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Everything Is Still Possible For (Most) College Football Teams

First, we talk about the college football season. Everything is still possible at the moment, but the pressure is on some schools much more than others. Nebraska’s poor showing against Illinois during “Week Zero” led to questions about what coach Scott Frost has accomplished with recruiting classes that should be performing better. Whatever the Huskers need to do to turn it around, they should do it soon. You can only run on nostalgia for so long. But time is also running out for schools on both sides of the SEC expansion. Oklahoma won’t have a clearer path to the playoff than they do this year for a while, and Georgia probably won’t have an SEC East this tamable for a while, either.

Next, we check in on the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. There are some incredible records being set — most notably by swimmer Jessica Long, who now has a career 26 medals and a chance to tie Michael Phelps’ 28 career medals before she leaves Tokyo. But there are also some fun records being set on the track, where wheelchair racers have the edge on their Olympic counterparts at long distances, but not at a sprint. It’s fascinating to see the ways in which technology has evolved for wheelchairs to become extensions of the athletes and help them really chase what’s possible. We also talk about some Paralympic-only events like the fascinating (and very fun-looking) goalball and curling’s summer cousin, boccia.  

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil talks about living in an age of immaculate innings — when a pitcher strikes out three batters on three pitches each. Partly this is due to overall changes in the game. Only Juan Soto currently has more walks than strikeouts of qualified batters this year, and that was very much not the case in Sandy Koufax’s era. But Koufax held the record for immaculate innings with three before Chris Sale tied it last week, and there have already been four of the innings this year. It’s kind of wild Jacob deGrom hasn’t had one yet — although given everything that’s happening in Queens right now, maybe not. 

What we’re looking at this week: 

  • Why Nebraska doesn’t see any new endings in sight. 
  • Why wheelchair racers outpace Olympic distance runners — but not sprinters.  
  • The best, worst and weirdest stats of the 2021 MLB season.  

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.