The Road to Miami: On college football's Championship Weekend, CFP, bowl outlooks for Canes and OB; plus NFL Week 15 picks: Dolphins-Patriots, Chiefs-Saints, 3 big upsets and the rest; also, latest Greg Cote Show podcast a must-hear for pet owners & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND
1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19. Note to readers: Not been writing as much lately because I'm burning a bunch of unused vacation time before end of year. But the blog still chugs on! 2) The Greg Cote Show podcast is now separately on Twitter and Instagram. Join us on both! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Greg Cote Show podcast new Episode 41, Chargers-Raiders pick, NFL Week 14 Pix 'n Fantasy results and QB rankings & more. 4) Join me on Twitter and Instagram.
THE ROAD TO MIAMI COMES CLEAR ON SATURDAY: Miami and Hard Rock Stadium will host the College Football Playoff national championship game on January 11, following New Year's Day semifinals in Pasadena and New Orleans. Here are the five games on Saturday (chronologically) that will have an impact in determining the Chosen Four teams invited into the CFP:
No. 14 Northwestern (6-1) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (5-0): Big Ten championship, noon, Indianapolis -- It's simple. The Buckeyes, favored by 20, must win to get in.
No. 5 Texas A&M (7-1) at Tennessee (3-6): Regular season, noon -- Aggies, 14-point faves, will look to win resoundingly and pray Ohio State loses.
No. 10 Oklahoma (7-2) vs. No. 6 Iowa State (8-2): Big 12 championship, noon, Arlington -- With an upset, 6-point 'dog Iowa State would have a case for leapfrogging A&M into the top four should Ohio State lose.
No. 3 Clemson (9-1) vs. No. 2 Notre Dame (10-0): ACC championship, 4 p.m., Charlotte -- The big one. Irish beat Tigers 47-40 in double-OT November 7 -- but Clemson was missing star QB Trevor Lawrence. Not this time, so Tigers are 10 1/2-point favorites. Chances are good, though, that both will be in the CFP with even the loser likwly not dropping lower than fourth.
No. 1 Alabama (10-0) vs. No. 7 Florida (8-2): SEC championship, 8 p.m., Atlanta -- Crimson Tide are 17-point favorites and quite possibly would remain in top four even with an unlikely loss. The better question: Would a shocking upset lift the Gators into the CFP assuming Ohio State won?
Prediction on CFP semifinal after Saturday's results: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Notre Dame; No 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State.
BOWL OUTLOOK FOR HURRICANES, OTHER STATE FBS TEAMS, ORANGE BOWL: Eleven bowl games have canceled because of COVID but 32 are still being played. Here's the is the outlook for the Orange Bowl, the Miami Hurricanes and other state FBS teams:
Orange Bowl: January 2, Miami -- Oh, what might have been! December began with the OB looking like Frida Gators vs. Miami Hurricanes. Oh well. Settle for what's looking like North Carolina vs. Texas A&M. Canes fans and OB officials ate crestfallen.
Miami Hurricanes -- All indications are it'll be UM vs. Oklahoma State in the December 29 Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando. The good news? Big step up for Miami from the ignominy of last year's sad matchup with Louisiana Tech in the minor Independence Bowl after a 6-6 season. The bad news? With one spectacularly ill-timed, lay-down loss to North Carolina the Canes fell from the Orange Bowl to ... the Cheez-It Bowl. Which alone and in and of itself is a resounding, irrefutable answer to the ubiquitous question, "Is The U back?"
Florida Gators -- Pending Saturday results it's looking like Gators vs. Oklahoma in the December 30 Cotton Bowl.
FAU Owls -- Confirmed: Owls vs. Memphis in the December 23 Montgomery Bowl.
UCF Knights -- Confirmed: UCF vs. BYU in the December 22 Boca Raton Bowl.
FSU Seminoles -- There is speculation FSU may face Louisiana in the December 26 Gasparilla Bowl. Yes, the Seminoles are 3-6 entering Saturday's finale vs. Wake Forest, but pandemic rules have waived minimum-wins requirement. Still, geez have a little pride, 'Noles! Your season deserves no reward. Stay home.
NFL WEEK 15 PICKS: DOLPHINS-PATRIOTS, CHIEFS-SAINTS (GOTW), 3 BIG UPSETS AND ALL THE REST: Week 14 was rough on us, folks. We staggered in at 9-7 overall and [censored] against the spread. I cannot say what it was here because there are no obscenities allowed in the blog. Although you can un fortunately find it in the link below. We move on! Topping our Week 15 marquee: Patriots at Dolphins, a.k.a. rookie-killer Bill Belichick vs. Tua Tagovailoa. Miami at 8-5 is hanging onto the seventh and last AFC playoff spot going in and can ill-afford a loss in its regular season home finale. Also in this week's picks we highlight our Chiefs-Saints Game of the Week and our Upset of the Week among three upset picks in total. This is our 30th season of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, and we thank you for joining us on the journey. For our latest picks for the entire slate of 16 games, visit NFL Week 15 Gems. Our week got off to a luckless start Thursday night. Wehad the Raiders (-3 1/2) winning and covering at home over the Chargers, but the Bolts prevailed 30-27 in overtime. Luckless? Vegas QB Derek Carr's early injury-exit. Hey, no complaints, as the Luck Door swings both ways. Our picks appear Thursday afternoons every week online, and Fridays in print.
GREG COTE SHOW PODCAST: ATTENTION PET OWNERS! NEW EPISODE OUT NOW!: Our Miami Herald podcast debuted in March and the new Episode 41 is out now! A new pod drops every Monday morning on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Megaphone -- wherever you pod, and of course at MiamiHerald.com. Find all 41 we've done so far RIGHT HERE for free. Please listen, subscribe, rate and review. In new Ep41 we welcome in a renowned animal psychologist who talks about how to raise happy dogs and cats in an informative, fun conversation. Also, Greg and Chris discuss the Dolphins' Sunday loss to Kansas City, the Canes' awful defensive collapse and the Heat/James Harden rumor. And the Mount Gregmore Name Game reaches its end with the X's, Y's and Z's. But will it be the end of Mount Gregmore? Listen to find out! Hear all of that and more in the new podcast. Appreciate you all listening each and every week and check out the new Ep41 now!
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Revisit this blog often because it updates regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Greg is also a regular on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Finding Greg: Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Columns. Podcast. Podcast on Twitter. Podcast on Instagram. LeBatard Show. Book: Fins At 50. Songs: Letting Go (audio) and The Ballad Of 1440 (video).