Saturday, September 22, 2007

Saturday live blog, Vol. 2

It was so much fun the first time that I'm reviving it. A shamelessly partisan Alabama fan with a television full of college football and an Internet connection? Maybe some good can come of this. Updates will come more or less continually throughout the day.

1:04 a.m. The only game that hasn't gone final is in Hawaii, and considering it involves an unbeaten I-A team and something called "Charleston Southern," I'm not too worried about that.

I'm calling it a night. Thanks for reading, and Roll Tide.

12:49 a.m. Washington, down 10 with four and a half minutes left, is trying for a furious comeback in Pasadena. You usually need to recover an onside kick for that, though, which seems to be a problem. UCLA will win at home, proving once again that the Notre Dame fan base was right all along about Tyrone Willingham, or something, because the Irish clearly wouldn't get run out of the stadium against the Bruins this year. So there.

12:25 a.m. Utah has followed its cold-hearted dismemberment of UCLA by getting trounced 27-0 at UNLV. That brings this year's record to 1-3. Sorry, Bruins: Only you get to lose to Utes.

12:23 a.m. Yeah, that 100-yard pick-six by Wake should be the game changing performance this week. The LSU fake field goal also would be acceptable, but only because it rocked.

12:10 a.m. Wake Forest had the best win of the day. Going from a yard away from falling down 28 against a conference rival to winning in overtime? That's the kind of game that saves seasons.

12:03 a.m. The GameDay folks remind everyone that Notre Dame is still really, really bad. Question: Could an 0-8 "start" really be considered a start in a season that consists of only 12 games? That'd be like saying President Bush really got off on the wrong foot from 2001 to 2007, but now his tenure has really begun.

11:59 p.m. A pick-six puts UCLA up by two TDs at the Rose Bowl. Maybe now you'll forget that the state of Utah even exists, huh?

11:57 p.m. A fellow Tide fan speculates that Alabama and Arkansas took so much out of each other last week that their losses this week were inevitable. I see some validity to that.

11:53 p.m. More Holtz: "You've gotta stop tackling like you're Venus de Milo and you don't have any arms." Age brings wisdom.

11:48 p.m. Lou Holtz is doing quadratic equations, or rambling about crazy people, or maybe having a seizure. If someone in Bristol is reading this, please give Sweet Lou a sizable raise and a guaranteed lifetime contract. I need this entertainment on my TV.

11:46 p.m. Louisville makes me feel better, because Alabama isn't Louisville. My team did not, in fact, lose to a bottom-feeder.

11:43 p.m. Hey, live football is still available. Washington and UCLA are duking it out in the middle of the night for the right to finish in the middle of the Pac-10 standings. Someone notify the Las Vegas Bowl representative ASAP.

11:41 p.m. Rece Davis restores the happiness with a joke about Les Miles' tight-fitting hat. Yes, you had to be there.

11:35 p.m. Endless talk about the Alabama game. I zoned out for a while there, trying to ignore the visiting fans' celebration.

11:30 p.m. College Football Final is here. They open with Arkansas-Kentucky. It's only a matter of time until Alabama.

11:25 p.m. Addendum to an observation from earlier today: Penn State is now in fourth place in the Southern Conference, thanks to Wofford's stirring victory over Appalachian State.

11:11 p.m. Further reflection confirms that this wasn't a bad loss for Alabama. Georgia had better talent and set the tone for much of the game, but the Crimson Tide still conjured the heart to mount a comeback and force overtime when it had no business doing so. Alabama started things very slowly, probably due to a hangover from last week, but the team only had one turnover and never gave up, even down 10 in the fourth quarter. Nick Saban is squeezing all he can out of the talent he has on hand, and that's all you can ask. There's no shame in losing a nail-biter to Georgia.

10:36 p.m. Why exactly is Kirk Ferentz getting paid $2.8 million a year? I'd be perfectly willing to rack up mediocre seasons and inexplicable losses to Iowa State for a tenth of the price.

10:32 p.m. Memo to Wisconsin fans: A stadium full of football fans shouldn't be singing "Build Me Up Buttercup" with two minutes left in a tight conference game. That's just weird.

10:28 p.m. Time to seek relief in football in which I have no emotional investment whatsoever. Wisconsin is still burnishing those Top 10 credentials -- a near-miss against UNLV, a shootout with The Citadel -- by taking a four-point lead at home late in the fourth quarter against a team that just lost to Iowa State. Also, the unstoppable Oregon Ducks now trail Stanford. Yay, I guess.

10:21 p.m. And that does it. Georgia hits a mirror image of the South Florida touchdown that beat Auburn two weeks ago on the first play from scrimmage in OT. Dawgs, 26-23. That hurts, even if Georgia by all rights should have won in regulation.

10:20 p.m. Alabama has its first lead of the night, under the most uncomfortable circumstances imaginable. Tide, 23-20.

10:17 p.m. Alabama's up first, and the Tide needs a touchdown. If this becomes a kicking contest, Alabama can't keep up.

10:13 p.m. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! Georgia's Kicker of Doom misses from 47 yards. Overtime. Hope remains.

10:11 p.m. Don't end like this. I'll be sick if it ends like this.

10:04 p.m. Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Wilson takes it in himself for the second time tonight, and we're tied at 20.

9:55 p.m. YES! YES! YES! YES! Huge completion inside Georgia territory. Come on, guys. Do this thing.

9:51 p.m. All-world stand from the Alabama defense. Plenty of time and a full complement of timeouts for John Parker Wilson's guys to drive the length of the field. Let's see who wants it more.

9:45 p.m. Georgia's defense still being what it is, Alabama settles for the chip-shot field goal. 20-13, UGA. Six and a half minutes left. This can still happen, however improbable it seems.

9:42 p.m. Reversed. Finally. Punch it in, guys. We need this TD.

9:39 p.m. That is a catch by D.J. Hall. That is the clearest catch that there ever was. This call must be reversed.

9:37 p.m. A good drive almost ground to a halt thanks to a comedy of errors. Thank you, obvious pass interference call, for keeping my Crimson Tide alive.

9:33 p.m. First downs. As in more than one of them. Baby steps.

9:30 p.m. Keith Brown snares a big-time open-field catch to put a little life back in the stadium. It's not over quite yet.

9:24 p.m. The Alabama defense stiffens to hold Georgia to a field goal try. The Kicker of Doom puts it through. 20-10, Dawgs. The way this game has gone, that may be an insurmountable lead. Still lots of time left if the Tide wants to start doing something, though.

9:18 p.m. Georgia shouldn't keep getting first downs on second efforts, but it does. The Bulldogs just want it more. Maybe this will turn around in the fourth quarter, but I have my doubts.

9:11 p.m. Alabama should have smothered that punt. Then again, Georgia should be up by 20, too, so pick your battles, I guess.

9:08 p.m. Sometimes dropped passes and holding penalties are your only friends. Just be glad you have friends.

9:05 p.m. Alabama can't keep Georgia's defensive linemen out of the backfield, and it can't get receivers open down field. These things pose certain problems when your goal is to score points.

9 p.m. Moreno bulldozes into the end zone to give Georgia a 17-10 lead. Not good. Not good at all.

8:58 p.m. The Alabama secondary is being shredded piecemeal during a long drive. This would be considered a problem.

8:50 p.m. Touchdown, Alabama! John Parker Wilson punches it in, and Leigh Tiffin ties it with the PAT. That's what we needed.

8:46 p.m. Terry Grant! Terry Grant! Terry Grant! Run, Terry!

8:45 p.m. Rashad Johnson and Prince Hall team up to force a Stafford pick. Alabama has to turn this into points.

8:42 p.m. Oh, it is? Well, all right then. Here's another punt.

8:40 p.m. Just a first down or two, guys. Just enough to give the defense a breather. That's not too much to ask, is it?

8:37 p.m. Brandon Coutu, the Kicker of Doom, actually misses a field goal. Alabama should be down by about 20 points by now, but the margin is still only seven. I'll not complain a bit.

8:36 p.m. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that stand, guys.

8:35 p.m. Well, damn. There goes that.

8:34 p.m. Alabama gets the ball to start the second half. This desperately needs to be a sustained drive.

8:31 p.m. Kentucky has finished off Arkansas. Defense may win championships, but offense certainly can win a lot of games.

8:26 p.m. Brian Brohm threw for 555 yards today for Louisville, and he has no chance at the Heisman. That's what two losses in September will do for you. Don't feel too bad for him, though; the NFL money is still going to spend quite nicely.

8:20 p.m. Iowa State is following up its inspiring upset of Iowa -- its seventh win over the Hawkeyes in 10 years -- by falling behind a winless MAC team. The Big 12 Network: Demand it!

8:16 p.m. Emerging briefly from my crimson-clad bunker, I find Kentucky down two and driving near midfield with five minutes left. Arkansas is at home and probably needs this one more, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

8:12 p.m. Two overthrown touchdown passes in the last few minutes. Leigh Tiffin converts a badly needed field goal from 40 yards away to put the halftime score at 10-3. Alabama is so very, very lucky to be down only seven. Aside from that last drive, it's been complete domination by the Bulldogs thus far.

8:08 p.m. John Parker Wilson almost got beheaded. Scary sight. Good job of working the sidelines at the end of the half.

8 p.m. Arkansas clings to an eight-point lead over Kentucky. Auburn has clawed its way back in front of New Mexico State. And Alabama's offense still hasn't registered any vital signs. Maybe the next hour will be better. How about another punt?

7:58 p.m. Look, I know Todd Blackledge was just in Tuscaloosa last week. But I promise there's more than one place to eat in that town. You don't have to limit yourself to the Quad.

7:55 p.m. Another flailing drive full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. This is getting old. Time for another defensive stop.

7:49 p.m. Brandon Coutu drills a field goal that would have been good from Bessemer. 10-0, Georgia. The Tide was lucky to hold them out of the end zone. Now the offense has to get going.

7:47 p.m. Keep imploding with penalties, Dawgs. Yes, like that.

7:44 p.m. Matthew Stafford has turned into Peyton Manning in his Super Bowl prime. Georgia can't do anything wrong right now.

7:37 p.m. Well, that didn't turn out like it should have. Georgia takes over at its 30 after John Parker Wilson is unable to produce an otherwise absent receiver out of whole cloth.

7:32 p.m. D.J. Hall corrects that "no passing game" problem. Now it's just a matter of keeping it going.

7:30 p.m. Alabama has precisely no passing game right now. And that makes it tough to have a running game.

7:28 p.m. They made the stop. That was crucial. Good field position after the near-block of the Georgia punt.

7:24 p.m. Third and 11 coming up for the Bulldogs when we return for the second quarter. Please make the stop here, guys.

7:21 p.m. As I feared, Alabama still doesn't look like it's over that Arkansas game. Georgia is hungry for this one.

7:14 p.m. So, um, Auburn is losing. Again. To New Mexico State. Whatever. More important business is at hand, such as figuring out that stifling Georgia defense.

7:12 p.m. And there's that three-and-out the Tide didn't need.

7:09 p.m. INT! INT! INT! There's that break the Tide needed.

7:08 p.m. Knowshon Moreno gets swarmed under. Alabama needs more of that. The rain is really coming down now.

7:01 p.m. Great defensive schemes by Georgia. Here's the punt. This is the first slow start of the year. Alabama somehow has to grab the momentum back or it could get ugly.

6:59 p.m. Terry Grant is a running back of some renown and considerable talent. Perhaps you've noticed.

6:55 p.m. Alabama's defense didn't know what in the hell was happening there. As is often the case, that leads to a touchdown. A ludicrously easy opening drive gives Georgia a 7-0 lead.

6:53 p.m. No, sir, I don't like this. I don't like this at all.

6:51 p.m. Matthew Stafford is doing a good job of establishing the passing game. Great run by Sean Bailey to get the first down.

6:47 p.m. Kickoff. Georgia gets the ball first. Get loud, everyone.

6:45 p.m. I wish this song ESPN is foisting upon me would go away. I can watch football without 50 Cent involved, I promise.

6:44 p.m. Bryant-Denny is rocking. The Crimson Tide has taken the field. It's Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. It's great to be alive.

6:40 p.m. Did you know Connecticut is still undefeated? Neither did I. Do you actually care? Same here.

6:30 p.m. One reason Darren McFadden might not snag the Heisman: He plays for the most erratic team in the country. Arkansas struggled for three quarters against Troy, then got buried by Alabama only to bounce back sky-high only to crash hard back to earth. Tonight, the Razorbacks were on their way to destruction of Kentucky before suddenly handing the Wildcats a game-saving fumble return for a touchdown. In the immortal words of the football masters at Every Day Should Be Saturday, "Avoid depending on [Arkansas] to even exist."

6:12 p.m. Darren McFadden just obliterated the Kentucky defense. That wasn't even fair. He's so clearly better than any other player on the field that it isn't even funny. Yet something tells me the Heisman still will go to the latest in a line of interchangeable quarterbacks for some overhyped top-five team that will get exposed in an embarrassing bowl game misadventure.

6:03 p.m. LSU may be punished in the polls for South Carolina's late rally. It shouldn't be. The Gamecocks are better than anyone USC has played thus far. Not that things like that matter.

5:56 p.m. Is it wrong that I really wanted to see the end of the Ohio-Wyoming game? Yeah, you're right, it is. My apologies.

5:47 p.m. Lloyd Carr likes having work after all. Michigan once again makes Penn State call it daddy, dropping the Nittany Lions to third place in the Southern Conference standings.

5:43 p.m. A field goal, Steve? After all that work? A field goal to cut it to 18 in the fourth? Please, think about the click-clack.

5:38 p.m. Number of Appalachian State touchdowns in the Big House: Four. Number of Penn State touchdowns in the Big House: Zero. I'm not saying, but I'm just saying.

5:33 p.m. I missed that LSU fake field goal flip pass that sent it to 21-7 when it happened, but I just caught it on replay. Simply a beautiful piece of trickeration. This is a scarily good team.

5:22 p.m. I'm really tired of hearing about Gary Danielson's jacket. This is the third time, and I've only watched intermittently.

5:21 p.m. Arkansas has jumped all over Kentucky early. This could bode well for Alabama's chances tonight.

5:18 p.m. Mike Hart is trying to will Michigan single-handedly to victory. And it's working. Penn State's down 14-6 midway through the fourth. Someone should break the news to Beano Cook.

5:08 p.m. We're a little under two hours away from kickoff in Tuscaloosa, and I don't have a very good feeling about this one. Too many teams have slumped today after emotionally draining games, and no game last week was more emotional than the Crimson Tide's roller-coaster win over Arkansas. And that's not to mention that Georgia's defense easily is better than any that Alabama has seen thus far. With that said, I've learned not to doubt the Saban-era Tide until the clock reads triple zeros.

5:01 p.m. Penn State has to get over that mental block against Michigan if it ever hopes to rejoin college football's elite year in and year out. JoePa's crew stalls out in the red zone and hits another field goal to make it 7-6, Wolverines. Appalachian State hasn't lost nine in a row to Michigan. Why should Penn State?

4:54 p.m. Jacob Hester plows into the end zone. 28-7, LSU. This team should frighten any reasonable observer.

4:45 p.m. Steve Spurrier really shouldn't have gone for it on fourth down there. The literal floodgates are already open. Now the metaphorical ones are about to be, too.

4:38 p.m. LSU is slowly grinding down South Carolina in a rainstorm. I still think this is the nation's No. 1 team, especially now that USC's win at Nebraska looks nowhere near as impressive as it did before a MAC team almost did the same thing today.

4:26 p.m. Once you get beyond Oklahoma and Texas, the Big 12 just isn't very good. A Miami team annihilated in Norman turned around and destroyed Texas A&M on Thursday. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State got firebombed in Troy (no offense to Troy, but you know, Sun Belt) but is in a shootout with perennially good-
but-not-great Texas Tech. And you can't forget that Ball State problem for Nebraska and that "losing to a I-AA team" problem for Iowa State. Does anyone actually want to try to keep up with the Longhorns and Sooners anymore? Kansas? Missouri? Bueller?

4:05 p.m. Around the Big Ten today: Ohio State is introducing Northwestern to ruthless aggression to the tune of 45-0 before the half. Michigan is still very much in Penn State's head, despite that pick to end the half. Michigan State is letting Notre Dame stay in it. And Illinois somehow has managed to open 3-1, perhaps because its last three games have been against Western Illinois, Syracuse, and Indiana. The Big Ten Network: Order now!

3:59 p.m. The Tigers didn't capitalize on that fumble, but that beautiful circus interception I just saw may be a different matter.

3:40 p.m. LSU snags a fumble as the rain pours down. It begins.

3:34 p.m. Navy drills a dead-center perfect field goal with no time left to beat Duke at home. That'll be 46 very excited push-
ups, and one more reminder that a win is a win.

3:33 p.m. LSU can beat you with the pass, too. Matt Flynn puts the Tigers up 14-7. The Gamecocks haven't surrendered yet, but it still feels like LSU is about to break the game open.

3:28 p.m. A clutch interception and a huge QB draw have Navy near field goal range with 21 seconds left. Come on, guys.

3:25 p.m. Navy has come back to tie Duke at 43. Blue Devils ball. Ninety seconds left. You better believe I'm watching this.

3:17 p.m. LSU doesn't like to trail, so it decides it won't. Trindon Holliday rumbles untouched through a manhandled South Carolina defensive line to tie the game at 7-7.

3:10 p.m. Huge news in Baton Rouge: The Ol' Ball Coach has taken an early lead on LSU. Death Valley is deafeningly quiet. In far less important news, Notre Dame finally has an offensive touchdown, and it didn't even take 13 full quarters to do it. It's probably still somehow Tyrone Willingham's fault, though, right?

3:04 p.m. Early on, Michigan is handling undefeated Big Ten favorite Penn State pretty easily. Michigan got schooled by a I-AA team three weeks ago. This suggests uncomfortable things about the state of Big Ten football.

2:55 p.m. Nebraska has notched a late touchdown and survived a wide-left field goal attempt to capture a one-point thriller in Lincoln. Remember, though: A win is a win. Even when it's against David Letterman University.

2:50 p.m. Ole Miss fails to convert on the most obvious fake punt in this century. Florida is three minutes away from a tough win over a team that Vandy handled last week. No weeks off in the SEC.

2:46 p.m. Syracuse has finished off Louisville. Could be a long season along the banks of the Ohio River if they don't right the ship in a hurry, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

2:40 p.m. What is it about the Gators when they play mediocre teams in the state of Mississippi? Ole Miss holds Florida to a field goal to make it 30-24 with five minutes to go.

2:32 p.m. Allow me to take a moment, belated though it may be, to share my condolences with the folks in College Station after yet another spectacular wipeout against a big-name opponent Thursday night. Still want to gloat about your shiny new coach?

2:27 p.m. Courageous effort by Army, which is hanging tight with Boston College in the third quarter. The Cadets seem to want it more than the Eagles, but I'm not sure that'll be enough.

2:14 p.m. Ole Miss has cut the lead to three. I am sorry for underestimating you, The Orgeron. Please spare the innocent ones. They deserve not your fearsome wrath.

2:12 p.m. David Letterman University won in Annapolis last week and leads by 10 at Nebraska in the fourth quarter. This leads to the inevitable question: Just how good is Miami of Ohio?

2:09 p.m. Touchdown, Virginia. That's about right. Cavs, 28-23.

2:08 p.m. Georgia Tech has rebounded to grab a two-point lead in Charlottesville. And as soon as I type those words, the Yellow Jackets muff a punt and give it back to the Cavaliers in excellent field position. I should know better than to compliment them.

1:57 p.m. The Orgeron is being mastered by an even more indomitable SEC force: The Tebow. It's 27-9, and the margin is probably going to grow from there. Nice job by Florida to ride out the kind of emotional high that can only come from brutally and thoroughly abusing the hated Tennessee Volunteers last week.

1:50 p.m. ESPN2 has euthanized the broadcast of Rich Rod's massacre of ECU and replaced it with Syracuse's Last Stand. The Orange -- not the Orangemen, they'll have you know -- are up 10 and have the ball near midfield early in the fourth. Fairly or not, this would end the "Brian Brohm for Heisman" talk once and for all.

1:42 p.m. OK, maybe it's not that bad for Navy to lose to Ball State after all. The Cardinals from David Letterman University lead at Nebraska midway through the third quarter. An 11-point halftime deficit to Duke, however, is still as bad as it seems.

1:33 p.m. This is the worst Notre Dame team in modern history. It hasn't even scored an offensive touchdown yet, three games into the season. By any and all objective measures, it should be easy pickings for Navy finally to break that 43-game losing streak against an abysmal Fighting Irish squad. So of course this year's Midshipmen would lose to Ball State last week and trail Duke at home just before halftime this week. It's just not fair.

1:25 p.m. And we're back. Louisville is still turning in the epic choke job of the day. Elsewhere in the Big East, South Florida and West Virginia are in cruise control. Looks like those two will pair up with Rutgers to decide that conference.

12:45 p.m. No finer time for lunch than now, before all of the SEC action cranks up in earnest. Back in a bit.

12:37 p.m. Rece Davis drops a "Tell 'em about it, Jo Jo!" reference to The Orgeron, revealing once again why all other ESPN talking heads must seek shelter in the shadow of his greatness.

12:35 p.m. Letdown alert continues in the early games. Louisville has gone to the locker room down 21-7. Georgia Tech trails 21-14. Florida clings to a one-point lead in Oxford. And Nebraska is knotted up at 7-7 with Ball State.

12:23 p.m. Syracuse leads 21-7. The Orange already have scored more points in the first half against Louisville than they have in any of their first three games. Papa John can't like this.

12:21 p.m. Ole Miss boldly kicks another field goal. Unfortunately for them, Florida opted to score the touchdown earlier. Gators, 7-6. Someone give The Orgeron another Red Bull.

12:19 p.m. Forfeit your shot at a national title with blown pass coverage against your in-state rival last week? Why not follow it up by losing at home to the worst Syracuse team in decades, if not ever? Louisville, down 14-7 late in the second quarter, looks like it's trying to do just that.

11:54 a.m. Ole Miss mounts a good drive to the red zone against Florida, then promptly remembers that it's Ole Miss and kicks a field goal. The Orgeron has a home lead, which means no throats will be torn out in northern Mississippi. For now.

11:50 a.m. Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, and USC have emerged, in various orders, as everyone's top four teams. West Virginia looks like it wants to become the fifth. Rich Rod's crew is up 17-0 on an East Carolina team that's winless but much better than you think.

11:44 a.m. Make that 21-7 for Virginia. Guess the Yellow Jackets aren't back from that watery grave where BC sent them last week.

11:39 a.m. Georgia Tech and Virginia are doing battle. Which team will revert to primal self first? Which coach will manage to wring the most mediocrity out of yet another disappointing and agonizing season? Early, the Cavaliers are up, 14-7.

11:30 a.m. Football has begun, but it's a little tough to stay focused on it without any personal rooting interest. South Florida is showing precisely no signs of a post-bye letdown after the Auburn win, which has lost a bit of its luster thanks to that Crooming at Jordan-Hare Stadium last week.

11:15 a.m. College GameDay was in Tuscaloosa this morning for the first time since... 2005. It wasn't that long ago, but it seems like forever. Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit split on the main event, with the old QB from The Ohio State University picking the Georgia "upset" (not sure I'd use that word) and Corso clumsily donning an elephant head. Among the best crowd signs: "Brandon Cox for Heisman" and "Rushing Yards: N.D.: -14, Me: 0."


Anonymous Alex said...

Good summary of the day! Fun to go back through the day and see one man's reflections...

2:59 AM  
Blogger King Cockfight said...

Rarely does the school formerly known Livingston State have a better year than Notre Dame.

There's just something about this place.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Alex, thanks for reading. Any suggestions if I do another one?

KC, the Fighting Irish don't play night games in Sumter County for a reason.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Hmm...I think you're at your strongest when you pull in wry political humor alongside your football commentary. Those tended to come later at night...were you looking to pull in things that you hadn't said already? Had you had a few drinks? Whatever it was, it worked.

Other than that...well, you're an Alabama fan, so I'd change that. Nick Saban is so 2003. Consider rooting for an ascendant team like LSU. (sorry, couldn't help it...I'm a BR native living in California...)

You should definitely do another when you've got's nice to know I'm not the only one spending the entire day watching college football.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Political humor? Here? I think I can manage that.

LSU is outstanding this year. It looks like Florida and maybe USC are the only things that possibly could keep the Tigers away from the promised land.

Thanks for reading, Alex.

12:00 PM  

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