: 92.9% (following 47-20 victory vs. North Carolina)

G10: 47.6% (following 30-26 loss vs. Florida State)

Next Poll: Nov. 22 (following game at Virginia)

HOT BUTTON NOV. 16: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, an expanded, updated Hot Button Top 10. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Hurricanes: UM falls short as Florida State hex continues: Miami led last night all game until 3 minutes remained, losing 30-26. FSU and Jameis Winston did what they do: Being doubted, looking less than great ... then winning. No power shift yet in the ACC. I said yet.

2. Dolphins: Spanking of Bills enlivens playoff hopes: Happy days are here again after Thursday's 22-9 home win over jinx Buffalo. I'd mention Peyton Manning is waiting on deck in Denver, but I'm not a rain-on-your-parade kind of guy.  

3. Marlins: Stanton reportedly close to record extension: Slugger Giancarlo Stanton, 25, is said to be close to signing a $325 million, 13-year extension. Be honest. Raise your hand if you thought Jeffrey Loria, who led the league in being disliked, would ever be the owner to set record for spending.

4. NASCAR: Season champion to be crowned today at Homestead: I'll be down there as Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick race for NASCAR season crown today at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Any would be a first-time champ in latest incarnation of Chase for the Crown format. 

5. Heat: Still trying to decipher team in post-LeBron era: A 5-2 start, now two losses in a row entering today's home game vs. Milwaukee. What we know for sure about the Heat right now is that we don't know anything for sure.

6. College football: Alabama topples No. 1 Mississippi State: Nick Saban's home win, 25-20, will send the No. 5-ranked Crimson Tide leaping into the College Football Playoff ranking's coveted top four, and likely sending Mississippi State out of it. You get a chance to watch the game, Condoleezza Rice?

7. UM hoops: Canes men visit No. 7 Gators Monday: Jim Larranaga's UM men are 1-0 but get their first real test of the newborn college basketball season at top-10 Floirida Monday. Canes footballers just lost to a state rival. Let's see how the hoops guys fare.

8. Panthers: Cats begin four-game road swing: I keep reading how the season is on upswing. Hmm. When last I checked, Florida was 5-9, last in NHL in goals and 13th of 16 teams in conference. Can we raise the bar on "upswing," please?

9. FIU: Golden Panthers win home finale: FIU rallied to defeat Middle Tennessee 38-28 in their home finale to snap four-game losing streak. It was Senior Day. Based on reports, there may have been more Seniors being honored than fans in the stands. 

10. Soccer: Strikers fall short for NASL title: Fort Lauderdale lost at San Antonio last night 2-1 for NASL championship, Strikers' first time in Soccer Bowl since 1980 loss to N.Y. Cosmos in league's original incarnation. I may be only person in America both at the '80 game and aware of last night's.

G10: NO. 3 FLORIDA STATE 30, HURRICANES 26: No in-game live blog last night because of recurring online/connectivity problems from the stadium. ..... Original post: If No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama is today's collball Game of the Day, it's by a whisker over this one as unbeaten Florida State visits Miami at 1aa1acanesfsu8 p.m. in a nationally televised game that has FSU's 25-game winning streak and repeat-championship hopes in serious jeopardy. The Hurricanes are but narrow 2 1/2-point underdogs at Dolphins stadium, due to a combination of Jameis Winston and his Noles not being as dominant as last year, and UM playing its best ball of the season. The timing seems right for the homies. The U rides in on a three-game win streak and has won 13 of its past 14 home games as it tries to end a four-game FSU win streak in this ACC and state rivalry. Miami has not won at home over the Tally gang in 10 years. The sold-out stadium may be filled with nearly as many fans in garnet and gold as in orange or green, but there are reasons beyond the venue to like Miami. Brad Kaaya is having a better season, at least statistically, than Winston. Red-hot Duke Johnson is playing like a running back who means to make a late run at the Heisman Trophy. And UM's once-maligned defense has seemed to coalesce with more of an attacking style. Miami, the way it is playing right now, is a team that can keep pace with Winston in a shootout. And Lord knows FSU is overdue for a loss. I'll be at the game tonight columnizing. It's one of those "event" games that won't feel like work. Can't wait 'til kickoff! My pick was: Hurricanes, 31-27.

Other Collball Week 12 state FBS games:

South Carolina 23, Florida 20 (OT): Steve Spurrier back in The Swamp is always fun, even though this was an off-year meeting in which Spurrier's 'Cocks and his ex-Gators both are sloughing through disappointing seasons. Florida was a 7-point fave but game to me felt even, like no result would surprise. With good reason, apparently.

FIU 38, Middle Tennessee 28: FIU once was 3-3 and dreaming bowl but had spilled to four straight L's and was a 5-point 'dog here. But I rightly gave G-Panthers a decent upset shot in their home finale.

Also: USF def. Southern Methodist, 14-13, and UCF def. Tulsa, 31-17, Friday night. Off this week: FAU.

JUST IN TIME FOR HOLIDAYS, MARLINS' GIVE US THE GIFT OF STANTON: The Miami Marlins, of all teams. Jeffrey Loria, of all sports owners. That is what strikes you first when hearing that Giancarlo 1aa1agstantonStanton reportedly is about to sign the richest contract in the history not only of baseball, but of North American team sports: $325 million over 13 years. It isn’t that some team is offering him that. It’s that this team is. The Marlins, who are routinely among MLB's bottom-dwellers in player payroll. The Marlins, who have led the league in cost-cutting, fan-angering "fire sales." The Marlins, whose penurious business 1aa1adickens
operation has made Loria perhaps the most unpopular owner in South Florida sports history. This is astounding. Not less. It calls to mind (just in time for the holidays) Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in which Ebenezer Scrooge sees the light and transforms himself from a miser of cold heart to a man of admirable generosity. Scrooge, in the modern reenactment, is played by Loria. And convincingly, as hard as that is (still) for the mind to wrap around. Click on The Gift of Stanton for today's full column by me.

Check back lots because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

November 15, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 93.3%; plus NFL Week 11 picks, Tannehill and defense shine for Fins, Mega-Weekend off to roaring start & more

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today coaxing the Sunday notes-column package. 2) The Heat, in Wednesday's dreadful home loss to awful Indiana, were cautioning us, "OK, chill on the early excitement. This is the stink we're capable of." 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes vs. Seminoles poll, why NASCAR finale at Homestead is lacking, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

MEGA-WEEKEND FOR SPORTS IN MIAMI!: Celebrate, South Florida. Enjoy. If you are a fan of local sports, this is your dream weekend. Check your pulse if you can't find something that excites you. We kicked it off last night with Dolphins hosting (and beating) Bills. Today, UM basketball is home to open its season, and Panthers host New York Islanders. Saturday night, of course, Hurricanes are here vs. Florida State. Then Sunday, Heat hosts Milwaukee and Homestead-Miami Speedway has NASCAR season finale. Scintillating smorgasbord. Let's bleepin' go!

Click on Rescuing Playoff Hope for our column from last night's Dolphins win. Find our gameblog and postgame thoughts directly below the new DSM poll, and our NFL Week 11 picks below that.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 93.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Thursday night's 22-9 victory over visiting Buffalo putting Miami's season record 1aadsmat 6-4. The DSM, in its seventh season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:15 a.m. today/Saturday.

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2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

G7: 63.2% (following 27-13 victory at Jacksonville)

G8: 97.4% (following 37-0 victory vs. San Diego)

G9: 40.3% (following 20-16 loss at Detroit)

G10: 93.3% (following 22-9 victory vs. Buffalo)

Next poll: Nov. 23 (following game at Denver)

Click on Taking Back Control for yesterday's column previewing Dolphins-Bills, and on Thursday Game for my prediction capsule on the game.

G10: DOLPHINS 22, BUFFALO 9: THIS WAS ABOUT CONTROL: Final: Huge win for Miami in the playoff chase, and another reminder that very good defense and a plenty-good-enough Ryan Tannehill is a combination you can with with. I like that Miami, trailing 9-3 mid-third quarter and doing little offensively, roared to life, seized the game, turned a loss into a win. ..... Fourth quarter: MIA now up 22-9 on another short FG. Game time. ... Miami with its first safe-ish lead, 19-9, on Tannehill 8-yard TD to Landry with 11:35 to play. ... Bills' Carpenter wide-left on 47-yard FG try to tie. Lucky break for Fins. ..... Third quarter: Oy! Landry loses fumble on return of Bills free kick following safety, giving Buffs ball at MIA 39. That's 2-0 on turnovers, Dolphs on the wrong end. ... Fins now up 12-9, adding a safety when Bills QB Orton is called for intentional grounding while in his own end zone. ... MIA up 10-9 late in quarter on Tannehill 7-yard TD strike to a wide-open Brandon Gibson in end zone. ... Buffs up 9-3 on another FG (this from 48 yards) by the ex-Dolph Carpenter. It's a bad sign when your offense is such six points feels like a sizable hole. ... Miami punt begins second half. ..... Halftime: Even, uneventful game at 6-3 Bills. Tannehill playing well (14-18, 136 yards), but the difference thus far has been his costly fumble loss on a run. First touchdown wins? How about it! ..... Second quarter: Tannehill completes a pass to himself on a deflection for a loss of 4 yards. ... Bison 6-3 on a 21-yard FG, getting to a first and goal at the 6 and then settling after an 85-yard drive. These teams cannot close the deal in the red zone. ... A turnover and a red-zone fizzle all in one. Miami has a first on the Bills 14, gives it away on a Tannehill fu,ble loss on a run. A 33-yard Miller run is wasted. ..... First quarter: Buffs knot it 3-3 on 33-yard kick. Each team's long drive ate up entire first Q. ... Miami 3-0 on 38-yard Sturgis FG after another red-zone fizzle. Had a first down at 15; holding penalty hurt. Promising, though: Tannehill 8-for-9 on drive. ..... Original post: Miami must parlay its home-field advantage on a national stage tonight and take back control of this AFC East rivalry ... or see the loss of control in the 1aa1atnf 1aa1atnf2playoff chase. NFL Week 11 unfurls with urgency draping Dolphins’ first prime-time appearance of the season. When you are 5-4 -- presently tied for ninth in the hunt for six AFC playoff spots -- your margin of error has grown very small. When you have just lost a heartbreaker at Detroit and Peyton Manning is on deck awaiting you in Denver, you had damned well better beat the Bills at home. It’s an interesting matchup even beyond the two fandoms -- the first time since 2000 these divisionmates have met this late in a season both with winning records. I am surprised Miami is favored by more than three points, considering Fins are 1-4 vs. Bills including three straight losses in the Joe Philbin/Ryan Tannehill era. I think Miami will win tonight, but that may rely on getting the ground game going to take heat off Tannehill. There is an opportunity there; Buffs have given up 460 run yards the past three games. Miami also must protect its QB -- a load of a task, with LT Branden Albert out injured, and Bison defense leading the NFL with 34 sacks. A running game will deter the blitz and buy Tannehill extra time in the pocket. These are two big-time defenses and two offenses that both tend to struggle in the red zone, so I’d imagine a low-scoring game. That’s one more reason why the 5-point betting line feels a bit plump. My pick: Dolphins, 23-20.

NFL WEEK 11 PIX: KING SPORT STRUTS, PREENS: The Dolphins already have played, and yet the week 1aa1afripixgoes on. And what a week. For the first time in NFL history this late in a season, there are four games between teams with winning percentges of .667 or better, led by my game of the week: Tom Brady at Andrew Luck, also doing business as Patriots at Colts. Click on Week 11 Gems for our latest NFL predictions. (Break-even start to our week last night; correctly had Dolphins winning, but not covering). Also, click on Too Much Division In Playoff Math for our Friday Page NFL column. It leads with a suggestion the NFL start picking the best six teams in each conference, regardless of division.

Poll result: It's Canes over Noles Saturday night: We asked in the previous blogpost who'll win (you may still vote), and 68.2 percent voted Miami over Florida State. Naturally a blog hosted by MiamiHerald.com is predisposed to have more readers/voters who are fans of UM than of FSU. So what. It's just a blog poll!

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

November 12, 2014

Hurricanes vs. Seminoles: Who'll win? New poll. Vote now!; plus on NASCAR's Homestead Final Four; also NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY rankings & more

1aa1avetsday1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12. Thanks to all who have served in our military, present and past. Every day, not just on Veterans Day. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose heartbreaker in Detroit, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"Others are finally coming around now to 'Duke Johnson' and 'Heisman Trophy' in the same sentence. Our blog readers first read that from me Oct. 29. You're welcome." --Greg Cote

CANES-NOLES. AND THE WINNER IS...: Our blog's various polls rarely ask who'll win a football game, but Florida State at Miami on Saturday night has me curious how you feel. The Seminoles are a mere 2- 1aa1afsucanespoint favorite, which is rather astonishing considering they are the reigning national champion with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, No. 2-ranked and 9-0 with a 25-game winning streak ... while the Hurricanes are an unranked 6-3, albeit on a three-game win streak. The betting line is an amalgam of this: First, a broad belief that FSU is not (nearly) as good as last season and somehow vulnerable, even though they keep winning. And, second, that UM is playing its best ball of the year, has a hot Duke Johnson, a defense that has improved with an attacking style, and is primed for a home upset. I hesitated about doing this poll at all because, being in a MiamiHerald.com blog, it is predisposed to have a disproportionate number of Canes-fan voters. Still, there are a ton of Tally folks here, too. Besides, I think my readers are able to vote what they honestly predict will happen, not what they hope. Am I right? Forget the negligible point spread. You have a hundred bucks to bet the game straight-up. Who are you picking? Vote and say why.

HOMESTEAD GETS A NASCAR FINAL FOUR THAT IS LACKING: Kevin Harvick. Ryan Newman. Joey Logano. Denny Hamlin. That's it. Only one of those four drivers is eligible to win the NASCAR season 1aa1ahomefinal4championship this Sunday down at Homestead-Miami Speedway. From the perspective of a casual racing fan, I find the Final Four lacking for two reasons. First, while it isn't a no-name group by any means, it lacks anybody who is a national star beyond the realm of racing, such as Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jimmie Johnson. The final four is pictured. If you have no idea who's who ... that's my point. Second, it once again calls into question NASCAR's ever-evolving Chase for the Cup points format. Newman won zero races this year and had a mere four top-five finishes. Hamlin won only one race with seven top-fives. Yet one of them could well reign as the season's "best driver"? Can't see that. Anyway, griping aside, still looking forward to Sunday!

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: PICKS LAG, LOBOS SURGE IN WEEK 10: We update you briefly every Tuesday on 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixhow we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: Lagging. Having a strong season, but not helped much by going 7-6 overall and also 7-6 against the spread last week. Dolphins, Bills, Saints and Bucs -- y'all really let me down. Did have 'dog Browns and Jets with points to help continue my streak of no losing week yet against the spread. Fantasy: Surging. Greg's Lobos improved to 4-6 with a second straight win and begins to sniff playoffs. We won 162-139, led by 42 points from bulwark Marshawn Lynch. Lobos!

SOPY: IT'S CANES' DUKE VS. NOLES' JAMEIS: Miami's Duke Johnson vs. Florida State's Jameis Winston. I'm talkjing about Saturday night at Dolphins stadium, and also about the very top of our latest blog- 1aa1asopyexclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 12:

SOPY WEEK 11 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk11    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         BYE     1,552

2 (3)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        158.5    1,450

3 (2)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      63.5   1,399.5 

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            BYE    1,072.5

5 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           BYE      1,061

6 (7)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        142      1,017

7 (6)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            BYE       957

8 (8)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb             133       914

9 (10)      Matt Jones, Florida-rb             86       799

10 (9)      Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb        39       780

Bubble: Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 743. Week's best: Treon Harris, Florida-qb, 168.5. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Florida and UCF have played 8 games; Miami, FSU and USF have played 9; and FIU and FAU have played 10.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (9-0); 2. Miami (6-3); 3. Florida (5-3); 4. UCF (5-3); 5. SoFla (3-6); 6. FIU (3-7); 7. FAU (3-7).

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