Greg Cote

Hurricanes in OB, Nick Saban, Dolphins’ retreat, hot Heat ‘n Cats make new Hot Button

Miami Hurricanes fan Ash Boutros bites an orange in the fan festival with friends and family as the Canes prepare to play the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on December 30, 2017.
Miami Hurricanes fan Ash Boutros bites an orange in the fan festival with friends and family as the Canes prepare to play the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on December 30, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

1. HURRICANES: UM ends year of progress in hometown Orange Bowl game: Tenth-ranked Canes were home underdogs to No. 6 Wisconsin Saturday in the 84th Orange Bowl game. Win or lose, though, UM's first 10-win season and first OB invite since 2003 made it a year of progress toward the destination: Back.

2. COLLEGE PLAYOFF: Last four in CFP semifinals on Monday: It's No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Oklahoma and then No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Clemson on Monday in College Football Playoff semis. Oddly, both lower-seeded teams are slight betting favorites. College fans at least can agree on this: Everybody hates Nick Saban.

3. DOLPHINS: For Fins, a season of regression expires Sunday: Miami hosts the Buffalo Bills Sunday to wrap up what will be a disappointing, injury-wracked, no-playoff season, win or lose. The good news? It'll very likely be the last time in a Fins uniform for the $10 million rental with the bargain-bin results, Jay Cutler.

4. HEAT: Miami warms up, gets on playoff pace: Still early, yeah, but Heat had won seven of past 10 games entering the weekend, climbed up onto playoff pace and moved within one game of East's fourth seed, which would mean home-court advantage in the first round. In the post Big 3 era, you seize optimism when you can.

5. PANTHERS: Cats finally showing signs of life: The fire-sale Marlins are shopping Christian Yelich and the No. 15 Canes men have begun their ACC basketball schedule, but give the 5-Spot this week to the Florida Panthers, who'd won a season-best four straight games entering Saturday night. Happy new year!

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