Category Archives: Penn State

What R we doing?

It certainly wasn’t playing football on Saturday afternoon.  Maybe playing BAD football.  But that was supposed to be Rutgers’ job.

We often play down to the level of our competition, but that was ridiculous!

We looked like a pro football team that has already clinched the play-offs and sat their starters out for the last game so as not to injure any one in a meaningless game before the all important play-off games begin.

But we hadn’t clinched anything.  With a Rose Bowl bid possibly on the line, we played like we didn’t care.  As impressed as I was with the gutsy performance of this team a week ago–hanging in there with Suckeyes to the bitter end, I was just as unimpressed by any performance in any category by this team on Saturday.  We didn’t just mail it in.  We sent smoke signals or Morse code.

That was the most boring, yet annoyingly nerve wracking game I have ever sat through in Beaver Stadium.

7-3 at the half?  Are you kidding me?  You are one play away from being beaten by Rutgers.  2-9 and NO Big Ten wins Rutgers!


Granted, it was not an exciting prospect on paper.  41 point favorites.  No Big Ten Title to play for.  No real rival on rivalry weekend.  The stadium was sparse–the students went home from break, and we couldn’t even complete the “S” in the “S zone” until late in the second quarter.  The fan enthusiasm–myself included–was close to zero.  It was cold but not the coldest, and it was mostly tolerable.  Hunting season opened early.  More fans gone.

And even if we were playing to eke out a win without injuring anyone, we failed.  Wade and Reid both went down on the same play.  Reid never returned.

I know Rutgers was only playing for pride, but daggummit, they played harder than we did.  Was Franklin hoping to drop out of the Top 10 and maybe get a lesser bowl opponent to pad his career stats?

The problem with the one game one week attitude–that is, there is a one game season each week and you try to go 1-0 that week–is that when you ultimately don’t go 1-0, the season goes down the toilet bowl, instead of the Rose Bowl.  None of the performances since the Minnesota loss have been our best possible efforts–coaching or executing on both sides of the ball.

And I know Clifford was injured.  That did make an impact.  Let’s face it.  Levis is the better running QB, but he can’t throw.  We had no deep threat whatsoever.

Rutgers is 105th in rushing defense.  Yet Journey Brown managed a mere 103 yards on sixteen carries, eclipsed by the QB Levis’s 108 on 17 carries.  Mostly in the second half.  The Scarlet Knights are slightly better in pass defense, tied for 77th in passing yards allowed (232.5 per game) but we could only manage 81 yards passing for the game.  Want something more funny?  The team Rutgers is tied with for passing yards allowed is . . .  wait for it . . . it’s coming . . . Penn State!

The Altoona Mirror proclaimed “A win is still a win” in it’s Sunday sports headline.  That’s true for sure.  A loss would have been immeasurably worse.  But this is not the way to end one’s regular season and send off the seniors.  (See more below.)


Seriously?  This was Rutgers.  2-9.  No conference wins.  Yet they won time of possession, total yards and out gained us in the air 199-81!  We were 3 of 10 on third downs.  Rutgers had 2 more first downs than we did.  Scoreboard, baby.  27-6.  Still not sure how we managed that and I was there!


The Drum Major stuck both flips.

The crowd attendance is listed at 98,895.  If there were that many bodies in the stadium, they must have been huddled by the heaters in the bathrooms.  There were not that many people in the stands.

Penn State leads the series 28-2 all-time.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knight prowled the sideline below us, brandishing a sword.  How did he get that in past security?  Doesn’t exactly make me feel safe!


So Wisconsin and the $uckeyes will square off for the Big Ten Title.  This will be a rematch, as Ohio $tate already beat the badgers 38-7.  I don’t expect the badgers to keep this close, even on a neutral field.

MEANWHILE, IN  . . . .

Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL . . . the Tide lost to the Tigers after being flagged for too many men on the field.  The penalty allowed Auburn to keep possession and run out the clock.  I wonder if Bama fans are fickle like PSU fans and are calling for Saban to move on?  I wonder if there’s a special teams coach looking for a job today?

Somewhere in Minnesota . . . the Gophers controlled their destiny and that destiny was a losing one.  They got beaten by the badgers 38-17, sending Wisconsin to face the $uckeyes.  You caught us off guard you goofy little gophers.  Shame on us.


There will be a bowl game.  Time and place and opponent to be determined.

But I want to take this moment to chastise the Big Ten and their scheduling.  At one time, Penn State played Pitt, often on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and never had trouble filling their stadium for that game.  It was a rivalry.

The Big Ten has tried to fabricate some rivalries for PSU–most notably the MSU-PSU Land Grant Trophy game, but let’s face it, that was never a rivalry like Pitt was.  I think a couple of years we even finished with Nebraska, which was a rivalry back in the eighties when Paterno and Osborne squared off on the sidelines.  That would have been a better draw than Rutgers.  Rutgers wasn’t ever a rivalry and never will be.

For all that Penn State has done for the Big Ten (I’m sorry, but we elevated this conference from a stodgy old leather helmet era and thanks to Paterno this conference pioneered the now ubiquitous instant reply for officiating)–they can argue all they want, but the Ohio State fans storming the field after beating us suggests we are more of a rival than they are willing to admit–we deserve a better end game than Rutgers.

I understand you have that whole Michigan-Ohio State think shoved up your butts.  I’m okay with that.  Maybe Michigan will even win a game again someday.  But throw us a bone.  Michigan State would have been better than Rutgers.  Give us Nebraska to close out the season.    No one cared about the game Saturday including the fans that actually did show up.  It was a snooze fest from the start, and we are just lucky that the team sort of woke up in the second half.

And maybe take out one of the two bye weeks and end the season before the last day of November when the students are still in class.  Just thinking outside the box here.

And if you are wondering, we finish with Rutgers the next three years and Maryland in 2023.  Not until 2024 do we finish with Michigan State again.


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Well That Suck-eyed

Once again, the game is a distant memory and another game is coming up, and I still have not reported in.  Shame on me!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

A small part of me feared that Ohio State really was a top ranked team and would dispatch us like an annoying insect, easily covering the almost 20 point spread and then some.  They did not blow us out of the water.  That’s good.  I’m particularly proud that we hung in there and fought to the bitter end and were actually within 4 points of the upset of the year going into the fourth quarter.  WITH OUR BACK-UP QUARTERBACK!

But . . . there was also a part of me that thought perhaps the Buckeye$ were a bit over-rated, hadn’t played anyone as good as us, and we were going to manage to pull out a win somehow.  We did not.  That’s bad.  Too bad.

The Ugly?  Despite still being ranked 10th in the College Football Playoff rankings, there is almost no mathematical probability of the Lions actually getting to play in that play-off.  Is next year our year?  I always hate that kind of logic/hope.  I’d rather play now.  Too much can happen between now and then.  We had a chance THIS year, but couldn’t make the plays when we needed to make them.  Well, there’s always next year!

Could we hold our own against Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, or Oklahoma????  We didn’t do a bad job against the Buckeye$.  Consider this:  Ohio $tate was defeating teams by an average margin of victory of 41.7 points!  They beat us by 11.  In all their previous games, the closest margin of victory was against MSU–24 points.  We are the closest that Ohio $tate has come to losing all season.  WITH OUR BACK-UP QUARTERBACK!

And let’s face it.  They are as advertised.  Scary good at just about every position.   (The best team money can buy LOL! )


Make no mistake of it.  There are precious few stats that favored the Nittany Lions.  One in particular, though, kind of surprised me.  Although he had 25 more carries than Journey Brown, J.K. Dobbins only averaged 4.4 yards per carry, while Brown averaged 5.8.  Maybe we should have tried to run more?


Is there a luckier man on this planet than Ryan Day?  Urban Meyer retires amidst turmoil and this guy picks up a team that is almost incapable of losing.  I will be surprised if he doesn’t go undefeated in his first season as head coach.  Hell, I could probably be undefeated right now if I were the head coach of that team!


Yea.  Whatever.  We’re not in it.  Ohio State will probably win it.  Move along.


So we have a season where we are now waiting to see how good a bowl game we can get, but there is still one game left to play.


I’m sorry, but this isn’t worth my time.  Rutgers sucks.  Birthplace of BAD football.



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Don’t Gopher That!


Why so silent, good Messieurs?
Did you think that I had left you for good?
Have you missed me, good Messieurs?
I have written you a recap

Here I bring the finished blog
*GOPHER Triumphant*!
I advise you to read on
My instructions should be clear
Remember there are worse things than a shattered perfect year!

My apologies to Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Though I may have disappeared as quickly as the Phantom of the Opera, I did not actually disappear.  And it had nothing to do with a devastating loss to the Golden Gophers of Minnesota.  After watching the Lions throw away a possible undefeated season and play-off invitation with a miserably lackluster performance in Minnesota that angered this Phantom to no end, I did what any cold, shivering MVB (most valuable blogger) north of the Mason-Dixon line would do . . .  I went to Disney world!

But here’s a few thoughts I started to type before time ran out and I had to head to Florida . . .

After climbing into the playoff picture for the first time ever, Penn State threw away its best chance to actually play in said playoff picture in a flurry of interceptions, bad breaks and questionable coaching decisions.

Going for two early in the game?  It really didn’t make a difference in the final score–we would still have been down by four and forced to go for a touchdown anyway, but . . . a conversion there would have put us in the position of kicking a field goal to tie the game.  Woulda . . .

We can debate kicking the field goal versus going for it on fourth down all we want–and second guessing is never perfect as we could miss the field goal, they could run the ensuing kick off back, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum, BUT . . . an extra point and a field goal on the scoreboard going into our final drive meant we would only need a field goal to WIN.  Coulda . . .

Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

Like it or not, this is who WE ARE  right now.  A team that recruits well, plays well most of the time, but somehow manages to lose a game (or two) along the way that it should have, could have, would have won.

Sorry Mini-soda.  You’ve got a good team there, but I wouldn’t cancel your ice fishing trip because you might be in the playoffs.  We didn’t play like the better team, but we are.  Whatever.  (I actually wrote this before the Gophers went on to flop against Iowa, but I really believe it.  I am amazed at the number of people writing the best team won.  No.  The best team shot itself in the foot and mucked around for sixty minutes and came up short instead of taking care of business.  Minnesota is not the best team, and if there could be a rematch I believe we would win.  I’d be willing to bet the house on it.  Not my house.  But somebody else’s house of course.)


Maybe USC and Florida State will go after PJ Fleck (aka Pajama Spot) instead of Franklin!  Although I haven’t checked the message boards since the loss, I imagine there is a vocal outcry to oust him!

With that gold tie, Fleck reminded me of Goldmember for some reason.


And since writing that drivel, Penn State has gone on to beat the Hoosiers 34-27 in another nail-biter which shouldn’t have been that close, but again–whatever.  I’m not going to belabor that victory with a recap, since I didn’t see the game (I was drinking in EPCOT!) We got the win and onward to the Buckeyes!

Am I the only PSU fan that thinks we have a chance in Columbus????

It’s probably the alcohol talking!

I’m smelling upset!  (It might be my stomach.) I look at myself in the mirror and I see… RutgersAl!  But I think we upset the Bucks in their house.  Bet the house on it.  Not your house.  Somebody else’s house!  (wink!)


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Foreign FOUR

The Nittany Lions have entered foreign territory this week.  Unchartered waters.  Penn State has never been ranked in the Top 4 of the playoff system as it is now.


So long, I’ve been looking too hard, I’ve been waiting too long
Sometimes I don’t know what I will find, I only know it’s a matter of time

I’ve been waiting for a rank like you to come into my life

The Lions debuted at NUMBER 4 on the College Football Playoff Poll, presumably due to their schedule which was more difficult than Clemson’s.  Much to the chagrin of Clemson fans.  But that will all sort itself out for the Tigers as long as they keep winning . . . all four of the teams ahead of them play another one of the four in the coming weeks . . . two of them this weekend.

And while I am feeling fairly confident about this game, I was sitting in Beaver Stadium in 1999 when we played Minnesota–and I felt pretty confident we would win before that game.


One Play.  One loss.  But it sparked a downward slide–the DARK YEARS–2000-2004.


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Bye Week Blues . . . and Whites

Was this not one of the most boring and uninspired weekends of college football?

Not only did Penn State have a bye week, but no team in the Top 5 played this past weekend.  Mea Culpua.  Clemson beat Wofford 59-14 but I’m not sure that counts as a game!  The marquee match up of the week was formerly undefeated SMU playing Memphis.  Memphis won and the number of undefeated teams drops to 7–LSU, Alabama, THE school formerly known as just Ohio State, Clemson, Penn State, Baylor and Minnesota.  Perhaps the most exciting game was the Irish win over Virginia Tech, coming from behind with an 87 yard drive as time expired to win 21-20.

Contrast that to this coming weekend where #1 and #2 will face off in Alabama, Wisconsin (#16) and Iowa (#18) battle it out in Madison, and Penn State (#5) and Minnesota (#13) will square off in Minnesota.

Minnesota?  That makes me think of . . .


Or this guy . . .


And their mascot is a gopher????  Well,this is what comes to my mind . . .


So what do we know about the Minnesota Gophers?


Not a whole hell of a lot. While the goofy gophers are undefeated, their schedule has been less than impressive.  Granted, the Nittany Lions still have their toughest test ahead, but at least Penn State has beaten some ranked teams.  Minnesota has beaten some rank teams.

Iowa and Michigan are still ranked.  Pitt, Maryland and Michigan State all spent a few moments or two in the Top 25 at some point this season.

According to Team Rankings, Penn State has the 7th most difficult schedule (Auburn is #1) and the Golden Goophers are ranked at #77.

These two teams have two common:  Purdue and Maryland.  Penn State beat the boilermakers 35-7 while Minnesota won 38-31.  Against the Terps, Penn State shut them out 59-0 at Maryland, while the Gophers won 52-10 on their home turf.

OddsShark has Penn State around a 6 point favorite, but while they think Penn State wins, they predict Minnesota to cover, and take the over.  Their predicted score:  PSU 36- Minnesota 32.  I really don’t think the Gophers can put up 32 points against our defense, but with the unpredictability of our offense–and this is not a good type of unpredictability as when opponents can’t predict what we are going to do but rather we don’t know whether our offense is going to look good or not–I do think this will be a close game.

Saturday at noon, in a state called Minnesota, we shall find out.



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Sparty Crashers

This was supposed to be the trap game.  This was the latest game of reckoning, or as my fellow blogger, The Nittany Turkey calls it, the Sanguinarian Day of Reckoning.  Or one of many potential days of reckoning that have not yet reckoned.  Penn State had lost the last two to Michigan State and James Franklin was 1-4 against Mark Dantonio.  Michigan State was supposed to have our number, if not our playbook.


But the day of reckoning has been postponed at least another two weeks, as the Nittany Lions dominated the Spartans 28-7 in a torrential downpour in East Lansing, Michigan.  Did you by any chance see the woodshed beating that Michigan put on the Irish in the same downpour, albeit 66 miles or so away?  Makes our win over the wolverines look just a little more shiny this morning.

The only bad news is that this means we have to crate up and haul off the Land Grant Trophy to State College.  Shouldn’t the loser have to keep and dust this piece of crap? It resembles the moss covered three handled family credenza from the Cat in the Hat.  It’s eerily similar to the Lou Grant Trophy.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out . . .


Despite the humiliation of having this monstrosity in our trophy case, the Nittany Lions improved to 8-0 on the season, #5 in both polls (thank you Kansas State and shame on you Auburn!), and Penn State pulls within one of evening up the all-time series with the Spartans at 16-17-1.

While Sean Clifford has had his ups and downs this season, certainly understandable given his first season as a starter, he found a way to throw FOUR touchdown passes under conditions that should be more conducive to a running game.  Pat Friermuth had a hat trick with three touchdown receptions himself.

The defense played their typical Penn State bend but don’t let the other team score defense, holding the Spartans to 83 yards on the ground for 2.7 yards per carry.  Only 7 points appeared on the scoreboard.  Penn State didn’t gain a lot on the ground either, but Noah Cain left the game early with an injury.

That is not to say that Penn State didn’t have it’s problems.  Today was the day for Special Teams to struggle, and that is not at all surprising given the weather conditions.  But a fumbled kick-off (ultimately recovered by the Lions,) a punt return for a touchdown called back for running into the kicker, a missed PAT, and a kick-off out of bounds all add up to a less than stellar performance.  But it was not a game close enough for special teams to make a difference.


Unlike last week, the numbers largely favor Penn State.  Both teams struggled on third down.  Penn State still is committing too many penalties, including spitting on the other team.  Really?  When you’re winning?  Not that losing justifies such behavior but at least we might understand how you could be upset enough to do something like that.

We actually won time of possession, by a small margin.


The Spartan faithful apparently booed their team as they left the field going into halftime.  The wet soggy crowd of 70,298 was not happy.  The stadium, at least as shown on TV, was never full.


Sparty Martian


The Buckeyes continue to roll as they defeated Wisconsin 38-7.  Fields spent a few minutes in the medical tent.  The game was only 10-0 at the half and the Buckeyes scored a TD late in the second to take that lead into the locker room.

THEM, the wolverines, bounced back from their loss to us to completely embarrass the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 45-14.  Even the announcers were chastising the Irish for not showing up.  Maybe Michigan is pretty good.  I’m glad we played THEM when we did.  They will be a force to reckon with going forward.

Indiana secured bowl eligibility by defeating the Cornhuskers 38-31 for their third straight conference win and their first victory in Lincoln since 1959.

Minnesota is now 8-0, after dispatching Maryland 52-10 in Minneapolis.

Iowa beat Northwestern 20-0 with another great defensive effort.

After beating Wisconsin last week, the Illini followed up their encore performance with a victory over Purdue 24-6.

And Rutgers won a game!  Not a Big Ten game.  Not against an FBS team.  But by God they beat Liberty 44-34!  Take that, Jerry Falwell!


In Manhattan . . . Kansas State held off an Oklahoma comeback as the Sooners appeared to have recovered an onside kick, but on further review were found to be guilty of touching the ball before it went ten yards.   K-state won 48-41 in a thriller.

In Baton Rouge . . . LSU hung on to defeat Auburn 23-20.  The Tigers are off next week before facing Bama.

In Mobile Alabama . . . it wasn’t the Crimson Tide but App State beat the snot out of South Alabama 30-3 to remain unbeaten on the season.

In Fort Worth . . . TCU upset the 15th ranked Longhorns 37-27.

In Houston . . . SMU remained undefeated by beating the Cougars 34-31.


Bye Week.

I will look at the upcoming game with Minnesota next week.



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BIG Ugly Win is Beautiful

Penn State jumped out to a 21-0 lead Saturday night before the fourth largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history, but then, inexplicably the Nittany Lions went stagnant on offense, allowing the defense to play all but a few minutes of the second half on their own.  Play calling?  Execution?  Lack of a killer instinct?  Bad luck?  Bad juju?


Mount Nittany’s alive, with the sound of cheering . . .

In the end, though, the defense prevailed, holding on fourth and goal albeit with the gift of a dropped pass to complete Michigan’s failure to come back.  Penn State won 28-21.

As one Michigan blogger typed,

Instead it’s a game where Michigan loses in a blizzard of their own making and the rational post-game take is cautious optimism because that wasn’t as bad as we all expected. That was their best performance of the year, the weird road game where you walk into the kitchen, forget why you went there in the first place, and end up making beef stew. You don’t even like beef stew. In my world the thing you do with carrots that have been boiled for five hours is throw them out. And then you lose.

I have been there.  I have done that.  Well, not making beef stew or boiling the bejeesus out of carrots because, well, I can’t cook.  I don’t cook.  Do you see what I’m doing here?  Can you smell what I’ve got cooking?  (It’s a charred hot mess that smells like smoke and ashes, but the Penn State football team–and this season–rose like a Phoenix from that fiery hot mess with a victory over their Big Ten nemesis since day one:  The-M.

Do you remember the crowd noise penalty in 1993?

Was that not fitting that Michigan had to take a time out BEFORE they even ran their first play as the crowd rocked Happy Valley?

Penn State did not waltz away with a blow out victory.  They did not smell the blood on the field in the first quarter and then go for the jugular.  It was not that kind of win.

And just what kind of win was it?

Was Penn State really good, but Michigan able to almost match-up, two teams battling down to the final seconds of regulation with the outcome in doubt?

Did Penn State “get lucky” that Ronnie-no-victory-Bell dropped the pass?

Or did Penn State’s defense make him so edgy he couldn’t complete the “one job”, the “one play” that apparently was this game.

Were the wolverines a beneficiary of bad calls, or were they the victim of them?

I’m, here to tell you that it doesn’t matter.

The scoreboard tells the only story that will be recorded in the annuls of football lore.  You won’t pick up a media guide ten years from now, flip to this season, to this game, and see an asterisk, leading you to a disclaimer in fine print at the bottom of the page that reads, Michigan should have won but their player dropped a pass that should have been a tying touchdown.

Let me tell you this again:  I (and PSU fans all over) have been there before–done that.

Just in the last two seasons alone, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory over Ohio State and Michigan State.  Back to back losses in two consecutive years where our beloved team LED in the fourth quarter, but could not hang on, and ultimately lost the game.  I still haven’t gotten over the Rose Bowl loss to USC.  A loss.  No asterisks.  No moral victories.  Nothing elite.


We actually won this game.  With an offense that slept through basically two quarters.  Again, we can banter back and forth about whether it was coaching or execution–or God forbid!  maybe Michigan has a pretty good defense did you ever think of that? –but its mental masturbation that will never produce the same orgasm as a victory.

This was a beautiful win, on an incredible night, with an incredible crowd and it would be pointless to argue otherwise.  That’s the job for the Michigan fans.

And if you’re still not convinced this was a great win, ask Wisconsin if they would rather win ugly or lose.


You want numbers?  Really?  Have you been paying attention?  There are only two numbers that really matter.  28.  And 21.  And maybe 7 and 0.

The wolverines out gained us–by air and by land, Paul Revere would have had a  heart attack hanging all the lanterns–out first downed, out converted us on third and fourth downs, out penalized us, and won time of possession 37:45 to 22:15.  They held the ball for 9:19 in the fourth quarter, but it seemed like more.

As the Michigan blogger noted above, that was their best performance of the year . . . and we still came out on top!

There are only TEN teams (out of 130 FBS schools) that are still undefeated at week eight.  Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Baylor, Minnesota, SMU, and Appalachian State!  We are!  One of them!


110,669 screaming white-clad fans.  BEST.  FANS.  ANYWHERE.

Penn State moved to 7-0 on the season.  #6 on both polls.

KJ Hamler was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.

The drum major stuck both flips.  That’s recruiting AND development, baby.

College Game Day (built by the Home Depot) was in Happy Valley.  Lee Corso picked PSU!


Video on ESPN


So let’s see.  The Buckeyes rolled over NW 52-3, Penn State won, and Minnesota is still undefeated, routing Rutgers 42-7.  How about Wisconsin?  Oh, they were playing Illinois.  They’re still undefeated too.  Wait!  What?  They lost?  24-23?  Oh, the inhumanity!  I swear, with God as my witness, that Badgers could fly!

Iowa rebounded with a 26-20 win over Purdue.

Indiana defeated Maryland 34-28.


The Nittany Lions must travel to East Lansing for a 3:30 clash with the Spartans who are 4-3 on the season and no longer ranked.


There are no common opponents yet on the schedule to draw any transitive property comparisons.  On paper, there is no reason we should not be able to beat MSU.  Of course, on the back side of that paper is a collection of stats saying Illinois should not beat Wisconsin–sometimes out opponents don’t read that paper!

Can the Nittany Lions bring enough game (is that two quarters, 28 minutes, I don’t know) to Spartan Stadium or has the last two BIG wins drained the tank?  This is a terrible stretch of games, and will test our players and coaches.

The early betting line I saw was Penn State favored by a touchdown.



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