Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

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Brigham Young vs. VirginiaFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Brigham YoungFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Few teams fielded a defense capable of dominating games the way the Cougar's did in 2012. Perhaps the most impressive display came in an epic battle with Boise State on September 20, that resulted in the Broncos winning 7-6 when BYU missed a 2-point conversion.
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Another thing that was glaringly obvious in that game was that the Cougar's offense was holding the team back. Riley Nelson was playing through injuries, and he finished the season with just 13 touchdowns, and as many INTs.
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The offense was at it's best with Taysom Hill at quarterback, and he'll take the reigns in 2013. He completed 24 of 36 attempts, with a TD and an INT in a 6-3 win over the USU Aggies last year. He added 80 yards on the ground in that game, an impressive performance against one of the top defenses in the country.
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The Cougars open the season on the road versus Virginia, and this isn't an easy matchup by any means. The Cavs though are coming off a disappointing 4-8 campaign last year, and that has resulted in bringing in new coordinators on both sides of the ball.
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The defense should be solid with all four starters returning in the secondary, led by all-star candidate Demetrious Nicholson at cornerback.
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The passing game was the Achilles heel last season, and there is no reason to expect it to get any better this year.
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This is a nightmare matchup for Virginia, and it's unlikely they will get anything going offensively against this Cougar's defense.

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Rice @ Texas A&MFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Rice 1st HalfFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This is a first half play on the Rice Owls, plus the points, against Texas A&M.  I realize that in lieu of the Johnny Manziel suspension, this seems like a pretty "square" wager.  But I happen to think it's a wise one as well.
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Here are my keys to the game:FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1.  No Johnny Football - Uh, this sounds like a good place to start.  In case you've spent your summer in Siberia, Manziel will not play in the first half Saturday as a result of his role in (multiple?) autograph signings where he may or may not have actually received cash. Way to go, NCAA.  Regardless, the loss of Manziel is going to have a negative effect on the A&M offense.  Head Coach Kevin Sumlin has been his usual tight-lipped self over who will get the starting nod, but whether it's Matt Joeckel (Luke's brother) or freshman Kenny Hill, there will be obviously very little or no experience at all under center.
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2. Rice Is Good - Everyone keeps saying that the Aggies wouldn't have even needed Manziel to beat Rice.  This is probably true, but give the Owls some credit.  This is a team that went 7-6 last season and blew out Air Force 33-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl. They have 19 returning starters, tied for the most in the entire country.  With Tulsa looking as bad as they did Thursday, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Rice playing in the Conference USA Championship Game.
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3. X-Factor - The pressure is going to be on A&M this season like no other season in the program's history.  I expect a sluggish start that allows Rice to hang around for most of the game. With the Aggies playing Alabama in two weeks (host Sam Houston St next week), Sumlin isn't going to try much here.

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Central Michigan vs. MichiganFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Central Michigan +31½FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Central Michigan is a fine MAC team under Dan Enos with an excellent offense. They are off a 7-6 campaign including in a 24-21 victory in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Tackle Eric Fisher was selected as the first pick in the NFL Draft! Junior wideout Titus Davis was one of the top receivers in the MAC as a sophomore, racking up 860 yards and eight TDs on 43 receptions. The Chippewas are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 vs. the Big Ten and 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games on fieldturf. They will be up for this game, while Michigan has a showdown with Notre Dame on deck. The Wolverines are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in August, so grab the underrated visitors.

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Penn State / Syracuse Under 51.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This total is way too high. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see these two teams combine for less than 40 points let alone getting all the way into the 50s. Both teams are trotting out new quarterbacks, and they both have a solid defense. The Orange will rely heavily on their ground game this season as they return both running backs from last season, both of which ran for over 100 yards in their Bowl victory. Syracuse and Penn St. will both try and control the flow of this game, which will lead to much lower scoring than Vegas thinks. Between the ground game of the 'Cuse, and the solid defense for both teams, the under is the play.
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Syracuse averaged 30 points a game last season, but that was with Ryan Nassib, who is one of the career passing leaders in Syracuse history as well as a receiving corps that has all-time stats to their credentials as well. Both Nassib and the WRs have moved on, and the 'Cuse will be searching for answers on the offensive side of the ball. The under will be easy money in this game as I see a 21-17 final.

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Jason SharpeFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Cincinnati -10.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Both programs debut new head coaches here in this one. Cincinnati will go with a sixth-year quarterback under center and the top offensive line in CFB. Those are the kind of teams that won't be intimidated or nervous here in their season openers. The Bearcats have quietly built a very strong program with back-to-back 10-win seasons. In fact, they were just a combined 16 points away from a perfect season last year as they were within a touchdown in all three of their losses. Cincinnati ended the season on a point spread tear, covering six of their last seven games. They have also gone 6-1 against the number their last seven nonconference games and are 6-2 ATS their last eight home contests.
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Purdue will be going through some major changes this season as they are going a completely different direction with no-nonsense head coach Darrel Hazell running the show. The Boilermakers have dropped seven of their last 10 games against the spread and were soundly beaten nearly every time they stepped up in class last season in the Big Ten, losing by 19 at home to Michigan, by 24 at home to Wisconsin and by 25 at home to Penn State. They did manage to take Ohio State to overtime in Columbus before losing that one by seven.
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This game is much bigger here for Cincinnati as they have a lot of veterans on this team, and these are the kind of guys who expect to win their home opener. Purdue doesn't have the firepower to keep this one close. Play Cincinnati here. I have started off the first four weeks of each CFB season on fire, winning at a 60% win rate combined during this time. I am fired up again for this year and have a big card to kick things off this opening week. It's the best time of the year to be ahead of the betting market, and I showed that last season with a 7-0 Week 2 in CFB and am expecting a lot of the same things this year as well.

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Temple vs. Notre DameFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Notre Dame -29½FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This is a big game for the Irish after getting embarrassed by Alabama in the national title. HC Brian Kelly knows that a blowout win will silence the critics and erase the memory of that ugly loss to the Crimson Tide. The Irish get the perfect opponent to wax as Temple is in their first year under new HC Matt Rhule along with a pair of new coordinators. Notre Dame will run the ball all over the poor Temple rush defense while the Irish defense will stifle the weak Owls’ offense. Notre Dame can name the score in this game on Saturday afternoon.

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Freddy WillsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Louisiana Tech vs. NC StateFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Louisiana Tech +14FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Dave Doreen comes over from Northern Illinois to NC State to take over a very thin roster with only 12 starters returning. Mike Glennon left for the NFL from the QB position and they will have to replace a total of 4 starters with 137 total starts along the offensive line. With a new QB and new offensive line with a first time OL coach, I expect this group to run the ball a lot and the fact that LA Tech returns their 4 starters up front and hired a defensive minded coach in Skip Holtz leads me to believe that they will set NC State up with a lot of 3rd and longs on Saturday. NC State just returns guys at the wrong position as they return 5 of their top 6 on the defensive line but they were ranked 88th in adjustment line yards while their secondary has to be completely rebuilt.
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LA Tech offense has to replace a lot of guys, but with a 4* recruit taking over at QB and a running back in Kevin Dixon along with a lot of backfield depth this team should avoid the turnovers early in the season, run the ball effectively and avoid blowouts. The defense weakness is in the secondary, but I don't expect it to show against NC State.

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Joe Duffy

Texas-San Antonio vs. New Mexico    
Play: New Mexico -3

For many of you this will be your 26th straight year of winning with Joe Duffy's Picks. For the rest of you, the actuary says you can start a 20-plus year run now. Few in the history of the world can say they have been a public winning full-time handicapper and gambler since the 1980s. What a sensational college football card Saturday from Grandmaster Sports Handicapper Joe Duffy. A stunning 13 winners are in store including two highest rated Wise Guy plays.

The free winner from the pro gambler whose picks have been public since 1988 is to go with New Mexico (-3) Texas San Antonio. UTSA has beaten up on FCS but struggled against FBS squads such as New Mexico. They are a clear-cut Peter Principle team.

Senior defensive end Will Ritter has been suspended from all team activities indefinitely. This really hurts a team that is among the least experienced in the nation.

Ritter has played 18 games for the Roadrunners over two seasons. He has started 13. In 11 games last season, he started eight and made 26 tackles.

He was second on the team with 3 1/2 sacks and had 4 tackles for losses. Only offensive tackle Johnny Vizcaino is questionable for New Mexico. Home field advantage and a San Antonio team overrated because they beat up on the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Take the Lobos as home favorites.

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Marc Lawrence

Buffalo at Ohio State University
Prediction: Buffalo

After last year’s 12-0 perfect season and a consensus No. 2 preseason ranking in the polls, there’ll be many a bettor that will turn a blind eye to the pointspread and back the Bucks every week. Not us. Just as a ‘Tom Ford’ label inside a suit coat means you’ll be paying an inflated price, so too does the name ‘Urban Meyer’ ensure that the linesmaker can get away with tacking on a few extra points to the number. And after finishing 2012 without a loss – despite being outyarded on four different occasions and allowing 360 YPG on defense – that price will climb even higher. Yes, we realize Meyer brings a slew of good numbers into this fray (namely 31-9-1 ATS versus non-cons), and he did coach at Bowling Green, but the truth of the matter is he is only 6-6 as a favorite of more than 26 points, and was only 8-10 ATS against fellow MACers in his days at BGSU. Today’s sacrificial lambs from western New York have put up some decent numbers of their own: 4-0 ATS Game One, 4-0 ATS as dogs of 30 or more points, and 3-1 ATS in their last four rumbles with the Big Ten. Buffalo also returns 17 starters – including stud RB Branden Oliver, on this year’s preseason Doak Walker watch list – to open the season and our tireless database tells us that 17-returning starter underdogs of 27 or more points are 18-5-1 ATS in season openers since 1990. That’s enough to put us on the dog against what we consider to be a vastly overrated Bucks squad, one whose on-the-field numbers last year came nowhere close to matching their undefeated season. Buffy the Buckeye slayer? Not a chance… but the Bulls will exit Columbus with the cash.  We recommend a 1-unit play on Buffalo.

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Vegas ConnectionFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Texas State at So MississippiFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Texas StateFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Last year Texas St opened at Houston and won as a 36 point underdog. Coach Franchone (ex Ala, A&M, NM) S Miss lost every game last year 0-12 they will be improved quite a bit for another new HC Monken. But must take the points in what should be a a game that goes to the wire.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

Fezzik

TCU / LSU Under 50

BOTH of these coaches have a long history of playing it safe in big games, and relying on their defenses. We have seen a large increase in scoring in CFB, but I just cannot believe these two veteran coaches are suddenly going to join the no huddle, push the pace party that is getting more common in CFB. I fully expect a snoozer here. 1h UNDER 24.5 is solid also.

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Georgia vs. ClemsonFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Take: Clemson +2.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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In a game that will have National Title implications, the Georgia Bulldogs will travel to Death Valley to take on the Clemson Tigers. Clemson will be looking for its’ second straight win against an SEC team after beating LSU in a bowl game to end their 2012 season while Georgia enters the game knowing they basically gave a way a chance to beat Bama in the SEC Title Game. This one looks to be a shootout with a posted total as we type this in the 71-72 range. Clemson has a dynamic play maker in Sammy Watkins and they have been excellent ATS on their home turf covering 9 of their past 13 contests. Mark Richt is a coach we look to play against anytime we can and today seems like as good a spot as any. We’re also in the Aaron Murray is overrated camp so put another mark on the Clemson side. It’s going to be very loud in Death Valley, and we look for the Tigers to defend their home turf with an outright win over Georgia.

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Scott SpreitzerFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Georgia at ClemsonFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: ClemsonFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Georgia Bulldogs are a mess in the secondary and Tajh Boyd and the Tiger receiving corps led by Sammy Watkins ought to have little trouble burning it on a consistent basis. Several on Georgia's defensive 2-deep have seen very little action. The defensive backfield has seven players on the injury list. One will miss the game due to suspension, one is out because of an ACL injury, three are listed as questionable, and two are listed as probable. The "Dawgs" are really hamstrung at the safety position, starting a true freshman in place of a couple of departed safeties from last year. While I like UGA QB Aaron Murray, I just don't believe his defense is going to slow Clemson down enough to win this game. The Tigers head into this one on an 8-2, 80% ATS run and I believe they'll put another in the win column on Saturday. I'm recommending a play on Clemson, plus the points.

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Sam MartinFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Buffalo at Ohio StateFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Ohio StateFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Buckeyes were the lone undefeated team last season, going 12-0 under new head coach Urban Meyer (although OSU was banned from bowl play) and we'll back them to win big and cover this huge number in their season opener this afternoon. Ohio State showed no mercy last year at home against Miami Ohio crushing them 56-10 and for a Heisman-hopeful quarterback like Braxton Miller, this Buffalo opponent is the perfect chance to pad his stats. Buckeyes will be missing a few players due to suspensions, but even with those losses they still have huge skill advantages at nearly every position on the field and shouldn't be challenged on either side of the ball. Buckeyes jump out to a huge lead and don't let up in a blowout win and cover.

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Jimmy Boyd

Nebraska -30

Nebraska should start their season off with a very big game against Wyoming. The Cowboys defense gave up 32.8 points per game on the road last season, while Nebraska scored an average of 41 points per game at home. The Huskers defense held opponents to 16.1 points per game in home games, and Wyoming will certainly be one of the worst teams they face.

The Cowboys offense averages 25.8 points per game, but most of their scoring was done against Mountain West opponents. They did not face the likes of a Nebraska team that finished with one of the best defenses in the Big Ten. Last year Nebraska scored 34.8 points per game and played a very difficult schedule. This matchup against Wyoming should reflect the dramatic difference in talent these teams possess.

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Rob Vinciletti

Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Arkansas    
Play: Louisiana-Lafayette +10

The Cajuns have covered 14 of 15 as a road dog the past few seasons and Arkansas qualifies in a system that has won 26 of 33 times since 1990 that plays against game one double digit favorites that won 5 or less games last season, vs an opponent that won 4 or more games. The line is usually too high in these games and our dog has a tendency to stick around. The Razorbacks have a new coach in Bret Bilema. Arkansas was 0-4 ats as a home favorite last year and lost to LA. Monroe as a 30 point favorite. The Cajuns were a 9 win team last season, their 2nd straight and have covered 8 of 9 in the first of back to back road games. Look for them to hang around in this game in a classic win and no cover situation for Arkansas.

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Black Widow

UMass +45

The UMass Minutemen are simply catching too many points Saturday against a Wisconsin team that will have a hard time scoring 45 points, which will make it difficult to cover this 45-point spread. Sure, Wisconsin has won 17 straight home openers at Camp Randall, but they have only come by an average of 19 points/game. The Badgers barely escaped with a 26-21 win in their home opener against Northern Iowa last year despite being a 40-point favorite. This is an offense that only put up 29.6 points and 393 total yards per game last year, and now it loses leading rusher Montee Ball (1,830 yards, 22 TD). The defense loses five of its top eight tacklers, including Mike Taylor (123 tackles, 15 for loss) and Devin Smith (57 tackles, 4 INT). While UMass was 1-11 last year, only two of its losses came by more than this margin of 45 points. Take UMass and the points.

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Dave Price

Detroit Tigers -170

The Tigers have the clear advantage on the mound with Sanchez. The right-hander has been lights out at home where he is 7-2 with a 2.27 ERA. The Tigers are 6-1 in his last 7 starts and 4-0 in his last 4 starts versus division opponents. Cleveland's Kazmir is 2-5 on the road where he has a 4.01 ERA this season. The Indians are 1-6 in his last 7 starts as a road underdog. Sanchez has a 1.88 ERA in 6 starts versus Cleveland while Kazmir has a 3.73 ERA in 12 starts versus Detroit. The Tigers 3-0 in Sanchez's last 3 starts versus the Indians. Also, the Indians are just 6-20 in the last 26 meetings. Take the Tigers.

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Jack Jones

Penn State -8½

Head coach Bill O’Brien did a tremendous job at Penn State last season. He was handed down several NCAA sanctions that had nothing to do with him, and all he did was get his team to fight through it and win eight games. Now, with 14 returning starters, the Nittany Lions should be strong once again in 2013.

The offense boasts eight returning starters, including leading rusher Zach Zwinak (1,000 yards, 6 TD) and electrifying receiver Allen Robinson (77 receptions, 1,013 yards, 11 TD). The defense returns six starters from a unit that allowed just 19.1 points per game last season. Considering only four defensive starters returned last season, the Nittany Lions have an excellent chance to improve upon last year's impressive numbers.

Syracuse is in a world of hurt this year with the loss of head coach Doug Marrone and the school’s all-time leading passer, Ryan Nassib, who has thrown for 9,190 yards in his career here. Marrone has bolted for the NFL to be the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. He didn’t leave the cupboard very full considering only 12 starters and 40 lettermen return. Also gone are Nassib’s top two receivers in Alec Lemon (72 receptions, 1,070 yards, 7 TD) and Marcus Sales (64, 882, 8 TD).

This play falls into a system that is 25-4 (86.2%) ATS since 1992. It tells us to bet against any team (SYRACUSE) – in the first week of the season, after closing out last season with 3 or more straight spread covers, team that had a good record last season (60% to 80%) playing a team that had a winning record.

The Nittany Lions are 9-1-1 against the spread in their last 11 games overall. Penn State is 23-3 against Syracuse since 1967 with four straight wins by an average of 23 points per game. Bet the Nittany Lions Saturday.

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Jeff Alexander

New York Mets +140

The Mets took Game 1 3-2, and they have a good opportunity to earn the series victory Saturday with Wheeler on the hill. The youngster has been outstanding on the road where he's 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in seven starts. The Mets are 5-0 in his last 5 road starts and 8-2 in his last 10 starts overall. Haren has looked much better of late, but he was roughed up in his last start and still carries a 5.22 ERA at home. The Nationals are 2-5 in his last 7 home starts and 4-13 in his last 17 starts overall. Bet the Mets.

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