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16 posts from October 2016

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 28, 2016

Opening Night! Heat lose home debut, 97-91. Post-Wade, who's now your favorite Heat player? And how good do you expect team to be? 2 polls. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Week 8 picks, Jose and alcohol, your Cubs-Indians verdict, The List (Dolphins) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28. 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): Cubs-Indians rooting interest poll, Joe Public hates Miami Heat (quantified), NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 7 results, SOPY standings, World Series lists & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Heat, Dolphins, World Series: 3 recent columns of ours: Heat opened its new season victoriously; click on Heat's System Reboot for my season-preview column. Click The 200-Yard Man for Jay Ajayi column off Sunday's big Fins win. And click The Perfect World Series for me on Cubs-Indians.

OPENING NIGHT! MYSTERY TRAIN LEAVES MIAMI STATION AS NEW-ERA HEAT STAGE HOME OPENER: Update: Heat blow a 19-point lead, fall Friday night to Charlotte in home opener, 97-91. Whiteside leads way with 20 points and 14 rebounds, but his second-half foul trouble really hurt. ...... It was a  pretty impressive little 108-96 Miami win in Orlando Wednesday to open the 2016-17 NBA season. I say "little" because Orlando isn't very good. Still, Hassan Whiteside's 18 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks, and five others in double figures including three off bench, was encouraging. Not so much: Miami was only 4-for-16 on 3's. At any rate the competition is a little tougher tonight in the home opener, with the Charlotte Hornets generally seen as a playoff team above the Heat in the Eastern Conference pecking order. ..... Original post: Heat opens its 29th NBA season and first without Dwyane Wade since 2002. The Big 3 is a memory, with Wade and Chris Bosh following LeBron James into Miami's past. A youthful nucleus led by Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Heat1617Johnson carries the franchise forward. (Dragic, Winslow and Whiteside are pictured). Architect Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra reassuringly still steer this season, but where it ends up, nobody knows. Wouldn't surprise me if Miami surprised the media experts and made the playoffs. Wouldn't surprise me Mysterytrainif they were lottery-bad. But the bettor in me thinks a competitive fight for that eighth playoff seed is more likely. (Click on Heat's System Reboot for my full season-preview column). Riley always uses 20 games, a quarter of the regular-season schedule, as the barometer it takes to judge a team or its direction. That brings us into early December. But the first two games will be a reasonable early gauge this time, because, in the Magic Wednesday and then the Charlotte Hornets in Friday's home opener, Miami immediately faces two like teams in the East -- teams the Heat must be better than to reach the postseason. As an example, ESPN's Power Rankings for the East's eight playoff spots have Charlotte ranked seventh, Miami 10th and Orlando 12. The Heat's third game, vs. league and West power San Antonio, will be sexier but say less about Miami's playoff chances than the first two games. By the way, Chicago at Heat -- Wade's Miami homecoming -- is game No. 7, on Nov. 10. That's in 13 days, not that I'm counting. We offer two season-opening Heat polls here. The first one invites you to set the bar on Heat expectations for this season in terms of regular-season wins. As a guide, a common range of Las Vegas over/unders for Miami is 34.5 to 36.5 wins. Remember to vote how good you honestly think the team will be, not how good you hope it is. The second poll wonders who your favorite current, active Heat player is in the void left by Wade's departure and with Bosh seemingly having played his last game for the team. Names are listed alphabetically. Vote in both polls, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 8: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: Let's get it on as Marvin Gaye would say. Let's get the roll back in Week 8 of our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the FripixMiami Herald -- and one of our best so far. We dipped to 9-5-1 overall and 7-8 against the spread last week, our first losing week ATS, but still we are a shiny 67-39-2 vs. the betting line after a proper start to our week last night. We called Titans covering 3 1/2 over Jaguars; click Thursday Gem for that pick. For all our latest selections click on Week 8 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. The Dolphins may be off, but the games chug on! We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with the Dolphins, their suddenly blooming ground game and how a run-first tradition has deep roots in franchise lore. Click on What Took You So Long? to read.

ON JOSE FERNANDEZ'S BLOOD-ALCOHOL LEVEL THAT NIGHT: Inevitably results are trickling out on the physical condition of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez and two others that might have led to last month's triple-fatal late night boating accident. Miami-Dade County authorities say a "strong odor of alcohol" was found on Fernandez and two friends, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Miami Herald and released by the Miami-Dade state attorney. It states investigators found evidence that the boat's driver (presumed to be but not known to be Fernandez, the boat's owner) was speeding and driving with "recklessness" that was "exacerbated by the consumption of alcohol." Toxicology reports are complete but have not yet been released by the state as the investigation continues. Bottom line: No surprises in this development: It had been pretty clear from anecdotal evidence and witnesses that all three men had been drinking, and that alcohol and reckless speed contributed to the crash. It only makes the tragedy all the sadder -- the knowing it never should have happened. R.I.P., all three young men.

DolhallDOLPHINS COMMUNITY SERVICE: Every Tuesday the Dolphins organization does something nice in the community. Yesterday, the club bought Halloween costumes for a bunch of local kids. Pictured here, a Dolphins cheerleader with two lucky kids as the three of them set a world record for making the friendliest scary faces. (Photo is courtesy of the Dolphins; click on it see a larger version of the image). Most of what the team does on their Tuesday off-days involves doing good and philanthropy. The past two weeks the team's good works also have involved the uncommon bonus of an actual two-game winning streak.

Poll result: Unsurprisingly, you're rooting Cubs over Indians: We asked about your World Series rooting interest (before Cleveland won Game 1 last night), and it was Cubs 63.0 percent, Indians 27.6% and undecided 9.4%.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS TWO-GAME HOME WINNING STREAKS: A modest little streak, winning two games in a  row at home. But, for Miami, not as common as you might think. The five most recent times before now that the Fins have won consecutive games in Miami within a single season:

Year        Opponents beaten          Dates

2016        Steelers, Bills                Current

2012        Jaguars, Bills                Dec. 16 & 23

2011        Redskins, Bills              Nov. 13 & 20

2009        Bills, Jets                      Oct. 4 & 12

2008        Seahawks, Raiders        Nov. 9 & 16

2006        Chiefs, Vikings             Nov. 12 & 19

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 25, 2016

Who do you hope will be celebrating World Series title: Cubs or Indians? Poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 7 results, Joe Public hates the Miami Heat (quantified), SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25. Click on 30 Greatest Sports Movies for Rolling Stone's list. 2) A computer simulator I like, makenflplayoffs.com, has the Dolphins playoff chances at 20.8 percent at 3-4. At 1-4, it was 0.7%. (See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter, showing a season-high approval  rating. 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): Dolphins beat Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Somebody asked me today if Arian Foster was a Hall of Famer. Seriously. Answer: Zero chance. None. Not even a conversation." --Greg Cote

Our Miami Heat season preview column: Heat opens its new season on Wednesday, leaving the Big 3 era behind and starting anew. Click on Heat's System Reboot to read. For my two previous columns, click The 200-Yard Man (from Sunday's big Dolphins home win) and The Perfect World Series (on Cubs-Indians).

2016ws CubsindiansCUBS-INDIANS: WHO DO YOU HOPE WINS THE 'PERFECT WORLD SERIES'?: I call Cubs-Indians "The Perfect World Series," because it matches the two teams -- of the 122 in the Big Four sports -- whose fans have waited longest to cheer a championship. With Cubs fans it has famously been since 1908, which, someone just told me, was literally before the invention of sliced bread. For Indians fans it has been since 1948. Imagine: Cleveland's near 70-year-old championship means the Indians have won recently, relatively speaking. In a perfect world, they could both win. In the real one, one fandom's misery will end and the others' will continue. Chicago and Cleveland are only about 300 miles apart (closer than Miami to Jacksonville), so this Series has a regional feel as well as an historic one that should make it highly rated nationally as we await Game 1 Tuesday night. Cubs are the betting favorites -- at 10-19 to Cleveland's 17-10, per Bovada -- so the Indians are the literal underdogs even if the Cubs are the historical ones. (We have two Lists below here that both are World Series-related). ESPN's 32-person panel of baseball experts, which sounds like about two dozen experts too many, goes 26-6 for the Cubbies. I'm curious who our readers are rooting for and why. Only one way to find out. Take a dip in our poll and vote.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 7 RESULTS: SLIGHT PAUSE IN ASTOUNDING 'ATS' ROLL, BUT LOBOS WIN BIG!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL picks: Tough week, as I thought it might be. Went 9-5-1 overall and 7-8 against the spread, our first losing week vs. the betting line. We bull's-eye yet another Upset of the Week with Dolphins beating Bills ("Aawwk!"), and also called Colts' upset win at Titans. We're still a terrific 27 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos rose to 4-3 in the LeBatard Show league with a rollicking 160-104 rout of Randy Scott. Four players topping 20 points all but assures a W and we had Melvin Gordon with 36, Randall Cobb 28, Drew Brees 24 and Delanie Walker 21. We're on playoff pace. Go 'Bos!

IT'S OFFICIAL: JOE PUBLIC HATES THE MIAMI HEAT: Former betting darlings in the Big 3 era, the Heat have become the team America is now betting against as the team prepares to open the new season Wednesday night. Our friends at Bovada tell us Miami is attracting the highest percentage of "under" bets in the NBA, meaning bets placed on the team to fall short of the over/under on victories, which for the Heat is around 36. The "under" percentage on Miami is running 88 percent, topping Detroit's 82% and Memphis' 81%. Teams most being bet "over" are Lakers at 92%, Trail Blazers at 90% and Rockets at 87%. In terms of money being bet on who'll win the championship, it's 38.4% on Golden State and 15.6% on Cleveland. Only others over five percent are San Antonio 8.7, Boston 5.3 and Oklahoma City 4.4.

SopySOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': BYES WREAK HAVOC AS FLOWERS GROWS LEAD, KAAYA CLIMBS TO 7TH: South Florida QB Quinton Flowers (out of Miami Jackson High) has expanded his season lead 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. 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 9, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 8:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)                 Wk8        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb (8)            201.5      1,741.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb (7)                      BYE        1,304

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb (7)             BYE        1,160

4      5      Alex McGough, FIU-qb (8)                  153.5       936

5      7      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb (8)                  106          840

6      4      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb (7)                   BYE          838

7      9      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb (7)                  118.5       821

8      6      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb (8)                     66           814

9      8      Mark Walton, Miami-rb (7)                  49          756 

10   10     Gregory Howell, FAU-rb (7)                BYE         700

Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 659. Other team leaders: McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 605 (7); and Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 552 (6), Week 8 best: Flowers, 201.5. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

THE LIST I: CHAMPIONSHIP DROUGHTS: The five longest ongoing championship droughts in each of the Big Four sports. Teams whose fans have waited the most years to cheer another or a first championship:

MLB: Cubs 108 years, Indians 68, Astros 55, Padres 48, Brewers 47.

NFL: Lions 59 years, Eagles 55, Vikings 55, Browns 52, Chargers 52.

NBA: Nuggets 49 years, Hawks 48, Suns 48, Bucks 45, Knicks/Pacers 43.

NHL: Maple Leafs 48 years, Blues 47, Canucks 45, Sabres 45, Capitals 41.

SOUTH FLORIDA: Dolphins 42 years, Panthers 22, Marlins 13, Heat 3.

Note: Dolphins' wait is only 11th-longest in NFL.

THE LIST II: CUBS/INDIANS TITLE DROUGHTS: Times both teams have been in a World Series since last winning one:

Cubs, since 1908

Year    Opponent                Result      Cubs HR leader

1945    Detroit Tigers         L4-3        Bill Nicholson, 13

1938    New York Yankees   L4-0        Ripper Collins, 13

1935    Detroit Tigers         L4-2        Chuck Klein, 21

1932    New York Yankees   L4-0        Johnny Moore, 13

1929    Philadelphia A's      L4-1        Rogers Hornsby/Hack Wilson, 39

1918    Boston Red Sox       L4-2        Max Flack, 4

1910    Philadelphia A's      L4-1        Frank Schulte, 10

Indians, since 1948

Year    Opponent                Result      Indians HR leader

1997    Florida Marlins        L4-3        Jim Thome, 40    

1995    Atlanta Braves        L4-2        Albert Belle, 50

1954    New York Giants     L4-0        Larry Doby, 32

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

Twitter @gregcote

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 90.9%; plus Fins beat Buffalo 28-25 behind Ajayi's 214 rushing yards. Our column from game; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Cubs vs. Indians & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 24. Fivethirtyeight.com says Hillary Clinton has an 86.2 percent chance to beat Donald Trump. ESPN's Football Power Index said Sunday's biggest favorite was Bengals over Browns at 81.7%. 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 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes fall at Virginia Tech with CSM poll, Panthers reign in ESPN Ultimate Standings, NFL Week 7 picks, other state Collball & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Cubs-Indians World Series: Cubs seek their first World Series title since 1908 and Indians their first since 1948 -- the two longest championship droughts among the 122 teams in the major Big Four sports. Click on The Perfect World Series for my column.

Dolphins get physical as Ajayi leads wayClick on The 200-Yard Man for my column from Sunday's bg Dolphins home win over Buffalo. Find our Fins-Bills in-game blog immediately below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 90.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 90.9 percent overall approval --the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 28-25 victory over the visiting Buffalo Bills Dsmputting Miami's season record at 3-4. 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 10:30 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)

Next poll: Nov. 6 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets, after bye week)

DSM poll analysis: A rating just above 90 percent is of course really high for a team at 3-4, but it reflects two huge wins in a row and the manner in which they happened. It also reflects, I think, the desperation of Dolfans to feel good about their team. 

G7: DOLPHINS 28, BUFFALO 25: MIAMI ENTERS BYE WEEK ON A ROLL: Postgame thoughts: Jay Ajayi had 212 yards rushing after 204 last week -- only the fourth RB in NFL history with consecutive 200s. That was the story of the day for Miami in this hard-fought 28-25 win. But so was this: Resilience. The Dolphins rallied from a 17-6 deficit by doing what they have not done very well or often since last making the playoffs in 2008. They won a division game. They won a home game. And they followed a victory with a victory. That is what good teams do. And the Miami Dolphins have looked like just that the past two weeks. A good team. At 3-4 now, the Fins have given themselves a chance to save this season, and the right to think the playoffs are still possible ..... 4Q: BUF within 28-23 on Bush 1Y scoring run with 14 seconds to play ... MIA up 28-17 with 2:24 left after Stills 66Y scoring pass from Tannehill. Dolphins once trailed 17-6. What a comeback! ... MIA up 21-17 with 3:56 left on Williams 12Y scoring run. Ajayi now has 212 yards rushing after 204 last week. Is fourth in NFL history with consecutive 200s, after O.J. Simpson in 1973 and '76, Earl Campbell in 1980, and Dolphin Ricky Williams in 2002 ... Ajayi busts 53Y run giving him 195 for day, after 204 last week. But series ends in punt. Story of day ... Suh sack forces punt, but that punt pins Miami at its own 1-yard line. Um, 99-yard drive, anyone? ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-14 on impressive 75-yard drive finished by Ajayi's 4Y scoring run in last minute of quarter, and Tannehill's 2-point conversion pass to Landry ..... McCoy aggravates hamstring injury, won't return, a break for MIA ... BUF 17-6 on 67-yard scoring bomb from Taylor to Goodwin. Maxwell (who played so well vs. Antonio Brown a week earlier) was beaten in coverage. Game slipping from Miami unless the Fins offense wakes up big, and fast ... DE Jason Jones sack forces Buffalo punt ... Tannehill slightly underthrew a deep ball to Stills but still looked catchable. Woulda/shoulda been at least a 40-yard gain ... Miami forces Bills punt to open second half ..... Halftime thoughts: Feels like Miami should be ahead, not trailing 10-6. Fins lead almost 2-1 in time of possession, and in yards 194-110, but have settled on a pair of field goals after 7- and 8-minute drives. Miami's defense has been solid and Jay Ajayi (12-99) has been great. But Ryan Tannehill (10-17, 86 yards) has been subpar, and mistakes -- special-teams inefficiency, holding penalties and an out of control Jarvis Landry -- have hurt. Winnable game, for sure ..... 2Q: MIA within 10-6 on 33Y Franks FG but settle again. Had 1st-and-10 from 11 but a holding penalty really hurt ... BUF 10-3 on Taylor 10Y scoring run. First time today Miami has trailed ..... 1Q: A 26-yard completion to Landry wiped out by his taunting penalty. Dumb, dumb ... BUF 3-3 on 29Y FG by ex-Fin Carpenter. Miami special teams gives up 30-yard Bills punt return to set up the score ... Wake sack forces Bills punt ... MIA 3-0 on Franks 36Y FG. Settled, though, after impressive 14-play drive petered out ... Dolphins looking good in their throwback, dark-aqua uniforms; end zones also with a throwback diamond-shape look Miami oughta go back to these unis! ..... Original post: The three reasons why today is yuuuuuge for Miami: 1)  Since the Dolphins last made the playoffs in 2008, the team is 17-26 (.395) in division games, which ranks 26th of 32 teams and last in the AFC East. 2) Miami's overall home record since then is 27-31 (.466), which ranks 25th overall and last in the division. 3) The Dolphins in that time are 16- Bufmia32 (.333) in games immediately following a win, which is 30th in the NFL, last in the A-East. Conclusion? This explains a playoff drought now in its eighth year. The Dolphins do not TCB (Take Care of Business) in fundamental ways. Don't do well in division games. Don't win at home. And don't build and sustain momentum. Now, today -- in a home game vs. a division foe following a big win -- Miami gets another chance. The challenge is high. Buffalo may be the hottest team in the NFL, a sentence rarely written or said. The 4-2 Bills have won four games in a row by a combined score of 124-53. Bullies Rex Ryan and Richie Incognito arrive preening. And the Buffs are a 3-point betting favorite to continue their streak and bring the Fins back to earth after last week's exhilarating home win vs. Pittsburgh. Blowhard Rex has won his past four trips to the 305 (Jets included), but I'm hunching that run hits a wall on Sunday. No, I’m not entirely buying what we saw of Miami in that 30-15 beatdown of the Steelers. The 2-4 Fins still must prove that was no mirage. But a healthy offensive line, the Jay Ajayi we saw last week and a sack-free Ryan Tannehill makes a huge difference. (Tanny, by the way, has thrown for 300-plus yards in five consecutive division games.) Mostly, I pin this upset on the Buffs swaggering in overconfident, hot as they are and having swept Miami last season by a combined 74-31. Buffalo is pretty good; it isn’t that good. The Bills’ big edge would be its top-ranked ground game vs. what has been a shaky Miami run-D, but LeSean McCoy (hamstring) will be less than himself if he plays at all, which also factors in this pick. Buffs are plus-8 on turnovers to Fins’ minus-5, so a clean game by Miami will be the key. By the way, Buffalo has lost the past four times it came here with a winning record. Make it five. My pick: Upset! Dolphins, 24-20.

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. DOLPHINS: Miami gets physical, rides Ajayi past Buffalo in huge division test: Since last making the playoffs in 2008 the Dolphins ranked 25th in the NFL in home record (.466), 26th in division record (.395) and 30th in record following a win (.333). That's why Sunday's win was triply big -- at home, vs. Buffalo, following a big win. Jay Ajayi's second straight 200-yard rushing game helped.

2. HEAT: Opening Week as team enters new era: NBA tips off Tuesday night and Heat open their 29th season Wednesday in Orlando, then Friday at home vs. Charlotte. No Big 3. No Big 2. No Wade. No Bosh. No earthly idea how good this rebooted Miami team might be as a transitional season begins new era.

3. HURRICANES: Season slipping after big loss in Blacksburg: Wasn't it about a minute ago UM was 4-0 and ranked No. 10? Three straight conference losses later including Thursday's 37-16 spanking at Virginia Tech have the Canes reeling, with a trip to South Bend looming Saturday. Oh, and how was that honeymoon, Mark Richt? Because it's over.

4. BASEBALL: At last, Cubs-Indians World Series on deck: The Cleveland Indians were waiting as the Cubs and Dodgers decided the NL pennant Saturday night. And so there is a god: It'll be Cubbies in World Series Game 1 Tuesday night in search of team's first championship since 1908.

5. PANTHERS: Jagr scores 750th career goal: Cats are five games into this young NHL season as they face a four-game road trip, but headline so far is Jaromir Jagr's 750th goal. You know how they say you're judged by the company you keep? Jagr trails only two people in career goals. Their names: Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Alabama protects its No. 1 ranking: Just over a week from the first College Football Playoff ranking on Nov. 1, No. 2 Ohio State fell to Penn State but Alabama protected its top spot Saturday by beating Texas A&M. You might not like Nick Saban. But you can't beat him, either.

7. NASCAR: Contenders field cuts to eight: NASCAR cut down to its final eight contenders for the Sprint Cup with Sunday's race at Talladega. All that matters now: the cut to one driver on Nov. 20 at Homestead.

8. NFL: League' last remaining unbeaten falls: Minnesota Vikings were NFL's lone unbeaten team entering Week 7. No more. Early celebrating this year for the '72 Dolphins.

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Sneakin' up. Almost here...: In less than three weeks, on Nov. 11, most college basketball teams including the Hurricanes open their regular season. Coincidentally, on that same date, we'll still be wondering if Trump will ever concede.

10. WNBA: Sparks edge Lynx for crown, sort of: Los Angeles Sparks beat Minnesota Lynx 77-76 for the WNBA title, at least in part because of a late officiating error the league acknowledged. So Trump was right. The whole thing was rigged!

Missing the HB10 cut: A young woman wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt kneeled while singing the national anthem prior to a Heat preseason game in Miami. I wonder what Francis Scott Key would make of all this. Tried to reach him, but he's been dead for 173 years ..... Mets prospect Tim Tebow finally got a hit in the Arizona Fall League, after starting 0-for-12. "Back in my day, kneeling meant you were praying," noted Tebow ..... America is slightly less violent today. UFC announced it has cut several fighters from its roster with an eye on reducing its schedule in 2017 ..... Jose Fernandez's mother, in a letter to the Miami Herald, thanked fans for their outpouring of grief and love upon his tragic death. R.I.P., Jose.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 22, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 20.3%; plus Canes fall 37-16 at Va-Tech for 3rd straight L; also, where Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers rank in ESPN 'Ultimate Standings,' NFL Week 7 pix, deconstructing Fins playoff drought & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill challenges team, in wake of exhilarating surprise over Pittsburgh, to "show up like this every week." Click on Tannehill's Challenge to read my column. 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 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 6 results, SOPY rankings, false nobility of the third-party candidate & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 20.3%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 20.3 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday's 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech putting CsmUM's season record at 4-3 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 was around 9 a.m. today/Saturday.

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

Next poll: Oct. 29 following game at Notre Dame

Espnultimate PanthersPANTHERS ARE THE BIG SOUTH FLORIDA WINNERS IN 2016 ESPN ULTIMATE STANDINGS: Each year ESPN The Magazine ranks, top to bottom, the 122 teams in MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL to come up with its "Ultimate Standings," based on eight criteria: affordability, coaching, fan relations, ownership, players, stadium experience, title track and bang for the buck. It's inexact, but fun. Click here for the full rankings. Here is how Greater Miami's Big Four pro teams fared:

Panthers No. 7 -- Top 10 overall is a big deal, and that's up from No. 48 one year earlier. Florida is judged third among all NHL clubs.

Heat No. 53 -- That's a sharp drop from 21st overall last year. Miami is slotted a mid-pack 15th among NBA teams.

Marlins No. 91 -- It was No. 106 a year ago, so, progress, I guess. Fish are ranked 25th among baseball teams.

Dolphins No. 106 -- That's down from 92nd last year. And Miami is judged a lowly 26th among NFL franchises.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 7: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: The big wheel keeps rollin'! It's our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald and one of our best so far. For our latest selections click on Week 7 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest prediction capsules for Dolphins-Bills, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. Got off to a great start with Chicago-Green Bay last night, accurately predicting the Packers would cover a 7 1/2-point line; click Thursday Gem for that capsule. We're now a very, very good (almost surreal) 60-31-2 against the spread heading into Sunday's schedule. We also have our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with a deconstruction of why the Dolphins suffer a playoff drought into its eighth season. I quantify two main areas (actually, three) where Miami has consistently fallen short. Click on (Not) Takin' Care Of Business to read.

G7: VIRGINIA TECH 37, HURRICANES 16: DREAMS OF REACHING ACC TITLE GAME CRUSHED IN BLACKSBURG: Final thoughts: Three weeks ago Miami was 4-0 and ranked No. 10 in nation. Now the Canes have lost a third straight conference game to make it 4-3 in a Thursday night loss that all but kills any chance of reaching the ACC championship game. Miami's injury-depleted defense was beaten for 525 yards by a balanced Va-Tech offense. The offense again struggled to reach the end zone despite Brad Kaaya's 323 yards passing in spite of his being sacked eight times ..... 4Q: Done. UM now down 37-16 after late Tech scoring run. That's a third staright loss for Miami, all but dooming any chance of reaching ACC title game ... Yearby busts a 41-yard run inside VT's 20 but it's wasted. UM misses narrowly on 4th-down end zone pass to Coley ... Big blocked FG for Miami to keep it a two-possession deficit ... Canes D drops an easy interception ..... 3Q: Tech up 30-16 on 3rd scoring pass of night given up by Miami's defense. Not good enough from Mario Diaz's injury-depleted unit tonight ... Boom! Just like that Kaaya-Herndon 35-yard hookup has Canes within 23-16 ... Hodges 12-yard scoring catch for 23-9 Va-Tech lead in series fueled by dumb personal foul against UM. Careful, Canes. This game could slip away fast. Miami needs TDs, not FGs ... What a defensive play by Quarterman for 11-yard loss on end around ..... Halftime thoughts: Huge series just before half has UM back in it, down 16-9. The two running games are the difference at this point. Va Tech has pummeled UM's defense for 112 ground yards and 5,.6 per carry, while Canes' usually productive ground game has 11 net yards on 17 carries. Richt has 201 air yards despite shaky protection. Miami's defense overall has not been terrible but the offense is struggling for the third straight game. Barring some magical halftime words from Mark Richt, UM is staring at a third straight defeat -- although that late score changed the feel ..... 2Q: Berrios 25-yard scoring pass from Kaaya just before has UM within 16-9 after missed kick. Huge series ... UM hole now 16-3 just before half on 38-yard Tech FG ... Tech 13-3 on 7-yard TD pass. Penalties, missed tackles bedeviling UM ... Tech adds another FG for 6-3 lead ... Kaaya is morphing into Ryan Tannehill (Kaayahill?), holding ball and taking sacks ... Kaaya throws into double coverage, is picked off on deflection ... Solid opening quarter for Canes, who should be up 7-3 ..... 1Q: Njoku wide-open for 48-yard pass play. Shoulda been TD but he tripped; Joe Nobody on the tackle. And UM settles for 29-yard FG to make it 3-3 ... Kaaya takes sack to remove UM from FG range. (Now Dolphins' Tannehill getting better protection and it's Canes O-line that looks weak) ... Va-Tech 3-0 but encouraging finish to series for a UM defense depleted by injuries, especially on line .....Original post: Both teams are 4-2 and unranked entering tonight's 7 o'clock game at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, but UM has two conference losses to the Hokies' one. Plainly, while this is not literally must-win for Miami, it is all but must-win if the Canes are to have Umvtany reasonable chance to still reach the ACC Championship Game out of the Coastal division. More than that, though, puts most of the pressure on Miami tonight. This is the first game all season The U has been the betting underdog, with Va-Tech a 6-point favorite. Prime time in Blacksburg on ESPN also makes this the toughest stage on which Mark Richt's Canes have yet performed. Miami also will be missing two or three defensive starters, which could affect UM getting to a very good, dual-threat opposing QB, Jerod Evans, who has 17 TD passes and loves to run. Clearly the onus is on Miami, playing its third game in 13 days, to avoid a third straight conference loss. The best hope may be a big game from Brad Kaaya, whose offense has sputtered in losses to FSU and North Carolina that sent the Canes cascading from No. 10 in the nation to unranked. The potential for Kaaya is big tonight. Va-Tech's defense gave up 405 passing yards to a not-very-good Syracuse last week. The stakes feel like all-or-nothing tonight, a season-shaping extreme. A third straight conference loss would be demoralizing. A win would be the biggest thus far for the Richt Era and set things right. Bottom line for me? These are two pretty equal teams, and a UM upset victory would not surprise me even a little bit. But Blacksburg at night truly offers a home-field edge that could carry the night. My pick: Virginia Tech, 24-20.

Other state FBS Week 8 games, chronologically; all Saturday unless noted:

Temple 46, South Florida 30: Bulls were 7-point road favorites, but bad Friday night loss leaves them 6-2, poll hopes and AAC championship dreams hit hard.

UCF 24, UConn 16Knights were 4-point road faves in this matinee and took care of biz, improving to 4-3.

Louisiana Tech 44, FIU 24: Panthers had won three straight under Ron Cooper since coaching change, but La-Tech was a 16 1/2-point road favorite and showed why.

Off this week:

No. 13 Florida State (5-2), next vs. No. 4 Clemson.

No. 15 Florida (5-1), next vs. Georgia.

FAU (1-6), next vs. Western Kentucky.

National Collball Week 8 overview: College Football Playoff's current alignment seemed safe for another week, but wasn't. While No. 1 Alabama took care of business and turned back No. 6 Texas A&M 33-14, No. 2 Ohio State lost a stunner at Penn State 24-21.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 19, 2016

NFL Pix 'n Fantasy: The (very) good and bad of Week 6 results; plus Tannehill's challenge to Dolphins, updated SOPY rankings, Radio Tuesday, the false nobility of the third-party candidate & more

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

Chuckberry1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19. Happy 90th birthday yesterday to the music legend Chuck Berry (pictured,) who announced that in 2017 he'll release his first new album in 38 years. 2) Dolphins earn season-high Dolfan Satisfaction Meter approval rating. See previous blogpost for latest results. 3) 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 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins stun Pittsburgh with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

My latest column: Tannehill nails it: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has challenged his team, in the wake of Sunday's exhilarating surprise over Pittsburgh, to "show up like this every week." Can they? Click on Tannehill's Challenge to read my latest column.

Fripix LobosNFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 6 RESULTS: PHENOMENAL 'ATS' STREAK CONTINUES, BUT LOBOS FALL HARD: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL picks: Went a nifty 12-3 overall and a sublime 10-4-1 against the spread -- a sixth straight winning week ATS! We bull's-eyed yet another Upset of the Week call with Redskins over Eagles ("Aawwk!"), hit two other outright upsets with Chargers over Broncos and Saints over Panthers, and also hit on a trio of other 'dogs-with-points in Browns, Falcons and Cowboys. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos dipped to 3-3 in the LeBatard Show league with a disappointing 156-96 loss to Allyson. Got a nice 33 points from Drew Brees and too little from everybody else. Injury-absence of Theo Riddick hurt, but doesn't excuse a spanking like this. Time to seriously re-gird.

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': FLOWERS GROWING OUT OF CONTROL!: South Florida QB Quinton Flowers (out of Miami Jackson High) is threatening to run away with the leaderboard Sopyin the fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year. After winning Week 7 Flowers has opened up more than a 200-point lead on second place Dalvin Cook, the Florida state running back. 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. UM, Florida and UCF have played one fewer game than the other four. 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 8, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 7:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk7        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                293.5      1,540

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          126        1,304

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 165.5      1,160

4      5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       138.5       838

5      8      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      187.5      782.5

6      4      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                          39         748

7     --      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                       188        734

8      7      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      105        707 

9      6      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                        95         702.5

10     9      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    115        700

Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 618. Other team leaders: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 552; and McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 404.5. Week 7 best: Flowers, 293.5. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

THE FALSE NOBILITY OF THE THIRD-PARTY CANDIDATE: John Oliver skewered third-party presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein (video below), detailing ways in which their candidacies and platforms do not stand up under scrutiny or vetting. I'm against minor third-party runners (defined as polling less than 10 percent) mainly because they are hopeless spoilers attracting wasted, pointless votes -- modern-day Ralph Naders. Johnson and Stein have zero ZERO ZERO chance of winning a single state including their own, let alone a general election. I love that idealists have convinced themselves that voting their "conscience" is the way to go in this election, and that voting for (as they might put it) "the lesser of two evils" is abhorrent to everything they stand for. To those folks I would say: Feel free to be an adult, get acquainted with the idea of pragmatism, and hop on board the real world anytime you'd like.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 18, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 67.4%; plus Fins stun Steelers 30-15. Why? 6 things that went really right for Miami today; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 17. 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 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes host North Carolina with CSM poll, state Collball Week 7 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

CSM results: Results are in on the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll; see them in the blogpost immediately below this one.

Latest NFL predictions: Click on Week 6 Gems for all of Sunday's (and tonight's) NFL picks. And click As Tannehill Fights For His Future for our new NFL notes column leading with some of Miami's possible options should they move past Ryan Tannehill after this season.

Our postgame thoughts: 6 things that went really right for Dolphins Sunday: See our live in-game blog including postgame analysis of yesterday's huge Dolphins win right below latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: 67.4%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 67.4 percent overall approval rating -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-15 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers Dsmputting Miami's season record at 2-4. 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)

Next poll: Oct. 23 (following game vs. Buffalo)

PitmiaG6: DOLPHINS 30, PITTSBURGH 15: AJAYI CAREER DAY SPARKS STUNNING UPSET!: Postgame thoughts: How did the underdog Dolphins improve to 21-4 by stunning Pittsburgh 30-15 today? Let us count the ways... 1) Ryan Tannehill was really good. Accurate. Played clean. Took no sacks. This was the Tannehill you want to keep. 2) The offensive line was terrific. Great in pass protection, even better in aggressively run blocking. The unit's best performance of season by far as starting five finally played together. 3) Jay Ajayi had a career game, with 204 yards rushing -- third most in franchise history -- and two TDs. Man, did he run hard! 4) The pass defense gave Ben Roethlisberger problems all day long. 5) Byron Maxwell defended Antontio Brown very well, really rose up with a big game. 6) Time of possession domination by Miami was 36 1/2 minutes to 23 1/2. I'd go on, but that about covers it. Today we saw how good Miami can be. A nourishing day by a team -- and a fandom -- in desperate need ..... 4Q: Ajayi 62-yard scoring run seals it at 30-15. Stunner. ... Landry recovers onside kick! ... Steelers within 23-15 with 1:02 to play on a Big Ben scoring throw. Onside kick presumably coming ... Man, Miami gonna win this damned game. Who ARE these people in the Dolphins uniforms today!? ... Franks wide left on 50-yard FG try so still a two-possession lead for Miami ..... 3Q: Ajayti 1-yard TD plunge puts MIA up 23-8 ... Abdul-Quddus intercepts Big Ben ..... Halftime thoughts: Tannehill had 96.9 rating in first half and outplayed Roethlisberger. Defense has shown fire. Where has this team been? Where has this effort been? But can they close? Can they finish the upset with a big second half? We'll see ..... 2Q: Fins up 16-8 on Williams 1-yard run set up by Tannehill's 39-yard strike to Landry inside PIT 5. ... MIA settles\ again for short FG (23) after Sims drops TD pass after earlier scoring pass was negated by illegal formation. That's what losing teams do. A 53-yard catch by MarQueis Gray, his first of season, is wasted ..... 1Q: Wake make it two Fins sacks of Big Ben already ..... Heyward-Bey burns Dolphins D for 60-yard end-around TD through shoddy tackling. Then it's 8-3 as PIT converts 2-point conversion pass to Bell ... Fins fail on surprise onside kick but play is whistled off; break for Miami ... MIA settles for a 30-yard FG on impressive opening drive ... Fins showing spark and fight today. None evident a week ago ... Always a ton of Steelers fans in Miami, today no exception ... How we feeling, Dolfans? ..... Original post: The NFL is an anything-goes, nothing-off-the-table league, as you know. Which is Miami's great hope today starting at 1. Last week the Dolphins took a public home crap vs. the lowly Tennessee Titans. But this is the NFL. Would it surprise anybody if these same Dolphins rose up big and played well vs. mighty Pittsburgh? OK maybe surprise, yes. But shock, no. Having said that, the odds of a rout by the Steelers are greater than the odds of an upset. Points to Adam Gase for not mincing words or trying to put a cherry on a pile of [bleep]. "We’re inept right now," the coach described his Dolphins this week. Inept. "Having or showing no skill; clumsy." Yep, can’t argue that! Miami is doing very little well right now at 1-4 other than punting, and something close to panic was evident this week as the team fired three offensive linemen on a single day. Oppositely, the 4-1 Pittsburgh Steelers come in on a big roll for their first visit in six years, with a fairly awesome offense fronted by Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Fins’ defense couldn’t slow the tepid Titans and now they’re supposed to stop this!? Miami’s secondary literally has nobody capable of covering Brown, and Bell could toll for 150-plus against what statistically is now the NFL’s worst run defense. Gloomy enough forecast for ya? But, again, even having said all that, I still give Dolphins a small shot at an upset in the Pouncey Bowl (Mike vs. Maurkice), and certainly a chance to be competitive. Didn’t embattled Ryan Tannehill, now a boo-magnet, toss three TDs and beat Pitt in his only meeting in 2013? (He did). Desperation can do strange things. So can the fear of embarrassment. So can pride. Let’s see if Miami has any. My pick: Pittsburgh, 30-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCTOBER 16): 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. DOLPHINS: Fins dominate, stun Steelers: Miami was 1-4 and trying to save a sinking season on Sunday and asking the same defense that couldn't stop the tepid Tennessee Titans last week to now stop Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell? Well, 30-15, Dolphins. Who in hell has this Miami team, or this league, figured out.

2. HURRICANES: Huge loss North Carolina makes this night imperative: FSU Week had the Game of the Year cred, but Miami was in position to overcome that 1-point loss vs. North Carolina Saturday and now at Va-Tech Thursday night. The 20-13 loss to the Tar Heels makes this week all but must-win in terms of any hopes to still reach the ACC Championship Game.

3. PANTHERS: Cats open season of high hopes at 2-0: On a Thursday Opening Night when the Panthers honored the late Marlins star Jose Fernandez by all wearing No. 16 in pregame warmups, the game winning goal came from the Cats' own No. 16, Aleksander Barkov. Sweet 16, indeed.

4. BASEBALL: Who isn' rooting for a Cubs-Indians World Series?: Cubs last won a World Series in 1908 and Indians in 1948 as league championship series are now underway. Message from America to Dodgers and Blue Jays: Don't even think about it!

5. HEAT: Countdown 9 days 'til ... who the hell knows!?: Only three more preseason games remain until the post-Wade, post-Bosh, new-era Heat open the NBA regular season Oct. 26 in Orlando. It's the great unknown. If only "great" also described the team's outlook.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Saturday threatens top-of-polls shakeup: No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Ohio State both faced challenging road games vs. top-10 opponents Saturday, but both prevailed. Think either would lose? Yeah, me neither.

7. AUSTON MATTHEWS: Teen sets NHL rookie mark in debut: Toronto's top draft pick Matthews, who just turned 19, became first player in history to score four goals in his NHL debut. Even better, he was born in Scottsdale, Ariz. Take that, Canada and Eastern Europe.

8. NASCAR: As Homestead waits, cut to eight finalists nears: Only one more race left until NASCAR cuts to eight finalists who'll run for season crown in Homestead. The problem is, they'll be joined by dozens of non-contenders whose only job is to wreck a finalist's chances.

9. TIGER WOODS: Eldrick delays long-awaited comeback yet again: Tiger Woods, trying to exhume resume his career after myriad back issues, said he'd play this past week, then said he wouldn't, and now says he'll play in December, maybe. Keep us posted, big guy! 

10. WNBA: Finals Game 5 is Thursday: Somebody will win the WNBA championship Thursday night. When I find out who's playing, I'll let you know.

Missing the HB10 cut: "And how was your week?," said Donald Trump ..... Colin Kaepernick takes over as 49ers starting QB today. Let's see if he can stand in the pocket as well as he can sit during the anthem ..... Dwyane Wade has denied reports that LeBron James tried to talk him and Chris Bosh into joining the Cavaliers in the summer of 2010, when they formed the Big 3 in Miami. Which invites the question, "Why in hell are we still talking about this!?" ..... Steelers' Antonio Brown today is wearing special cleats in honor of fallen Miami stars Jose Fernandez and Kimbo Slice. One lesson reason to boo him, Dolfans. Two, actually ..... Mets prospect Tim Tebow began his Arizona Fall League stint 0-for-9. Time for prayers? ..... Hurricanes baseball has begun fall practice. Updates as warranted.

Select recent columns of ours, ICYMI or wanted another look: Swagger On Skates (previewing Florida Panthers' season of high hopes) / Because He's Tiger Woods / Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance / Close to Back, But Not Back (from last Saturday's Canes loss / 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.

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

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

1) It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15. 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 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill referendum poll, Panthers' Opening Night, SOPY rankings & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 14, 2016

Our NFL Week 6 picks as sizzling ATS success bids to continue; plus Barkov a sweet 16 for Panthers, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Tannehill crushed by Dolfans in poll & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14. Fulton Walker, R.I.P. Former Dolphin died this week at 58 of a reported heart attack. He became first NFL player to score a kickoff-return TD in a Super Bowl in 1983. 2) 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 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill referendum poll, Panthers' Opening Night, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Panthers open with win: Florida's NHL season of high expectations began Thursday with 2-1 Opening Night win over New Jersey on OT goal by Aleksander Barkov. Cats honored late Marlins great Jose Fernandez before game by all wearing No. 16 jerseys. Barkov scored game winner in his own No. 16. Click on Now the Winning Big Must Follow for my column from the arena. Panthers had a big-spending offseason. Now must come the big results.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 6: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We're bound to keep it rolling on the big start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald with our latest Fripixround of selections. Click on Week 6 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest prediction capsules for Dolphins-Steelers, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. Got off to a great start with Denver-San Diego last night, accurately calling the Chargers' upset win; click on Thursday Gem for that capsule. We're now a very, very good 50-27-1 against the spread heading into Sunday's schedule. We also have an accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with some thoughts on what options could be available to the Dolphins if the club decides to move on past Ryan Tannehill after this season. Click on As Tannehill Fights For His Future to read.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 5 RESULTS: 'ATS' STREAK ROLLS ON; LOBOS WIN HUGELY: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL picks: Went an OK 9-5 overall last week but were a solid 8-5-1 against the spread -- a fifth straight winning week ATS. Nailed our Upset of the Week with Bills over Rams ("Aawwk!"), hit another upset with Cowboys over Bengals, and had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Falcons, Redskins and Chargers. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos elevated to 3-2 (tied for second in the LeBatard Show league) with a surreal 143-43 annihilation of Stugotz. Who wins by 100 points!? Got a big 26 points from Theo Riddick but the key was our scramble at QB. With both our guys on a bye week we signed Brian Hoyer last-minute and got a big 24 from him.

Poll result: Not good, Tannehill. Dolphins fans are bailing on you: We asked what best describes your confidence level, right now, in Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and it was 47.3 percent "low," 30.1% "wavering," 14.0% "moderate" and only 8.6% "solid."

Select recent columns of ours, ICYMI or wanted another look: Swagger On Skates (previewing Florida Panthers' season of high hopes) / Because He's Tiger Woods / Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance / Close to Back, But Not Back (from last Saturday's Canes loss / 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

Opening Night!: Bar set high as Panthers open 23rd season with win; plus judging Ryan Tannehill. A referendum on Dolphins quarterback. Poll. Last chance to vote!; also, latest SOPY standings & more

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

Trump1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14. So pleased for Bob Dylan, a music and cultural hero, to hear he won a Nobel prize for literature! 2) Holed up today at Friday Page World Headquarters figuring out this week's NFL predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Chargers-Broncos game (Upset!) 3) 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 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose to Titans with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Fins ground-game woes (List) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Why we keep waiting for Tiger: Tiger Woods' comeback is delayed. Again. But we keep waiting. We keep caring. Why? Click on Because He's Tiger Woods to read my column.

OPENING NIGHT! PANTHERS LAUNCH SEASON OF LARGE HOPES WITH WIN: Panthers beat New Jersey devils 2-1 in OT on Opening Night Thursday on goal by Aleksander Barkov, the Cats' No. 16 -- after the team had honored the late Marlins' No. 16, Jose Fernandez, in a pregame ceremony. Click on Now the Winning Big Must Follow for my column from the arena ..... Original post: Click Swagger On Skates for my full column previewing this Panthers season of high expectations as the Cats host New Jersey tonight in Sunrise to begin their 23rd NHL year. The Cats come in with swagger, with cockiness. It is strange, coming from a franchise always cast as the underdog climbing uphill. PanthersStrange, from a club that has made the NHL playoffs but five times and not won a single postseason series since reaching the Stanley Cup Finals — Cinderella on skates — in 1996. It is jarring. It is audacious. It is something else, too. Refreshing. Wonderful. And perfectly timed. All of our other major pro sports teams are down. The Dolphins seem to be as depressingly bad as ever. The Marlins have been decimated by tragedy. The Heat are trying to reboot after the once- Openingnightunfathomable departure of Dwyane Wade. To the rescue come the Cats! The only one of our four major pro teams yet to throw a championship parade is now without question the closest of them all to doing that. "Underdogs no more," as president of hockey operations Dale Tallon told us Wednesday. Remember how Miami Hurricanes football players at the program's height of power in the 1980s buffed braggadocio to an art form? And how LeBron James upon arriving in 2010 talked dynasty for the Big 3-era Heat ("Not three, not four...") by counting championships? We're not elevating these Panthers to that standard of epic boastfulness, but, clearly, this is a team that thinks it can win the Stanley Cup and isn't shy to say it. This is a team publicly challenging itself to do it. "Everybody knows we're a good team now," says coach Gerard Gallant. "We're not going to sneak up on anybody." Two costly injuries during the preseason have stunned the team. Center Nick Bjugstad broke a hand and will be out four to six weeks. Far worse, forward Jonathan Huberdeau suffered a severe ankle injury that will sideline him about four months — at least two-thirds of the season. But Tallon is convinced that improved depth will allow the Cats to absorb those blows. No fissures in confidence are evident. Last season the Panthers set franchise records for most victories (47) and standings points (103), and, "This year we have a lot higher expectations for ourselves," said goaltender Roberto Luongo. This could be the best team the franchise has ever put on ice. Players expect that. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad was told the Panthers are being rated a top-10 team and among Eastern Conference powers in media polls, and said, "As players on this team, our expectations exceed those times 10." Now, beginning tonight, all that's left is the living up.

TannehillJUDGING ON RYAN TANNEHILL, NOT QUITE 4 1/2 SEASONS IN: Have opinions on the Dolphins quarterback hardened, or are they still evolving? Do we see a fully formed player, or one still improving? Bottom line, do Dolfans believe in Tannehill and have his back, or not? He was booed during Sunday's loss, and heard a "We want Moore!" chant for backup Matt Moore. The booing was more scattered than sustained. The chant quickly petered out. But they happened. Frustration is growing, and it has targeted Tannehill partly because the starting QB always is an easy target, and partly because he has invited some of the dissatisfaction with his play. Coach Adam Gase made it clear there is no QB controversy -- that Tannehill is his guy the rest of this season, at least. I address the issue in my column off Sunday's home loss to Tennessee; to read, click on Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance. We've had several judging-Tannehill blog polls over the years, but another is justified. There remains debate. He continues to be polariziing. Four-plus seasons in, there still is no consensus on whether he is Miami's long-term solution or not. So I ask it again. Take a dip in our poll. Vote, and check back often to monitor evolving results:

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': MIAMI REPRESENTS WITH FLOWERS BLOOMING, COOK ON HIGH: Miami is all over the leaderboard in the fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings -- SopyState Offensive Player of the Year. Hurricanes Brad Kaaya and Mark Walton rank No. 6 and 7 this week, and FIU Panthers check in fourth and eighth. But local guys also top the chart. Top-ranked South Florida QB Quinton Flowers is from Miami Jackson High and second place Dalvin Cook, the Florida State RB, is from Miami Central. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week (or a hurricane-related postponement!) 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. UM, Florida and UCF have played one fewer game than the other four. 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 7, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 6:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk6        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                258        1,246.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          215        1,178

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 150        994.5

4      5      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         161        709

5      4      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       96          699.5

6     7       Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       105        607.5

7      6      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      81          602 

8      9      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      131.5     595

9      8      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    118        585

10   10      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                   119        573

Bubble: Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb, 546. Other team leaders: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 433; and Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 351. Week 6 best: Flowers, 258. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

Select recent columns of ours, ICYMI or wanted another look: 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) / King Sport First Quarter Awards / 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote