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NFL on record scoring pace through Week 4

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The NFL’s offensive surge in 2020 has pushed into historic territory. The league has averaged a combined 51.3 points per game, the highest through four weeks of a season since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

The previous high was 48.1 points per game, set in 2018.

A variety of factors have contributed to the rise in scoring, including high-level quarterback play and the loss of home-crowd advantage. But the most significant shift has been a dramatic drop in penalty flags, the result of an explicit effort by the league to call only “clear and obvious” fouls.

Retired referee Walt Anderson, now the league’s senior vice president of training and development, told NFL.com last month that he does not want officials “all of a sudden to start calling the ticky-tack stuff.” Anderson acknowledged that it’s what “the NFL likes and what the audience likes.”

During the first four weeks of the 2020 season, NFL games have averaged 13.4 flags per game, including those that were declined or offset. That’s the lowest per-game average through four weeks in the ESPN Stats & Information penalty database, which goes back to the 2001. The drop has not been minor, either. The average has fallen 28% from the same period of 2019 and 19.3% from 2017.

The primary cause of the decrease has been a substantial decline in flags for offensive holding. There have been 126 such calls in 2020, the NFL’s lowest total since at least 2001. That’s a 56.3% drop from 2019, when the league made offensive holding a point of emphasis, and 41.2% from 2018.

In addition to fall in flags for holding, NFL offenses have also benefitted from an increase in calls for defensive pass interference. There have been 93 such flags this season, also a high since at least 2001. The average per year from 2001-2019, over the same period of weeks, was 75.9.

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Driving force: DeChambeau claims 400-yd. carry

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — While most of the top players are preparing for the Masters by playing in this weekend’s Zozo Championship, Bryson DeChambeau is at home in his Dallas laboratory concocting ways to tackle Augusta National Golf Club.

On Friday, he unveiled a little bit of his madness, disclosing via Instagram story that he had achieved 401.3 yards of carry with the driver he is working with and “not even the 48-inch driver.”

The device he showed to monitor his progress also showed a ball speed of 211 mph and a hang time of 8.2 seconds.

Count to eight and consider how long his golf ball stayed in the air.

DeChambeau, who won the U.S. Open last month by six shots, said two weeks ago at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open that he planned to spend the month prior to the Masters hitting “2,000 drivers” and experimenting with a 48-inch shaft, the longest allowed by the Rules of Golf.

Most players use a driver length of 44 to 45 inches.

There are a lot of variables, including elevation changes and wind. And a driver might not be the proper play off every tee for DeChambeau, while some shots require a draw or a fade.

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Fury plans Dec. 5 fight in London; Wilder unlikely

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LONDON — WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury said Saturday that he plans to fight in London on Dec. 5, but his opponent is unknown.

“I’d just like to announce I’m definitely fighting December the 5th in London. Opponent to be announced very, very soon,” Fury said in a video message posted on his social media accounts. “Just working on some opponents. Let you all know who it’s going to be shortly.” Fury and his co-promoter Frank Warren recently expressed doubt that a third fight with American Deontay Wilder would happen in 2020.

Fury claimed the WBC belt off Wilder with a seventh-round stoppage in February, after their draw in 2018.

A fight between undefeated Michael Conlan and former WBO junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe has been agreed upon for Dec. 5 at Royal Albert Hall in London. That fight is expected to be part of the Fury card, sources told ESPN’s Steve Kim.

The 32-year-old Fury announced in June that he had agreed to a two-fight deal with Anthony Joshua. The sides said that the first bout could take place sometime in 2021 in what would be an all-British showdown between the current holders of the heavyweight belts.

Joshua is scheduled to fight Kubrat Pulev on Dec. 12 at the O2 Arena in London. The fight was postponed from June because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Follow live: Ohio State opens Big Ten season vs. Nebraska

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first Quarter NEB OSU

TD

13:09

A. Martinez run for 10 yds for a TD, (C. Culp KICK)

4 plays, 75 yards, 1:51

7 0

TD

8:04

M. Teague III run for 1 yd for a TD, (B. Haubeil KICK)

11 plays, 75 yards, 5:05

7 7

TD

4:02

J. Fields pass,to G. Wilson for 42 yds for a TD, (B. Haubeil KICK)

6 plays, 76 yards, 2:18

7 14 second Quarter NEB OSU

TD

8:24

D. Mills run for 3 yds for a TD, (C. Culp KICK)

11 plays, 78 yards, 5:17

14 14

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