Greg Cote

Dolphins, UM bowl, OB, Heat top list

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) celebrates after the University of Miami defeats West Virginia Mountaineers at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) celebrates after the University of Miami defeats West Virginia Mountaineers at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. adiaz@miamiherald.com

1. DOLPHINS

It’s Patriots, then playoffs for Miami: The phrase said this time of year takes on a new and literal meaning for long-suffering Dolfans as their team, wrapping up its regular season at home Sunday vs. New England, prepares for its first playoff game since 2008. Happy New Year!

2. HURRICANES

UM beats West Virginia, ends 10-year bowl drought: It was a long time coming, but after an 0-6 run in bowl games, the 31-14 win over WVU in Orlando marked UM’s first postseason victory since 2006. An even bigger win for the program? If QB Brad Kaaya decides to stay.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL

CFP semis, Orange Bowl in books: A heavyweight Orange Bowl matchup between Michigan and Florida State proved a worthy appetizer to Saturday’s Alabama-Washington and Clemson-Ohio State semifinals in the College Football Playoff.

4. HEAT

Miami hurtling toward worst season in nine years: Team was 10-23 entering the weekend and cascading to franchise’s worst season since 2007-08. “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight”: A 1969 Jimmy Breslin novel turned into a movie, now finding its sequel in current Heat.

5. PANTHERS

Ice slowly melting on season of high hopes: A year ago Florida had best regular season in club history, and Cats entered this season boldly thinking Stanley Cup. Then came the slow start, the coach firing and the 4-4-7 record since that panicked move. Oops.

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