It's amazing what a bye week can do for a college football team. No matter how any team is performing throughout the course of the season, each team works hard regardless, and thus deserves a week off to rest and recuperate for the next game.
It's even more amazing to see what a bye week can do for the fans of any one college football team.
Being a student on the campus at the University of Oregon, I have seen the effects the bye week has had on the student population. Why, just this weekend, some friends and I were thinking of things to fill our spare time with.
The most common answer? "I don't know man. The Ducks aren't on, so there really isn't much to do."
During the fall term, students at the University of Oregon eat, drink, sleep, breathe, and live Oregon Ducks Football.
As the Ducks prepare to visit Husky Stadium to face one of their arch-rivals, the Washington Huskies, Duck fans young and old are being filled up with the anticipation and eagerness of a small child on Christmas morning.
The biggest question coming out of Oregon Ducks' practices this week has been whether or not starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will play.
He has been practicing in full pads for the whole week, and has been taking his regular amount of snaps. So has backup quarterback Nate Costa, who started in place of the injured Masoli two weeks ago against UCLA.
Masoli has apparently been running half-speed during practices this week, which can mean one of two things. Either Masoli's knee is still not quite 100 percent, or he is being careful not to tweak his knee again before the game.
Duck fans have been reciting a new phrase this season: "In Chip we trust."
I hold absolute faith in Ducks head coach Chip Kelly. He is a very smart coach, and I have total confidence in him.
However, I personally feel, as I am sure Chip does, that if Masoli is not 100 percent by 12:30 PM PST this Saturday, he should not play.
The worst case scenario for the Ducks would be that Masoli re-injures his right knee against the Huskies and not be able to play against the USC Trojans the next week, a game that, if the Ducks defeat the Huskies this weekend, could very well decide the Pac-10.
Nate Costa proved to us all that given the chance, he can step in and lead the Ducks to victory. He was a bit rusty, but what can you expect from a guy who just played in his first football game in over three years?
Costa has his first career start, and his first career win under his belt. He is brimming with confidence, as is the team, coaching staff, and as I am as well.
Let it be known also that Washington's defense has been having horrible problems all season long. Example: A blown coverage against Arizona State that led to a 50-yard touchdown pass by Arizona State, a play that won the Sun Devils the game.
Here is what it really boils down to. If Masoli is not 100 percent by game time on Saturday, he should not play. Let Nate Costa start in his place. Washington's defense is not as strong as UCLA's is. With another week of practice under his belt, Costa should be well prepared to start for the second consecutive game.
Even if Masoli is 100 percent for the game, I still don't think that the Oregon offense work fire on all cylinders like they did against Cal and Washington State. Masoli will have to shake off the rust from a two-week absence.
But above all, no matter which quarterback starts, Oregon is favored to win this game by 10 points.
The Huskies hold arguably the best quarterback in the Pac-10 in Jake Locker. He has a cannon for an arm, and can beat you with his feet as well. It will be a challenge for the Ducks to contain him, as they have not faced a quarterback to this date with Locker's speed.
However, the Oregon Ducks defense is fast, strong, and smart.
I see this being a low scoring game no matter which quarterback is starting. But once Oregon scores their first points, more will be sure to come.
Let's put our full confidence behind whomever takes the helm at quarterback this weekend. It should be a great game.
I will conclude with a clever anecdote.
What do the Washington Huskies and Possums have in common?
They both play dead at home, and get killed on the road.
Oregon Ducks 27, Washington Huskies 10