Week 7 Preliminary Blogpoll

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
Rank Team Delta
1 Alabama 1
2 Texas 3
3 Penn State 1
4 Oklahoma 3
5 Utah 3
6 Florida 5
7 Southern Cal 2
8 Oklahoma State 7
9 Brigham Young 1
10 Texas Tech 3
11 Missouri 8
12 LSU 6
13 Georgia 1
14 Ohio State 1
15 Boise State 1
16 Kansas 2
17 South Florida
18 Ball State 1
19 Michigan State 4
20 North Carolina 6
21 Tulsa
22 Vanderbilt 10
23 California 3
24 Pittsburgh
25 Virginia Tech
Dropped Out: Northwestern (#20), Auburn (#22).

Please comment and correct if you see anything out of the ordinary.

Here are a few of the brilliant refutations I expect to hear about how these retarded opinions suck.

“Texas just won biggest game of year. You put them at #2 because you still hate Mack Brown you biased hippie.” Texas stumbled around for three quarters before laying the wood on Oklahoma, but it wasn’t like they dominated that game. They’re still picking up the bodies from the Black Out at Athens. Alabama has the most impressive win of the season, and they will stay right where they are until they are knocked out.

“WHY IS UTAH IN THE TOP 5. THEIR NOT IN BIG CONFENCE MORON.” Utah beating Michigan in the Big House to open the season, winning a close one with Air Force, and then coming back to beat Oregon State in the last two minutes represent three of the most impressive major wins of the season. Find another team with three quality wins like that below them and we’ll talk.

“You can’t be serious with this Tulsa/Ball State crap. MIDMAJORS R SUXORS.” Oh yes I can. Ball State is 7-0, Tulsa is 6-0. Tulsa has won their games by an average of 27 points. Ball State has throttled a decent Navy team and destroyed Indiana. Neither of these teams might have played terribly brilliant competition, but you can’t deny their denominance of crappy opponents. How is it much different from what Big 12 teams were doing up to this week?

“Why is Michigan State over Cal. HOW DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE???”
Because although Cal enjoyed a great victory over the Spartans, (1) we won by seven, and (2) we were at home. Reverse the site, play on the same date, and the result is probably the opposite.

In other words, we didn’t convincingly beat them. And the Spartans have rolled the last six weeks and played two more games than us. They’ve earned this ranking. Note that Kansas is ranked over South Florida for similar reasons.

Speaking of the Golden Bears…

“Cal should be higher.” Not really. Nothing Cal has done in the past four weeks is enough to justify their inclusion here. Two bye weeks, a rout over Colorado State and hanging on against a tumbling Sun Devil team do not necessitate a meteoric rise (no offense to Brian, but he’s obviously never seen the Bears play if he’s putting them here). They are here by default, but it’s anyone’s guess if they’re sticking in the top 25 this time around. The Arizona game will tell us if they belong.

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Inside the Playbook: USC 28, Arizona State 0

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, October 13th, 2008

After starting the season on a fairly upbeat note, the Arizona State offensive line has again crumbled into a jumbling mess, giving up ten sacks in its last three games and turning Rudy Carpenter into the Incredible Human Punching Bag. One has to wonder where exactly ASU’s pass protection is going for the second straight year, as it is now ranked 98th in the country, giving up 2.2 sacks per game (98th in Division I) and 2.92 rushing yards per carry (111th in Division I, tying them with Washington State).

Things bottomed out for the Sun Devils this past weekend, when they received four Mark Sanchez turnovers in the third quarter, two that allowed the ASU offense to start inside the Trojan red zone, and proceeded to gain a grand total of -6 yards and miss two field goals to preserve the bagel. Seriously, what the hell happened here?

Again, thanks to key contacts within the Sun Devil organization, we have managed to obtain the pass protection playbook for Arizona State’s offensive linemen. Due again to copyright issues and all that jazz, we can only provide our handmade copies of these notes, but obviously this radical approach to pass-blocking might have to be revamped.

The results are surprisingly consistent. You be the judge.

asuoline

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The Great Hype Machine

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Tony brought up an interesting point yesterday about Cal football players drinking the Kool-Aid.  More so than in any other sport, the best college football teams swing dramatically in their performance week-to-week. While we haven’t had outright stinkers in huge games we’re expected to win, the Golden Bears usually earn the maximum effort from our opponents while they struggle with their mental focus. Result: Painful loss that causes fan to drink heavily until blacked out.

The Washington State rout was our big “hype package” this year; rolling a sterile Cougar team by 63 points seemed to indicate we were a great team, that we were capable of going undefeated and rolling to a BCS bowl. Obviously that rosy scenario hasn’t played out exactly as planned. And considering how Wazzu has performed since that obliteration, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that this might not rank among their top five most embarrassing losses.

This brings me to yesterday’s carnage, specifically Missouri-Oklahoma State. See how Heisman frontrunner Chase Daniel and Missouri struggled to get on the same page the whole day? A combination of Oklahoma State getting angry about not getting any dap and mistakes by Missouri, and their national title hopes were put on life support. They bought into the hype and they paid. Ditto Oklahoma being hyped up as the best team in the country, and then got outscored 25-7 to blow a rivalry game that they usually own.

The Missouri-Oklahoma State game reminds me a lot of the one forthcoming this week–a fairly confident Cal team travelling into desert to meet with a unknown commodity. I would be a thousand times more worried about the Arizona game if we were 5-0 rather than 4-1, because Cal hasn’t really done anything to show me they’re much better than they are. The Wildcats, still fairly peripheral to the national spotlight, would definitely be looking for a prime reason to knock off the Bears to assert themselves in the conference.

Nevertheless, we have a less attractive version of that scenario emerging this week. Arizona gets thoroughly dominated at the line of scrimmage last week by the resurgent ‘Furd. Cal is 4-1, and despite not looking sharp on offense at all, has to be pretty confident about cruising past a stumbling Arizona State team. It’d be easy for them to look ahead, but hopefully with only minimal hype and a fairly quiet #25 ranking, the Bears won’t buy into it quite yet.

So for all those people griping about California not getting any respect, shhhh. It’s the best thing that can possibly happen to us. In college football the best teams are only as good as next week’s performance.

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Did That Cloud Of Humidity Have A Silver Lining?

Posted by: Tony on Saturday, October 11th, 2008

On a Saturday one month ago, writing sunburned, beer-addled and depressed in northern VA, I requested that we never speak of the Maryland debacle again.  But a month removed, facing our second bye week of the season, I find myself wondering what the world of Cal football would be like if we had somehow won that game.  If, for example, we had prevented that last Terp touchdown, and then perhaps won in OT, where would we be now?  The bigger question is this:  would we really be better off?

Certainly if we’d squeaked by Maryland, we’d now be ranked in the top 15 in both polls.  Prior to that game, we were ranked #23/25, behind #22/22 Utah (with hapless Clemson and West Virginia between us in the Coaches Poll).  Utah, having done nothing more spectacular since then than avoid the Beavers’ thrilling comeback bid, has risen to #14/13 in the polls.  So, at a minimum, Cal would be #15/14.  However, I think it’s actually more likely that we’d now be ranked in the top 10, ahead of at least one or two of the four former national-title contenders with one loss each (U$C, Georgia, Florida and Ohio State).  That also doesn’t take into account whatever carnage will emerge from the Red River, LSU-Florida and elsewhere while we’re idle this week.  Indeed, the only undefeated BCS conference schools presently not ranked in the top 10 are teams that were unranked a month ago.

So think about that for a moment.  In my counterfactual, Cal would have performed roughly the same in all five games as we did in reality, but rather than bearly cracking the rankings, would now be undefeated at 5-0, ranked in the top 10 nationally, and would be perceived to have the inside track to win the conference.  With U$C’s loss to OSU, the atmosphere would be very similar to last year at this point.  The pressure would be high.  And after smashing ASU in the mouth, the team would be starting to buy into its own hype.  We all know the madness that resides down that road.

Instead, back in the real world, we as fans are healthfully apprehensive and pessimistic.  Our Bears are focused and driven.  They know their own mortality.  They will not take any foe for granted.

During the duration of my Cal fandom, Cal has (surprisingly) had three 5-0 starts — 1996, 2005 and 2007.  All three of those seasons ended in late-season collapses.  By contrast, the two most successful seasons during that same period, 2004 and 2006, are notable for the presence of an early-season setback.  The losses to U$C and Tennessee in those respective years were both emotionally devastating.  But I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that those seasons turned out better than the others.  The losses grounded the team.  Perhaps more than that, when you lose early in the season, the only options are to either turn things around or to simply write the season off.  When you lose later in the season, on the other hand, you have the option to rest on your laurels and ride out the rest of the season in mediocrity.  That’s definitely what we saw last year, and probably in ’96 and ’05 too.

To state the obvious, I’d of course rather be undefeated right now.  But I have to admit I get excited seeing Cal at the top of those early Pac-10 standings, with only Arizona standing between us and a lonely perch at the top.  And I find it odd to ponder that part of my excitement is knowing the team has already looked defeat in the eye and, rather than sleepwalk through the next two games, instead took the loss out on its opponents in a physical fashion.  Perhaps we owe Maryland a small debt of gratitude… in addition to the 2009 bloodletting they have awaiting them in Berkeley.  Seriously, they should just go ahead and adopt “Rocky Top” as their fight song right now.

Parting Shots

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, October 10th, 2008

Before we head into the fearsome bye weekend (woohoo watch other teams win and loose!), just a few rejoinders:

That’s all for this week. Tony’s got an article tomorrow, and I’ll have some response to that on Sunday. Enjoy your football feast this weekend!

What I Learned From The Bear Insider

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, October 10th, 2008

There are so many things I learn from reading message boards. I get these deep, penetrating insights that I could never get from being in the locker room and can thus virtually coach the game based on what anonymous posters have discovered through the game. You just get the feeling that they should be watching the game.

Most of it is the usual blah blah “Hey everyone was great IN TEDFORD WE TRUST LOL!” or provide decent analysis of the situation with grand story arcs thrown around to encompass their viewpoints of “GO BEARS!” But some angrier and more maligned folk try their best to spread the true darker world of Cal football.  Without them, we’d be lost in the desert, waiting for Tom Holmoe and Keith Gilbertson to bring us home.

Here’s the prescient lurkerbear with some brilliant opining.

Whatever else came out of this week, one thing that’s changed for me is that I’m no longer a “fan” of Jeff Tedford. I’m now indifferent. That’s not to say I want him fired or gone; that isnt’ the case. I really do appreciate the miracle he’s worked with this program. But I don’t have any particular affection for him either. I’ve come to believe that whether or not he can get us to the “next level” is no better than a 50/50 proposition, and I don’t have much faith in his ability to exceed the level of an 8-4 type program.

Absolutely; when a coach doesn’t do better than winning two-thirds of his game, something is clearly wrong with him. In any other sport this would be a blinding success, but not in college! It’s not like coaches will ever not go 8-4 and then occasionally do things like get to a BCS bowl.

It’s kind of like a video game. If you haven’t reached that next level yet, shouldn’t you just take over and make all the personnel decisions? Let lurkerbear lead us to the promised land!

Incognito, however, is the grand vizier of sports forum theory. He finally reveals the grand conspiracy behind Jeff Tedford’s quarterback machinations. Even I have to admit even I didn’t think Tedford was capable of such ingenuity. But don’t put it past this modern-day Klemens von Metternich:

I have to believe that the way Tedford spoke to the media after the CSU game that Riley’s job would have been in jeopardy regardless. Nothing short of a perfect performance on the part of Riley would have saved his job. Tedford has been looking to bench him since MSU. The only thing that earned Riley a start the next week at WSU was Longshores two interceptions. Tedford started Riley, overloaded him with bs mechanics, and looked for him to fail so he could reinstall Longshore. The only reason he started Riley week 1 was to placate the fan base.

Of course! Clearly Tedford wasn’t concerned with the trivial matter of winning games or building a program. Nor was he trying to evaluate who would give the team the best chance to succeed on the field. What he clearly planning the entire time was setting up Riley to fail so he could  please them early on and spite the fan base in the long run.  Knowing that Riley couldn’t handle the most basic quarterback development via “bs mechanics”, he schemed in a dark corner with Frank Cignetti, chomping at the bit to put Nate back on the field. So obvious. That Tedford, such a crowd pleaser.

Sometimes you just can’t get at the deeper truth being on the field or viewing practices up close. You need to watch from a television 500 hundred miles away. But that’s what we have citizen Cal football activists like incognito for.

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Will All of Cal’s Football Games Get Televised?

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Thursday’s usually nonsense day here at BN, so it’s not surprising that we’re discussing the boob tube. But there are fun discussions going on with out friends at CGB. For those who want to know what being a Cal fan is like, click here (plus my response to this question, which is looking like my new “About” description for this site). For those who want fashion (FASHION?) related talk (and yes, it’s Cal-related), click for my writeup over at CGB.

It’s a bye week though, so we’re going to try and answer this pertinent question in 1200 words or less: Are all of California’s football games getting on the screen?

These predictions are all cognizant on Cal being relevant, which if they aren’t, no one will care. Assuming Cal doesn’t tumble and maintains a moderate level of respect, the Golden Bears will probably be televised in their remaining games, all except a surprising one. The USC, Arizona and Washington games will all be televised to some degree, the first and the last possibly nationally.

Since Tom Hansen makes every week of football an exercise in channel-flicking, we’re going to have break down every game and decide how much exposure our Golden Bears are getting this season. All times listed are PST.

10/25: UCLA (only 12:30 start time on ABC is available)

The UCLA game is concerning. UCLA is 2-3, probably heading on 2-4 after a visit to Autzen this weekend. More importantly, the twelve day TV pick deadline is the week after this one, and the Golden Bears are of course off this weekend. FSN has already booked the USC-Arizona game. So the ABC slot is what’s left for our team, with a slim shot at getting picked up locally.

Two things work in our favor: (1) ESPN’s love of the Golden Bears, which picked up every Cal game not televised by other networks last season (even the Washington game, when our football team dwindled to irrelevance), (2) Arizona State’s tumble to the bottom of the conference, which will only get worse with a trip to LA Coliseum this weekend. If ASU had acheived moderate success it would probably be a shoo-in that this game was televised because both them and the Ducks were supposed to be upper echelon Pac-10 squads, but if Arizona State drops their second game in conference this game loses most of its meaning.

Oregon doesn’t exactly look hot either after their demolition in LA, but these two teams did just play what seemed like the Pac-10 title game at the time. Oh well.

I know people won’t be happy with this, but if you want the max probability that the Golden Bear game will be televised, root for the baby Bruins to upset the Ducks. In the long run, it’s for the greater good.

(I have not counted out local coverage, but we won’t know about it until after the tweleve day selection.

Probability: 60% for ABC, 30% for local coverage.

11/1: Oregon (either ABC at 12:30 or FSN HD at 3:30)

This game will be televised. The only question is what time and where. Since these teams are expected to finish in the top tier of the conference, you’d expect ABC to pick them up–except USC-Washington is also on the slate. Granted, this game will probably be an unholy massacre, but never underestimate the greed of Walt Disney–USC generally draws in the most viewers.

In this case, I wouldn’t mind. The Cal-Oregon game would be nationally rather than regionally televised on FSN, and we get the high-def broadcast. Interestingly, losses by either the Ducks or Bears would diminish the luster of this game and likely give USC the 12:30 slot. So…for the second straight time, root for UCLA to upset Oregon (they have a bye the week after, so this is the only game they’ll play before the twelve day selection).

If USC retains their championship-worthy form against ASU and Wazzu, they are probably getting this spot. Even if the preliminary line is USC -70.5.

Probability: 43% on ABC, 57% on FSN

11/15: Oregon State (12:30 on ABC or 7 on FSN HD)

Our competition for the two slots this week: Wazzu at ASU, Arizona at Oregon, Washington/UCLA (the Stanford-USC game will be on Versus). Again, fairly good odds we get this game. Depending on how Rudy Carpenter is faring, the Washington State-Arizona State game has the longest shot of being televised because both teams could both be reasonably under .500. UW-UCLA is a crap shoot–both do have strong fanbases, but neither of these teams are likely to be competitive come November 3rd.

That leaves Arizona-Oregon. Now, we can influence this decision a lot by beating both of these schools. If we do, ABC is almost certainly going to pickup our game (regardless of the USC result, since the pick must be made twelve days beforehand) since the result could have huge implications on the Pac-10 race. Both of these teams beating us means we probably head to Corvallis at night, which sounds like a nightmare and something I want no part of. The more likely outcome is the 1-1 split, which leaves us up in the air.

Now, some of this will depend on our opponent. Given his relative success in the past, it’s unlikely the upset of USC was an aberration for Mike Riley. As long as he doesn’t have a meltdown (three of their next opponents are the horrid Washington schools and at UCLA, with the Sun Devils interspersed in there), Oregon State will probably have a winning record coming into this game, so the probability of this game not being televised is closed to nil. Unless someone high up at FSN is a Husky alum and wants to drive us all mad.

Probability: 40% on ABC, 50% on FSN HD, 10% not televised

11/22: The Big Game (who knows)

Oh Lord. FSN HD screwed up by scheduling the Apple Cup way ahead of time, which should be a fascinating cripple fight between two teams fighting their way out of last place. Oregon State and Arizona play, which could very well have interesting Pac-10 ramifications (high likelihood both teams are playing for bowl position). We will almost certainly be relegated to a local broadcast, and even there nothing’s been assured or signed.

There is one saving grace. Assuming the ‘Furd has an above average season (an upset here and there, a winning record), there is a 50-50 chance they head into the Big Game with a winning record. If Cal can maintains the strong pace they’ve been setting, ESPN could pick up the game (like they did for Arizona State-Oregon last season, although that game was deservedly high profiled). It’s a long shot, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

The only other way this game could get nationally televised: Beating USC at the Coliseum. But that’s not a scenario I’ve even bothered to entertain.

Probability: 99% for at least local broadcast, 15% for national broadcast

There is a good shot all of these games get televised. But I’ll err on the pessimistic side until I know for sure.

“We Are 4-1 And We Couldn’t Have Sucked More.”

Posted by: Avinash on Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

These mumblings were recorded and parsed together of a slightly inebriated Cal fan. His ramblings below are to be considered the drunken incoherency of a derelict and not an accurate sample of the actual Golden Bear fanbase. I hope.

drunkcalfan

WHAT IN JESUS CHRIST NATE LONGSHORE? What’s he doing in there? Might as well just leave right now. This one’s done.

OH wow NATE, you can throw that swing pass so well. Must be a real challenge. I’m sure Kevin could never have made that throw, it’d have probably murdered a ref, right Tedford?

It must be so nice to have your coach smitten with you. You going to Chez Panisse with him after the game you love handle?

Hey, good touchdown. Always tough to score on a forty yard field. Now we’ll see Riley when we’ve lost three straight rather than two. Always finding a way to screw us aren’t you Nate. Might as well reserve my ticket to the Wachovia Toilet Bowl.

Nice job defense. Why don’t you just hand out first downs like the Fed hands out free. When they pass you blitz. It’s simple as that. My 4th grade French teacher knows that and she doesn’t even watch football. Or was that the Nazis?

WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THROWING AT??? CAN YOU JUST PUT ON YOUR SUN DEVIL HELMET ALREADY AND DECLARE YOUR ALLEGIANCE TO LUCIFER? That dude was fatter than you, and that’s saying something!!

Syd’Quan you idiot! You gotta pick that ball! Don’t do this soft “knock the ball away”. BE A REAL BEAR AND go for the pick! Nate can’t drive us more than forty yards. The fail is strong in this one.

See what happens guys? You don’t try for pick sixes and we get two penalties and a Bush Push TD. That’s what you get for not being aggressive. I could run this defense from the stands better than Bob could with his six figure salary. How much can I pay off the AD to send Gregory packing?

Man, you’re the savior NATE. No one could’ve lobbed that ball up in traffic quite like you. Gotta be happy Boateng bailed you out. Why don’t you just kick the ball next time Longshore, anything to prevent that BS you call “passing”.

Weak hit Zack. Couldn’t you have hit him harder? LIKE TAKE HIS HEAD OFF? You going to play nice with little douchenozzles like Rudy–I pay big money for BLOOD. YOU GOTTA DECAPACITATE; F’IN PATHETIC.

What was up with that Anger? Look how close that came to being a touchback. WHY DON’T YOU BE A MAN AND KICK THAT BALL RIGHT INTO THE RETURNER’S FACEMASK. This is why you’re the freaking punter, you good-for-nothing pegleg.

Great running Vereen. You might as well take a knee and not fumble the ball, since you’re not good at things like moving forward or not getting tackled. A deep pass ends this one and we’re handing it off to you to stumble into the ground. Oh that’s right, you’ve got Mr. 4th Quarter Nightmare behind you. I’d pity you if my ticket price was six times lower.

Oh wooohooo, we just edged out a lousy Arizona State team. We might’ve tolerated this nonsense when we suck sucked, but now that we’re good we gotta make our opponents bend over and take it every Saturday. What the hell’s Sandy’s number? She’s gotta hold Coach responsible for this. Steve Spurrier available? He can getttit done.

WE’RE 4-1 HEADIN’ ON 4-8. I’MMA GONNA GO FINE ME SOME HOE.

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Blogpoll Week 6: WITH PHOTOS!

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
Rank Team Delta
1 Oklahoma 1
2 Alabama 1
3 Missouri 3
4 Penn State
5 Texas
6 LSU 5
7 Texas Tech 1
8 Utah 1
9 Southern Cal 2
10 Brigham Young
11 Florida 2
12 Vanderbilt 3
13 Ohio State 3
14 Georgia
15 Oklahoma State 5
16 Boise State 2
17 South Florida 10
18 Kansas 1
19 Ball State 4
20 Northwestern 2
21 Tulsa 5
22 Auburn 10
23 Michigan State 3
24 Pittsburgh 2
25 Virginia Tech
Dropped Out: Oregon (#19), Connecticut (#21), Kentucky (#24).
Our weekly thanks to MgoBlog for setting this all up and now getting sponsorship with CBS (woohoo sellout!); you can view ballots by voter and ballots by team here.

This is usually the time where I go off describing why which team goes where and why it goes were and why this team doesn’t go there and why I put some team elsewhere. However, since almost nothing happened this week that tingled me in any way, I’m just going to leave you with pictures of signs from the locales in which this team resides. They might have social or cultural implications or underlying themes that describe how thorough their victories were last week. Or they might just be pictures of signs. You be the judge.

Oklahoma 49, Baylor 17
Alabama 14 Kentucky 7
Missouri 52, Nebraska 17
Penn State 20, Purdue 6
Texas 38, Colorado 14
Texas Tech 58, Kansas St. 28
Utah 31, Oregon St. 28
USC 44, Oregon 10
BYU 34, Utah State 14

Florida 38, Arkansas 7

Vanderbilt 14, Auburn 13
Ohio State 20, Wisconsin 17
Oklahoma St. 56, Texas A&M 28
Boise State 38, Louisiana Tech 3

Kansas 35, Iowa St. 33
Ball State 31, Toledo 0

Tulsa 63, Rice 28
Michigan State 16, Iowa 13
Pittsburgh 26, South Florida 21

Virginia Tech 27, West Kentucky 13

Inside the Playbook: USC 44, Oregon 10

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, October 6th, 2008

Thanks to tipsters that might or might not have originated from this page, we have obtained exclusive copy of Nick Allotti’s defensive plans for the USC game. Despite the seeming brilliance that lies from such a gameplan, the Ducks fell a little short. In order to avoid copyright issues, we have created our own renditions of these defensive schemes and will let you be the judge if this was the proper way to stop the Trojans in their tracks.

1st down strategy seems pretty basic, 2nd down strategy unique, 3rd down strategy revolutionary. We’ll have to see if the brilliant Oregon Duck secondary (ranked #1 by Phil Steele) will be able to utilize these schemes effectively in future games. Work in progress, methinks.

nickallotti1
nickallotti2
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