Friday, November 24, 2017


Matt Baker, Times staff writer

Matt Baker, Times staff writer

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Matt Baker Sports Reporter Headshots

From USF-UCF, to UF-FSU, to Alabama-Auburn, it’s a busy college football Thanksgiving weekend

Published: 11/22/17
FILE- In this Jan. 1, 2017, file photo, San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly speaks at a news conference after the team's NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Santa Clara, Calif. A person familiar with the situation says Florida has met with Kelly about becoming the teamâ\u0088\u009A¢â\u0080\u009A\u0082 \u0308â\u0080\u009A\u0084¢s next football coach. The person says athletic director Scott Stricklin and five key staffers met with Kelly in New Hampshire on Sunday, Nov. 19. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

UF has little to say after meeting with Kelly

GAINESVILLE — At last, there’s some actual smoke to the Chip Kelly-Florida rumors.The Gators sent a group — including president Kent Fuchs and athletic director Scott Stricklin — to New Hampshire on Sunday to talk with the former Oregon coach...
Published: 11/20/17
GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 18: Eddy Pineiro #15 of the Florida Gators gestures after kicking a field goal during the first half of the game against the UAB Blazers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) 775059027

Florida back on track with non-conference blowout of UAB

GAINESVILLE — Florida’s next head coach — whether it’s odds-on favorite Chip Kelly or someone else — should be encouraged by Saturday’s 36-7 win over UAB.Not because the Gators (4-6) snapped a five-game losing streak by beating up on a 7-4...
Published: 11/18/17
GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 18: C'yontai Lewis #80 of the Florida Gators gestures whilst scoring a touchdown during the first half of the game against the UAB Blazers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) 775059027

Matt Baker’s takeaways from Florida-UAB

1. A milestone Florida probably doesn’t want to celebrate: Johnny Townsend became the school’s all-time leading punter with his 232rd career punt. But Townsend has legitimately been one of the team’s MVPs.2. It took far too long, but UF’s tight...
Published: 11/18/17
FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2017, file photo, Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin gestures from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, in Madison, Wis. Kiffin never definitively said what his expectation was for his first season at Florida Atlantic, though one thing is absolutely certain.
He did not expect this.FAU is already 7-3, with six wins in a row. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash, File) NY172

State college tidbits: Shula Bowl’s a must-see

Shula Bowl coachesNone of the previous 15 FAU-FIU matchups had this much buzz. Both teams are bowl eligible, and both coaches are national names:FAU coach Lane KiffinRecord: 7-3You knew him as: The arrogant hotshot who...
Published: 11/17/17
FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2017, file photo, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (23) runs in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Indiana in Bloomington, Ind. No. 5 Wisconsin will face its sternest test yet this season when No. 19 Michigan visits Camp Randall Stadium in the home season finale. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) NY167

College football viewing guide, Week 11

Watching college football all day Saturday? Here’s the meh and must-see time frames:Lamest time window: Late. It’s a pretty weak slate, so take a light day.Noon: No. 5 Wisconsin finally gets a test, No. 19 Michigan. 3:30: How will...
Published: 11/17/17
Former Oregon coach and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly is seen before Oregon takes on Ohio State in the CFP National Championship on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Your Florida Gators coaching search weekend guide

While message boards and Twitter were running rampant all week about the possibility of Florida hiring Chip Kelly, an announcement on the Gators’ next coach is not imminent. It might not come today. Or Monday. Or next week.So take a...
Published: 11/16/17
Miami Hurricanes running back Travis Homer (24) crosses the goal line after a 64-yard touchdown run during the second quarter of the game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and Miami Hurricanes in Miami, Fla. on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017.

College Football Playoff: Miami up to No. 3 in rankings, two-loss teams lurk

Tuesday’s latest round of the College Football Playoff committee’s weekly rankings shows a clear path to a (relatively) controversy-free final four.Win out, and No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 5 Wisconsin are in. So, too, is the winner of...
Published: 11/14/17
Miami fans cheer during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Miami won 41-8. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) FLLS124

Is Miami officially back? We let the turnover chains decide

MIAMI — A question that has been bubbling up all season crescendoed over the weekend after Miami’s 33-point thrashing of Notre Dame. Is the U back?"We are back," former Gov. Jeb Bush tweeted. "I don’t think anybody can say we’re...
Published: 11/13/17
Miami Hurricanes' Deejay Dallas (13) tackles Notre Dame's Chris Finke (10) in the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS) 1215756

Miami defense makes statement in 41-8 rout of No. 3 Notre Dame

MIAMI — While No. 7 Miami’s viral turnover chain embodies the swag of a once-proud program that sure looked back Saturday night, it doesn’t tell the whole story about one of the nation’s four remaining undefeated teams. Even when it’s not...
Published: 11/11/17
Updated: 11/12/17