Tag Archives: Pac-12

Running with the Pac: Week 5

And we’re back with our rankings of who had the best week in the Pac-12. Remember, these aren’t overall power rankings for the season (those will come in a day or two).  They are just rankings of which teams had the best games and weeks.  Teams on a bye are left off unless something happens to warrant inclusion.

1. Stanford Cardinal beat WSU 55-17

I had doubts about the Cardinal before the season, and their first few weeks didn’t do a lot to quell them.  An offense already short on playmakers lost two excellent tight ends and a star running back.  A defense supposed to be among the best in the country looked a bit lackluster for the first couple of games as well.  Stanford has changed course in a hurry.  The defense pounded WSU, knocking Connor Halliday out of the game, and the offense has added a vertical passing dimension it hasn’t had in a while.  I’m still not a complete believer in Stanford, but they look like a completely different offense from the one the Huskies beat last year.

2. Arizona State Sun Devils beat USC 62-41

ASU badly needed a win to maintain any shot at challenging UCLA in the south, and they got it in unexpected fashion.  Everyone knows about USC’s offensive woes, but their defense had been excellent.  ASU showed all of their offensive weapons in an explosion that cost Lane Kiffin his job.  Giving up 41 is concerning, but the win is still big.

3. UW Huskies beat Arizona 31-13

It’s unclear how good the Huskies opponents have been, which makes it tough to know how the Huskies are.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.  Either way, the Huskies handled what looked like a solid but limited Arizona squad.  It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t the blowout Dawg fans were hoping for, but I think that had as much to do with the first half monsoon as with anything the Huskies did.  There was a point where both teams seemed to give up on doing anything more than handing off, and that was a bigger detriment to UW than Arizona.  The defense was stingy all day, and the offense exerted its will most of the game.  It’s a big win for the Huskies, but it didn’t provide as much clarity on the Huskies ability as I’d hoped.  That’ll come soon.

4. OSU Beavers beat Colorado 44-17

After their well-documented slow start, the Beavers are rallying.  They haven’t beat anyone of consequence, but they’ve done what’s necessary to get their season back on track.  I still think their defense will keep them out of the top half of the division, but the offense is as dangerous as any.  Sean Mannion to Brandin Cooks is maybe the top duo in the country.

5. Oregon Ducks beat Cal 55-16

Oregon demolished another poor opponent.  The main reason they’re at the bottom of the winning teams is De’Anthony Thomas’s injury.  It doesn’t sound serious, but he’s likely out this weekend, and hopefully (for the Huskies) the one after.

6. Arizona Wildcats lost to UW 31-13

No one had a “good loss” this week, but Arizona’s wasn’t terrible: on the road, to a ranked opponent, competitive.  As I said, the weather made it hard to glean a lot from that game, but Arizona has a solid defense and an excellent running back.  Quarterback is what’s going to hold them down.  BJ Denker gave no indication he can be any passing threat whatsoever.  The Cats can beat the bad teams, but they’re going to struggle greatly against good defenses until they find a semblance of a passing game.

7. Colorado Buffaloes lost to OSU 44-17

The next three are all pretty interchangeable, but we’ll give the Buffs the top spot because we had low expectations of them and they didn’t suffer any notable injuries or embarrassments that I’m aware of.  The loss did show how far Colorado still has to go before they’ll be competitive.

8. California Golden Bears lost to Oregon 55-16

No one expected Cal to keep this close, but I thought they’d put up a few more points, or at least yards.  They now have a bit of a quarterback controversy as well, for reasons unclear to me.  They switched mid-game from starter Jared Goff to give Zach Kline some snaps.  Maybe it was just to protect the less mobile Goff, but if they were expecting more from a true freshman against Oregon, they’re crazy.  Goff was good enough before Saturday to justify the surprising decision to go with him to start the season, and to change now seems strange to me.  I’d expect to see Goff back in there throwing like crazy.  It might not get Cal many wins, but a dynamic passing game is all they have going for them.

9. WSU Cougars lost to Stanford 55-17

The Cougars go below the previous two because they actually had hopes of a win, hopes that Stanford tore apart and sent down the storm drains with the rain.  WSU’s supposedly improved defense was overmatched, and the offense did next to nothing.  I do think WSU’s better than last year, but their improvement has been overstated.  A big problem is the quarterback.  Halliday can do some things, but he balances his plusses with terrible mistakes.  Austin Apodaca looked decent when he came on for the injured Halliday, but he’s not going to be a magical cure should the Cougars go to him more in the future.  The Cougars might be on the right track, but Stanford showed it’s going to be a slower journey than Cougar fans had hoped.

10. USC Trojans lost to ASU 62-41

Let’s recap USC’s Saturday/early Sunday. They were demolished by ASU, giving up more points in one game than they had all season up to that point.  They lost multiple defenders to injury, depleting a roster already demolished due to scholarship sanctions.  All-world WR Marquise Lee, suffering a poor season due to inconsistent quarterback play, had a knee injury that looked bad, although it’s unknown how long he’ll be out.  And, to top it off, Lane Kiffin was fired as soon as the plane landed back in LA.  It’s been about as bad a week as USC could have imagined.  A few positives: USC still has plenty of talent, and it might respond to new coach Ed Orgeron.  The running game with Tre Madden and Justin Davis has been a solid plus for an offensive that’s struggled.  And whatever else one wants to say about Kiffin, his playcalling this season has been strange at best.  A new mind running the offense might get better results.  Or it might not.  It’s hard to know what the rest of the season will bring, but this was an inevitable move.  Let’s just say that as a fan of another Pac-12 team, I’d much rather have Lane Kiffin as USC’s coach than whomever they hire to replace him.

-Matthew

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Head of the Pac: Week Two

This is a new thing I’m trying this season.  Last week it was just called Ranking the Pac-12.  Prepare yourself for a slew of bad “Pac” related titles until I find one I like.  Anyway, this is not a power ranking.  It is a subjective ranking of who had the best week the week before.  Teams who didn’t play will be left off unless something significant enough to merit a ranking happened. This week there was one interesting game and lots of blowouts of cupcakes.  The schedule gets a lot better in week 3.  Let’s do this.

1. WSU Cougars beat USC 10-7

I have some misgivings putting the Cougs at the top, because they really didn’t look too great, USC looked horrific, and they’re the Cougars.  Still, WSU got a road win over USC and is leading the Pac-12 North.  I would never have guessed either of those things would have happened this year.  WSU’s defense looked good, but there’s no arguing it was helped significantly by terrible quarterbacking and worse play-calling for USC.  The offense didn’t manage a touchdown, and was maybe worse than USC’s before the big catch and run that put them in field goal position.  The Cougars are certainly better than they were, but I’m unconvinced of how much.  Strangely, it’s the defense that has made the greatest strides under Mike Leach.

2. Oregon Ducks beat Virginia 59-10

The Ducks weren’t perfect, but any complaints are extremely minor when you beat an FBS  team on the road by 49 points.  I doubt Tennessee will fare much better this week.  The Ducks might not be challenged much before coming to Husky Stadium in a few weeks.

3. Utah Utes beat Weber State 70-7

Everything gets a little murky through the vast middle of these rankings.  No one played anyone good and most teams won big.  Extra points and the number three ranking to Utah for doing something I wouldn’t have believed them capable of before the season: putting up 70 points.  That’s a lot, regardless of the opponent.

4. ASU Sun Devils beat Sacramento St. 55-0

I like blowout shutouts.  This is an appropriate score given the teams involved, but it’s always encouraging to see a team nearly perfect on opening night.  This Saturday gets much tougher with Wisconsin coming to town.

5. Stanford Cardinal beat San Jose St. 34-13

Stanford wasn’t incredible, but they handled one of the week’s better opponents easily.  Offense is going to be the question for the Tree.  They’re lacking in established skill players outside of QB Kevin Hogan.  The defense and O Line will have to carry them until they can get clicking.

6. Arizona Wildcats beat UNLV 58-13

Another big win over a weak opponent. The passing game is struggling for the Cats.  Luckily they have All-American Kadeem Carey back from suspension.  Carey is one of the few players to ever be suspended for being an All-American.  The guy’s amazing in so many ways.

7. Oregon State Beavers beat Hawaii 33-14

We have reached the section: “Unimpressive wins against terrible opponents”.  Hawaii is terrible.  Even USC beat them handily.  OSU did too, but it took a while.  The game was in question for the first half before the Beavs pulled away.  They also lost the defense’s captain and maybe best player, LB Mike Doctor. At least he should heal quickly (Doctor joke).  Actually, probably not: 6-8 weeks out. The O Line is beat up as well.  We’ll see if the Beavers can rally, but it’s looking like a potentially long season.  Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks are pretty great though.

8. (Tie) California Golden Bears beat Portland St. 37-30; Colorado Buffaloes beat Central Arkansas 38-24

Many similarities here.  Both teams struggled to beat bad opponents.  Both had some standout offensive performances: Jared Goff went over 450 yards for the second game in a row for Cal, with many of those yards going to WR Bryce Treggs; Buff WR Paul Richardson had his second straight 200 yard receiving game.  That’s never been done before in the Pac-12.  Good stuff.  Unfortunately, the rest of the team isn’t that great, for both squads.

10. USC Trojans lost to WSU 10-7

Oh, USC.  Where to even begin?  This was one of the worst offensive performances I have ever seen.  Both quarterbacks are bad and made worse by Lane Kiffin’s poor handling and ridiculously terrible play-calling.  Maybe my biggest question is why both quarterbacks are so bad.  Both guys were highly rated and possess obvious physical skills.  It’s no surprise if one of them doesn’t develop, but I find it quite strange that both are struggling so greatly.  One more strike against Kiffin.  Unfortunately for him, he’s already wearing a Golden Sombrero.  The defense is good enough to sustain them if they can show even the slightest threat on offense, but that’s looking like a lot to ask for at the moment. That sentence is really depressing if you simultaneously look at their roster.  They have so much talent it’s crazy.  This team is going to have to drastically improve if they want to save Kiffin’s job, let alone get to a bowl game.  I’d put Kiffin at about a 3% chance of returning next year.

-Matthew

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Pac-12 Rankings: Week 1

Hello there, and welcome to the first week of the Good Guys Pac-12 power rankings!  These aren’t really going to be true power rankings though, because everyone does those and they never really change from week to week.  Instead, I’m going to rank teams based on who had the best week.

As such, this will mostly be a ranking of who had the weekend’s best wins to worst losses.  It has no bearing on who is the best overall team.  I repeat, these are not rankings of which team is the best.  Looking ahead, UW is number one on the list, because they demolished a ranked team.  I don’t think they’re the best team in the conference, but they easily had the best win.  All clear?

Stanford and Arizona State didn’t play, so I’m leaving them off.  That will be the case for most teams with byes throughout the year, unless something terrible or great happens to them during practice.  Not likely, but players get hurt during practice or arrested in Eugene.  Things happen.  On to the rankings!

1. Washington Huskies

No team made more of a statement than the Huskies.  Whether or not Boise State is a bit down this year, they were maybe the best opponent of any Pac-12 team this weekend.  The Huskies disposed of them with little mercy.  It was a dominating win for a program that needed one.

2. UCLA Bruins

It gets a little harder to distinguish at this point.  Nevada’s a decent team and UCLA whupped them 58-20.  I’m giving them bonus blowout points to bump them ahead of a couple of other teams.

3. Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado beat Colorado State 41-27.  CSU isn’t very good, but if you remember 2012, the Buffs didn’t win too many games.  One, to be exact.  They also lost to CSU to start last year, so this is a big improvement.  By all accounts, Colorado looked greatly improved, and for a program in need of some hope, this is a big win. Continue reading

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Good Guys Pac-12 Preview

The season is two days away, so let’s fire up a conference preview!  More comprehensive previews abound, so if you want a rundown of UCLA’s secondary, you’ll have to check somewhere else.  For this preview, I’m telling you two things: which player from each team I would want on the Huskies, and how scared I would be if the Dawgs were playing given team tomorrow.  I’ll rate that 1-10, with one being an almost certain win for the Dawgs and 10 an almost certain loss.  I’ll also go through the teams in the divisional order I’d expect them to finish.  So I guess you get three things!  Enjoy.

South Division

1. Arizona State

Player I Want (PIW): This is the easiest choice in the conference, because  DT Will Sutton might be the best player in the conference.  He’s one of the best pass rushing tackles in recent memory, and has a chance to win conference defensive player of the year for the second time in a row.  That hasn’t happened since Mr. Steve Emtman.  Sutton would fit perfectly next to Danny Shelton, transforming the Husky D Line from a bit of a worry to a huge strength.

Scare-o-meter: 7.  ASU took a big step forward last year, and I think they’ll continue to move up.  They have some issues, but they also have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball.  Taylor Kelly was one of the best QBs in the conference last year, and DJ Foster and Marion Grice is the top running back duo in the Pac-12.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish as low as third in the south, but I’m betting they fight off a tough early schedule to make the Pac-12 Championship Game.

2. USC

PIW: Also an easy choice: Marquise Lee, the best receiver in all the land.  Lee brings me to an interesting point in deciding on these players.  The best player on a team isn’t always the guy who would help the Huskies the most.  Defensive lineman Morgan Breslin, for instance, plays at a position of greater need for UW.  In close calls, UW’s need wins out.  Sometimes the greatness of one player far outweighs the utility of another, though.  Anyone who would turn down a chance to see Marquise Lee on their side every Saturday is crazy.

Scare-o-meter: 6.  As usual, USC has as much talent as anyone in the conference.  They have three questions holding them back: 1. Who’s QB? Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are both expected to play on Thursday. 2. Running back is uncertain, with Silas Redd injured.  Lots of talent here though.  3. Lane Kiffin is still coach.  He’s a complete x-factor.  Still, aside from losing Matt Barkley and a few others, this is a roster that was expected to challenge for a national championship last year.  They could be a load if a QB emerges and Kiffin doesn’t sabotage them.

3. UCLA Continue reading

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Around the Pac-12: Week 1

Around the Pac-12 will be a weekly post that reviews and previews each Pac-12 game.  Of course, since this is the first week it will only be previews.  I’m not sure if the Good Guys will be posting their Pac-12 picks every week (hopefully yes), so this post won’t be implying any prediction.  Unless it’s the Ducks because I’ll always imply that I hope the Ducks lose.  I’ll go in alphabetical order, I will show no prejudice except against the teams that are lower in the alphabet.  Also, I’ll be skipping the Huskies because we’ll have plenty of preview on them.

Arizona – Coming Up:  Saturday against Toledo 7:30 PM

This is one of what seems like many cakewalks for Pac-12 teams this week.  Not literal cakewalks.  If two teams faced off in an actual cakewalk, I think it would be hard to pick a favorite for that game.  Anyway, Arizona won the last match-up 41-2.  This is Rich Rodriguez’s first game as head coach of the Wildcats and you may get a feel for what Ka’Deem Carey, Matt Scott and the rest of the Arizona offense may do.  I think they may be a little better than people expect.  The defense could be a different story.

Arizona State – Coming Up:  Thursday against Northern Arizona 7:30 P.M.

Todd Graham makes his Pac-12 coaching debut.  Taylor Kelly makes his quarterback debut.  A number of other players that I don’t really care about make their debut.  Todd Graham, coach of the Sun Devils, made a controversial decision in starting Kelly that I haven’t really heard anyone agree with thus far.  Kelly shouldn’t struggle much against Northern Arizona but it may be something to keep an eye on if you have the game on.

California – Coming Up:  Saturday against Nevada 12:00 P.M.

California starts their season against a team that isn’t a cupcake but is very winnable.  Nevada isn’t the same team that knocked Boise State out of the national championship picture a few years ago but they’re okay.  California, specifically Jeff Tedford, is entering a critical season.  If the Bears have a sub-par season Tedford’s seat will only become hotter.

Colorado – Coming Up:  Saturday against Colorado State 1 P.M.

Colorado struggled last season and doesn’t promise to be much better this year.  They do start the season against a pretty soft slate and this is a good chance to start off the year right.  This is yet another team that’s breaking in a new quarterback in Jordan Webb.  He has transferred from Kansas and was named the starter about a week ago.

Oregon – Coming Up:  Saturday against Arkansas State 7:30 P.M.

Have you looked at Oregon’s non-conference schedule?  What a joke.  Have you looked at Oregon’s uniforms?  What a joke.  Have you looked at Oregon’s fans?  What a joke.  They debut a quarterback, Marcus Marioti, and will probably score a lot of points.

Oregon State – Coming Up:  Saturday against Nicholls State 12 P.M.

Beaver fans are hoping this opener goes better than last years loss to an FCS team.  When I type in Nicholls State, the laptop thinks I’m misspelling Nicholls.  That shows you how strong the quality of opponent this is.  I don’t know anything about Nicholls State and probably never will.  Their mascot is the Colonels.  But, when I typed in ‘Nicholls State mascot’ on Google ‘Nicholls State mascot nazi’ was the fourth thing that came up.  Weird.  Now you know.  Expect the Beavers to Storm on the Colonels parade (their running back’s name is Storm Woods and I will be making puns about this all year)!

Stanford – Coming Up:  Friday against San Jose State 7 P.M.

Nicholls State Mascot….

 

The mighty Spartans of San Jose State face off against the Cardinal.  Hmm, lets see a Spartan facing off against a Tree in this mascot battle.  Yeah, this won’t be tough for San Jose State.  Then again, Stepfan Taylor is really good so maybe this won’t come down to which mascot is tougher.  Oh yeah, Josh Nunes makes his Pac-12 debut as the quarterback of Stanford.  They try to live on after Andrew Luck.  I forgot for a few minutes that I was trying to make this post informative.

UCLA – Coming Up:  Thursday at Rice 4:30 P.M.

I’ve never written the phrase ‘at Rice’ before, unfortunately.  This is the game where I remind everyone that the first game of the season is always a little weird, always a little bit unpredictable.  UCLA is traveling quite a ways with a new coach, a new quarterback and, probably, a little over-confidence.  They should beat the Owls, but do you know when Owls come out?  At night.  Do you know when this game is?  At night.  Coincidence?  We’ll see.

USC – Coming Up:  Saturday against Hawaii 4:30 P.M.

The Rainbow Warriors are an okay team.  They might play in a bowl game, despite once being nicknamed the Rainbow Warriors.  That’s overcoming adversity right there.  But, they will probably be destroyed in this game.  USC could score 100 points and I wouldn’t be surprised.  But, they don’t live in Hawaii so who’s the real winner here?

Utah – Coming Up:  Thursday against Northern Colorado 4:15 P.M.

Utah could be very good.  I’m not a real believer yet but they do have a veteran quarterback (who I am not high on but other people are), a star running back, and maybe the best defense in the league.  That’s a pretty good recipe for winning.  Northern Colorado could be very bad.  But, that’s compared to good college programs.  Compared to middle school teams, Northern Colorado would be like gods.  But then the middle school punter would be like, “Coach, why are we playing a college football team?”  Then, the game would be canceled.

Washington State – Coming Up:  Thursday at BYU 7:30 P.M.

Well, I’ve mostly been stalling until I got a chance to talk about this game.  This is the most intriguing game of the week for me.  BYU isn’t amazing but they’re a very solid team.  The type of team that would have killed the Cougars the last 4 years.  Now, things should be different.  Mike Leach should make a huge impact, Jeff Tuel should throw for bunches of yards, and the Cougs should at least keep the game close.  If they don’t, then maybe all of positive vibes coming out of Pullman won’t be around much longer.  Even if the game isn’t close, expect a lot of points on Thursday and for a fun game.  That’s what Mike Leach brings to the table.

Thanks for reading!

Andrew

 

 

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Hello Dawg Fans

To anyone still reading this nearly dormant blog, welcome to the 2011 season of college football and the first season for the new Pac-12 Conference.  This is a favorite time of year for the Good Guys, so you should start to see a lot more posts here.  Personally, I am finally done with the graduate school that’s kept me from posting for the past 8 months or so, and I’m looking forward to getting back to writing.

The Pac-12 season kicks off for everyone this week, with Arizona State and Utah both kicking off tomorrow and everyone else starting the season on Saturday.  The only real attention grabbers for the weekend are UCLA at Houston and the battle of off-season troublemakers between Oregon and LSU.  Everyone else plays an FCS or comparable team.  Not to say that all of the teams have a definite win, but even the Cougars should have a pretty easy go of it this week.

Reading through the multitude of Pac-12 previews over the last few weeks, the conference seems unsure, at least after Oregon and Stanford at the top.  Oregon, despite the offseason drama, is still as fast as anyone and a threat to return to the BCS championship.  Stanford has a few more questions after losing Jim Harbaugh and several receivers, but they still have Andrew Luck and as much or more talent as anyone else in the conference.  Expect these two to stay at the top of the league, perhaps meeting as undefeated teams later in the season. Unfortunately, both play in the new North division with the Huskies, meaning that only one of them can play in the new Pac-12 Championship.  Of course, if the Huskies want to play in it instead, they’ll probably have to beat at least one of these teams and win just about everything else.  More on them in a bit.

After those two, the pecking order is anything but clear.  In the south, there is talent with question marks.  ASU looked like the top dog, but they’ve suffered some major injury losses, and the Sun Devils haven’t met expectations since Jake the Snake was there, as far as I can remember.  USC still has excellent talent, but they’re banned from the postseason.  Utah is always good, but how they’ll transition to the Pac-12 is a big question.  Arizona could put up crazy passing numbers if they’re o-line holds up.  Even UCLA and Colorado seem like they could surprise, although each have big questions or weaknesses.  I could truly see just about any order of finish in the south, but none of these teams seem truly dominant.

There is similar uncertainty after Stanford and Oregon in the north.  California might have the conference’s top defense to go with some weapons on offense.  If new quarterback Zach Maynard can consistently get the ball to Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones and Isi Sofele provides a reasonable facsimile of Shane Vereen, they could easily surprise and make a bowl.  It’s hard to imagine Oregon State struggling for a full year, but the offseason has not been kind to them.  They lost Jacquizz Rodgers somewhat surprisingly to the NFL and will start the year with at least four starters out due to injury.  James Rodgers is among those who might return later in the year, so it’s quite possible this will be another season where the Beavers play good football by November.  They have questions on both lines even before the injuries, however, so I have my doubts.  Cougar fans have been talking for months about this being their season to break out.  Their schedule starts easy, and if they can beat San Diego State to go 3-0, they might have something this year.  WSU is definitely better than they have been, but I’m betting talk of a bowl game will prove to be wishful thinking.

That leaves us with the University of Washington.  They’re being picked anywhere from 3rd to 5th in the north, with projections of 6-8 wins.  That seems likely, with a couple of significant injuries the only real plausible path to fewer than 5 wins.  It’s become difficult to expect much out of the Huskies, but this might be the year that starts to change.  I remember a comment on a chat board somewhere saying that the Dawgs won’t really return to dominance until they have Pac-12 starter level players who are unable to get onto the field.  The Huskies are still too young for that to really be the case this year, but they’re getting closer.  Their talent level and depth is significantly better than it has been in years.  They have difference-makers at every position.  The question now is whether all of these players are actually ready to make a difference.  The offensive line needs to translate their talent into consistent performance.  The young linebackers on either side of Cort Dennison will have to grow up and make plays in a hurry.   Everyone else just needs to show consistency.  There is plenty of talent, but in past years it hasn’t always produced results.

After that, it comes down largely to one player: Keith Price.  If the rest of the team plays up to its talent-level, he only needs to be okay.  Manage the game, make most of his open passes, not do anything crazy and the team should be fine.  I think he can do that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does more.  Jake Locker was one of my favorite Huskies of all time, but realistically, he wasn’t that great last year.  Price should be able to produce similar, if not better, passing numbers.  However, like many great quarterbacks, Jake had the ability to get better and make plays when he needed to.  There’s no way to know if Price can consistently do that yet.  Probably, he can’t, but luckily there are plenty of others on the team who might be able to fill that void.

I don’t know what the actual over/under line is on regular season Husky wins.  If I had to guess, I would set it at 6 1/2.  I’ve talked myself into expecting 7-5 or 8-4 before a bowl game, and if everything broke right I could see even better than that.  It’s been 11 years since everything broke right for the Huskies.  I’d say they’re due.

-Matthew

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