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Georgia and Alabama play on, Trevor Lawrence goes for a record and more for CFB’s Week 7

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It’s a strange year for college football, and even for the biggest games, the scene isn’t quite the same as we’d expect. That will feel particularly true this Saturday when Alabama and Georgia, two of the three best teams in the country, face off in Tuscaloosa without Nick Saban on the sidelines.

Alabama announced Wednesday night that Saban tested positive for COVID-19. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is in charge of operations on the ground while Saban is away, but similar to Saban’s involvement Saturday, how much autonomy Sarkisian has to make decisions is still being discussed.

Under normal circumstances, there would be a weeklong party, endless hype, fields filled with tailgating and revelry, and a crowd ready to burst with energy. This year, we’ll be getting a watered-down version of all of that, and missing arguably the best coach in the game.

Still, the Dawgs and Tide will provide us with what could be the most anticipated game of the season, and despite the pandemic-related changes, this one still ticks most of the boxes we’d expect for a truly epic SEC matchup.

A painful history: Every time Georgia has reached the precipice of college football’s elite in recent years, Alabama has been there to shove the Bulldogs back down the mountain in heartbreaking fashion. Go back to 2008, when UGA had the No. 1 team in the country and donned its black jerseys for a huge Saturday night prime-time game against the Tide. It was 31-0 Alabama at halftime. Or how about 2012 when Aaron Murray’s final pass of the SEC title game was short of the end zone and time expired on a 32-28 Tide win. Or how about 2017, when the Dawgs led 13-0 at halftime only for a freshman QB named Tua Tagovailoa to emerge from the locker room as Alabama’s savior? So, yeah, there will be a little history behind this game Saturday.

The pressure of two top-5 ranked teams: Here’s where it really means more for the SEC — we know fans of teams in the conference are incredibly proud of their schools, and the SEC itself. But when teams like these meet up for a top-five matchup, it’s almost like a pre-conference championship game. The winning fan base will hold this kind of game with them until the next one, no matter what happens the rest of the season. And the hype of the game will undoubtedly translate onto the field.

Two stout defenses: There’s not many more on-field things than this in the SEC, right? Alabama’s defense isn’t what it has been in the past, but there’s still NFL talent on that side of the ball. But Georgia’s defense, well, that’s a unit that’s going to keep people in Tuscaloosa up at night, whether they want to admit it or not. Going up against Alabama’s offensive weapons is going to be a treat for college football fans everywhere. It’s a matchup that you’re just not getting anywhere else.

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The TOL crew debates which dominant unit between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia will have a greater impact in the highly touted showdown.

A true SEC QB: For a genuinely epic SEC game, you need to have a quarterback with a name that just screams SEC — something like Hutson or Grayson or… Stetson, as in Georgia’s walk-on turned starter, Stetson Bennett IV. Unfortunately, we only get one of those in this game, as Mac Jones is really more of a Big 12 QB name, which helps explain Alabama’s all-offense/no-defense start to the season.

Game Day Q&A

After an ugly 24-2 loss to Kentucky, Mississippi State coach Mike Leach suggested a “purge” might be in order on his roster, saying a number of players might not be sold on what he’s trying to build in Starkville. We caught up with Leach to find out about the mood in the locker room, the problems on offense and the SEC suddenly looking like an Air Raid conference.

ESPN: You said after last week’s loss that you may need to get rid of some malcontents on the team. How do you identify those guys and how do you manage it?

Leach: The first week, I don’t think we were quite as good as maybe we or other people thought. We’re dealing with a group that’s got very limited experience. Almost none of our guys started last year. I don’t really think it’s malcontents across the board as much as you just have those guys who are kind of wait-and-see. You have a little of, “How’s this going to turn out?” rather than really locking in and letting it rip out there. We’ve got to get to that point, and I don’t think we’re at that point yet.

ESPN: How much have the offensive struggles been about young guys learning the scheme vs. unforced errors when guys are pressing to make too much happen?

Leach: Probably some of all of the above, but I do think we’re trying to make too much happen, and once you do that it becomes a series of overcorrections. But the other thing is we just have so many young players that it’s just the learning how to work and prepare is part of it. Coaching-wise, we need to do whatever we can to accelerate that process.

ESPN: In retrospect, did the success in the opener vs. LSU create a problematic image for a team that was still going through some growing pains?

Leach: I think it distorted things a little. It definitely distorted where we were at in our minds probably.

ESPN: Kylin Hill was a huge part of the win over LSU. He had 15 catches last week but didn’t do much with them. Do you need to find ways to better utilize him, and might that mean running the ball more?

Leach: We’ve got to incorporate the running back. We have several good running backs, and we need to get them more involved. It’s kind of a Catch-22 where we have to get our linemen in order to do that. We’re breaking in some guys up front who I think are going to be great players, but we need to get them there as quick as we can.

ESPN: Did you hear any feedback from your players about the “purge” comment?

Leach: Not really, but if people aren’t bought in or ready to play or committed, we’re more than willing to do that. That’s always been part of the process as far as building teams. They may use different words, but weeding out the guys that aren’t on board and elevating the guys who are, that’s all part of it and always has been.

ESPN: You’re a guy who’s synonymous with offense. What do you make of people suddenly shocked at all the scoring happening in the SEC?

Leach: It’s been happening all along. It’s interesting because I get into this conference and we’re supposed to be the only ones throwing the ball in the SEC. Everybody’s throwing the ball in the SEC and they were a couple years ago, too. LSU won the national championship throwing the ball. So I think some of it is just stigma that people keep repeating.

After ‘Thick Six,’ NC State goes for win No. 4

NC State’s Alim McNeill has always been big, but when he was in high school, fans and coaches just assumed he weighed less than he did. How else to explain the athleticism? The guy played middle linebacker on the football team and right field on his baseball team, had a 36-inch vertical leap and could run the 40 in 4.65 seconds.

All that would be impressive enough for a guy checking in at 245 or 250. McNeill’s actual weight back then?

“I played at 292,” he said, “and that was probably the most athletic I’ve ever been.”

So while the rest of the college football world watched in awe as the now 320-pound McNeill showcased that athleticism with one of the year’s top plays — a batted ball at the line of scrimmage that he then fielded like a pop fly and returned 18 yards for a touchdown — the folks who know him well weren’t surprised.

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NC State defensive lineman Alim McNeill tips the interception to himself and is able to return it for a touchdown.

“They all said they knew it was going to happen eventually,” McNeill said of the play.

OK, he did get his share of texts and jokes about the big man rumbling into the end zone, too. His favorite: “One guy called it a ‘Thick Six,'” McNeill said. Never let it be said McNeill can’t take a joke. Just don’t go suggesting the play took anything miraculous.

“I wasn’t winded at all,” he said of his jaunt into the end zone, which was followed by a sprint along the back line and into the arms of teammates. “I was just excited.”

Around NC State, there’s ample room for excitement beyond the occasional Thick Six, too.

After a dismal 2019 season in which bad luck and a run of injuries decimated the Wolfpack, this year’s team is just starting to round into form, led by an increasingly impressive defense. The Wolfpack host Duke on Saturday and could get to 4-1 in conference play for only the second time under coach Dave Doeren.

“It’s starting to click now, where we’re finding out about each other and how we fit together,” McNeill said of the defense. “I don’t see anything else but us getting better and better.”

What to watch for

The best QB in college football goes for a record: Trevor Lawrence has not thrown an interception since the first half of Clemson’s win over Louisville on Oct. 19, 2019 — just shy of one full calendar year ago. Since then, Lawrence has completed 70% of his passes, accounted for nearly 4,000 yards and tallied 43 touchdowns. The streak now stands at 355 throws without a pick, and if he can add 25 more attempts to that tally against Georgia Tech on Saturday, he’ll break the ACC record held by Russell Wilson (per ESPN Stats & Information research).

Notre Dame’s next pushover: The Irish come into the week ranked No. 4 in the country and that might be entirely reasonable. Tough to tell though. In their first three games, the Irish have played Duke (1-3), USF and Florida State (0-6 combined vs. FBS). Next up? That’d be Louisville, owner of a 1-3 mark, with the only win coming against woeful Western Kentucky. The fact that the Duke and FSU games at least flirted with being close offers some cause for pessimism about the Irish, and it’s not likely that a win — even a dominant one — over the Cardinals will change that. It’s fair to say the ACC, thus far, isn’t exactly making a strong case Notre Dame needs to join the league permanently to be better positioned for future playoff berths.

Syracuse prepares for a Freeze: There might be just a little bad blood when Liberty heads to The Dome in Syracuse on Saturday. Back in August, Syracuse AD John Wildhack had harsh words for the Flames’ lackluster COVID-19 testing policy, but Liberty offered assurances of better protocols moving forward, and now the two teams will actually meet on the field. Last year, Syracuse had no problem squashing Liberty — with Hugh Freeze watching from a hospital bed in the press box, no less — but this year figures to be less of a pushover for the struggling Orange. Syracuse will be without QB Tommy DeVito, who is probably out for the season because of a leg injury, and Liberty arrives with one of the most versatile QBs in the country thus far, former Auburn transfer Malik Willis.

UMass plays a game: The Minutemen weren’t sure they’d get to this point, but they’ll officially make their 2020 debut Saturday against Georgia Southern. The FBS Independent didn’t have a conference to decide its fate — or its schedule — but it has been beholden to the state of Massachusetts for regulations on dealing with playing during the virus. That has meant 14 practices in 19 days to prep for this game, and the team is playing with 68 healthy scholarship players and no walk-ons (they weren’t allowed back on campus yet). There’s optimism UMass will get a few more games scheduled soon, too, but head coach Walt Bell said he’s thrilled to see his team get any opportunity it can to play. “Our kids were awesome through the whole deal,” Bell said. “There was a two- or three-day run you could see it weighing on them, but they’ve fought through it, and we’re able to give them a little light at the end of the tunnel.”

The AAC elimination game: Memphis and UCF play this week, both already having lost games this season. Not many people anticipated this, but it’s consistent with the way the rest of the year has gone in sport and otherwise. That said, this matchup serves as an early elimination game in the conference, at least as far as championship game appearances go. There are too many talented teams this year to even think about making the conference title game with two losses at this point in the season. SMU and Cincinnati have impressed, Navy has rebounded with two conference wins after a poor start to the season, and Houston started off 1-0 last week. This game is a must-win for both the Tigers and Knights.

The Thundering Herd: Undefeated Marshall (3-0) is the best team no one is talking about. Despite having two games postponed this season, the Thundering Herd have two blowout wins over Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky, and an impressive 17-7 win over App State in September. They’ll be taking on 3-1 Louisiana Tech this week, whose only loss was to undefeated BYU. With a 6 p.m. ET start, this game could be a nice little appetizer before the later starts.

An ignominious record: Florida State is a nearly two-touchdown underdog against North Carolina on Saturday, and a loss would set a particularly ugly mark in the school’s history. The Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992, and it took 10 seasons before they lost four ACC games. But a loss to the Tar Heels would be the fourth in a row for FSU in conference play, the first time that has happened, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Player to watch

Lyles: Miami QB D’Eriq King

After a 12-for-28, 121-yard, and two-interception performance against the top-ranked Clemson Tigers, I want to see how King rebounds against Pitt. The Panthers have the 12th-ranked defense in SP+, so it won’t be a simple task. He did run the ball well against Clemson, but he will have to be a more efficient passer this week if the Hurricanes don’t want to drop two in a row.

Hale: BYU QB Zach Wilson

The Cougars get to show off their 4-0 record on Friday night this week, going against a Houston team that opened its season with an impressive win last week after a long delay to the season. That gives the country a chance to see Wilson on a big stage, and you won’t want to miss the chance. The BYU QB is quickly turning heads at the NFL level and could work his way into first-round consideration if he continues his hot start. Through four games, Wilson is averaging 12.3 yards per pass — a number bettered only by Alabama’s Mac Jones — while completing an FBS-best 81.2% of his throws. Last season, Houston ranked 115th nationally in passing defense (by yards-per-attempt), so Wilson could pad those already impressive numbers Friday.

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BYU QB Zach Wilson tosses a short pass to RB Lopini Katoa, who finds his way into the end zone for the touchdown.

Under-the-radar game of the week

Lyles: Cincinnati vs. Tulsa

Cincinnati is the highest-ranked Group of 5 team in the country, and probably has the best shot of them all to conceivably make the College Football Playoff (though I wouldn’t count on it even in the best scenario). This game won’t be a cakewalk for the Bearcats, though. Tulsa played Oklahoma State tough in Week 1, and upset then 11th-ranked UCF the last time they took the field on Oct. 4. Both teams have had an extra week to prepare, so this should be a good one.

Hale: Boston College at Virginia Tech

How many Hokies might miss this one? It has been double-digit absences in each of their first three games, but Virginia Tech has still played well. Yes, the defense struggled in a loss to North Carolina last week, but Khalil Herbert and the ground game are playing elite football. Meanwhile, BC is one flubbed two-point try away from potentially being 4-0 in Jeff Hafley’s first season. Both teams have a few flaws to work out, but these two are proving that there’s real depth in the ACC this year, and there’s still a good chance one of them could emerge as a contender.

Upset pick of the week

Lyles: Arkansas over Ole Miss

Pandemic aside, the thing I absolutely did not expect in 2020 was being intrigued by Arkansas Razorbacks football. The Razorbacks played Georgia hard for a half before Stetson Bennett IV emerged in the second half. They beat Mississippi State a week after K.J. Costello threw for 50 miles against the defending champs, and got hosed against Auburn last week. With as rough as Ole Miss’ defense has looked all season, I’m counting on another Arkansas win. Side note: Doesn’t it seem like Feleipe Franks has been playing college football for a decade?

Hale: Pitt over Miami

NC State reporter Joe Giglio brought up an interesting stat this week about the new “Clemsoning”: Since 2015, ACC teams are just 8-21 the week after playing Clemson. The idea, it would seem, is the Tigers inflict damage that lasts well beyond the game’s end, and given Miami’s high hopes entering last week’s showdown, it wouldn’t be a shock if there was something of a hangover. Of course, Pitt probably has its own morale issues after two straight one-point losses, but let’s not over analyze this. Pitt’s luck has to turn eventually, right? Anyone? Bueller?

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Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home

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On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
– 2020 MLS Playoffs: Who’s in, schedule and more
– MLS on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”

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Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.

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Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment

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The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.

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The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls

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With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

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