What will it take for a Pac-12 team to make the College Football Playoff?

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Don’t completely rule out the Pac-12 from the 2020 College Football Playoff race.

Despite just a seven-game schedule including the conference championship game — on top of a three-year playoff-less streak — the Pac-12 has a 34% chance to put a team in the playoff, per the Allstate Playoff Predictor. Oregon (19%) and USC (13%) are the conference’s two real shots at getting in.

While it’s far from ideal for any conference to have that low of a shot at the playoff before playing a single game, this is actually a slightly better chance than the same model gave the conference back in May (then 28%), working at the time under the assumption of a normal schedule.

Given the circumstances of the Pac-12’s season it’s reasonable to ask: How?

Let’s start with the bad: The Pac-12’s schedules are easy due to their abbreviated nature.

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An average top-25 team would have a 37% chance to go 6-0 against Oregon’s regular-season schedule. That’s high! In fact, that’s the same chance that the average top-25 team would have to go 8-2 against Alabama’s regular-season schedule. And a decent bit harder than the chance to go 7-1 against Penn State’s.

But here’s a secret about the selection committee, at least historically: It over-emphasizes the number of losses a team has. I say “over” because theoretically, the number of losses shouldn’t matter beyond strength of record, which is the top predictor of a team’s playoff chances. To the committee, however, that number is important beyond strength of record, which is why we include it in our model.

And that works to the Pac-12’s advantage. Because there’s a very real chance the Pac-12 champion is undefeated. In fact, it’s a 44% chance.

When it comes to selection day, an undefeated champion will surely at


NEC OncoImmunity AS and Oslo University Hospital Team Up to Develop a Diagnostic for COVID-19 Using Artificial Intelligence

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NEC OncoImmunity AS (NOI), a subsidiary of NEC Corporation (NEC), and Oslo University Hospital (OUH) are pleased to announce that they have recently been awarded a prestigious grant from the Research Council of Norway (RCN) to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that will enable the rapid design of T-cell diagnostics for emerging or endemic infectious diseases. The project will develop a novel T-cell diagnostic for the current COVID-19 pandemic to complement the current serological tests. This will improve the ability to identify immune responses and acquired immunity, which is desperately needed to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Current technologies involve extensive trial and error to define exactly which parts of the pathogen induces robust immunity. These so-called immunodominant epitopes need to be identified for the general population. These demanding, work-intensive and time-consuming steps are necessary to develop tests to monitor the T-cell response to viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (the infectious virus that causes COVID-19).

Reliable diagnostic tests to identify immune individuals are critical to overcome the ever-looming threat of COVID-19. The AI-based diagnostic to be developed in this project will complement antibody tests and enable individuals who are naturally immune to the virus following infection with SARS-CoV-2 or other seasonal coronaviruses, or who have acquired immunity following vaccination, to be identified.

“Antibody tests are an important aspect of understanding the immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection and will remain a mainstay of its diagnosis. However, protective SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses occur in antibody-negative infected individuals who have successfully resolved the infection. In addition, we may already have underlying immunity in the population due to cross reactivity to endemic seasonal human coronaviruses,” said Professor Ludvig A. Munthe Ph.D., Head of Research and Group Leader, Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital.

Although the technology to develop antibody diagnostics is readily


University of Miami basketball team lands four-star Class of ’21 guard Jakai Robinson

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Jakai Robinson, a highly touted guard from the Washington, D.C. area, committed to the University of Miami during the weekend, becoming the third guard in the Hurricanes’ Class of 2021.

Robinson, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard known for his toughness, is considered the No. 2 basketball recruit in Maryland. He chose Miami over UConn, North Carolina State, Seton Hall and Georgetown.

The Canes had previously received commitments from 6-1 point guard Bensley Joseph and 6-4 combo guard Nisine Poplar.

Robinson’s high school coach Trevor Brown at National Christian Academy told 247 Sports, which first reported the news: “Jakai and his father really like the fact that they have an experienced coaching staff over there. The coaching staff is established and has been together for a long time, much like my staff has. Miami has had a lot of success developing wing players. They play a lot of pick-and-roll type basketball. They get up and down the court pretty well and play with a decent pace. Those are all of the things Jakai does really well.”

Miami starting point guard Chris Lykes will be a senior this season, so coach Jim Larranaga and his staff now have three Class of 2021 prospects, along with returning guards Harlond Beverly and Isaiah Wong, to fill the void.

The college basketball season begins the last week of November.


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Best Game of Gio Urshela’s Career Helps Yankees Eliminate His Former Team

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After spending the first nine years of his professional baseball career within the Indians organization, Gio Urshela was designated for assignment by Cleveland on May 4, 2018.

Over two years later, Urshela got his revenge.

Between a go-ahead grand slam at the plate and a game-saving double play at third base, Urshela was instrumental in the Yankees’ 10-9 series-clinching victory over the Indians. 

“That was the one of the best games I’ve ever played in my life,” Urshela said.

As the Bombers celebrated at Progressive Field, moving on to face the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series, Urshela’s former club began to pack its bags for a long offseason. 

That’s exactly what Urshela went through back in 2017, when the Yankees eliminated his Indians in the ALDS. This time, his contributions were instrumental in a Bombers victory.

“Gio was probably the star of the game, amongst the many big time performances,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the four hour and 50 minute marathon, the longest nine-inning game in Major League Baseball history.

Down three runs in the fourth inning, the Bombers loaded the bases, chasing right-hander Carlos Carrasco from the game in favor of lights-out reliever James Karinchak. That’s when Urshela stepped up to the plate.

New York’s rising star pounced on a full-count offering, sending a Karinchak fastball 432 feet and over the wall in left-center field. It was the first postseason grand slam by a Yankees third baseman in franchise history.

[I was] trying to get a pitch to hit,” Urshela said. “It went to a three-two count. Trying to put the ball in play, capitalize on anything in there. Thank God I got the homer.”

Urshela knew it was gone as soon as it left his bat, emphatically flipping his bat and


Tear gas isn’t banned; Jersey City seniors deserve better housing; Education Matters team should win | Letters

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Get the facts on tear gas

I’m surprised to see that law enforcement was awarded the cash for riot gear (“Three and a half months after first request, Hudson County law enforcement agencies will get tear gas”). But more surprised to see a member of the public being quoted as saying “tear gas is banned under the Geneva Convention.”

It is not.

And he is mistaken in his assumption that it pertains to protests of the nature we have been experiencing.  He might want to review the document in its entirety starting with “Basic Rules of International Humanitarian law in Armed Conflicts,” which this is not classified, and “Protection of Civilian Persons and Populations in Time of War,” which we are not.

Kenneth Keane, Eatontown, formerly of Jersey City

Seniors need more and better housing options

Jersey City needs better senior housing. We need more senior housing and better buildings equipped with more amenities such as indoor pools.

The city has permitted the building of condos , condos and more condos. But affordable housing and proper senior housing are scarce and or not available.

Waiting lists for senior housing are backed up for four years. This is ridiculous and seems just another effort to force out anyone who cannot pay the new exorbitant rents.

So far, the administration has not paid any attention to seniors or citizens seeking good affordable housing. They have had more than four years of a building spree that should have included new housing for everyone. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Joan Scerbo, Jersey City

Vote for Education Matters Team

On Nov. 3, vote for the Education Matters Team.

The team consists of Lorenzo Richardson 1-i, Gina Verdibello, 2-i, Lekendrick Shaw 3-i. This team is not beholden to billionaire developers and politicians. The team is

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