Bye before the storm for Oregon

It's not that Oregon coach Chip Kelly dislikes polls or the endless debate that is major part of college football. And it's not that he isn't aware of the complexity of the BCS system. Nor does he say he's unaware of where his team stands at present, which is -- for those who just emerged from a melted block of Arctic ice -- No. 1 in the nation with two games to play.

He understands the system. But that understanding and awareness hasn't helped the Ducks start 10-0 for the first time in program history, nor will it help them play for the school's first national title.

"I have not once talked about the rankings or where we are or any of that stuff because we have two games to play and rankings only count on Dec. 5," he said for the 237th time this season.

The Ducks are off this week and will play host to No. 22 Arizona on Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving. They conclude their season at Oregon State on Dec. 4.

If they win-out, they're going to Glendale, Ariz., to play in the BCS national title game.

It would seem the second bye of the season comes at a good time. The Ducks are coming off their worst offensive performance -- a 15-13 victory at California -- which was the first time this season that an opponent provided a significant fourth-quarter challenge.

Therefore, it's reasonable to believe the bye would give the Ducks time to figure out what didn't work and why at Cal -- a potential future defensive road map for opponents -- as well as to decompress and get focused for the two biggest regular-season games in program history.

But Kelly follows his own sort of coaching Zen.

"The bye comes when the bye comes," he said. "The thing I've always known about byes is if you win after the bye, the bye came at a good time."

Still, the bye came at a good time, starting with the fact it will give running back LaMichael James a chance to rest what appeared to be an ankle injury suffered late in the final drive at Cal.

As for correcting issues from the Cal game, Kelly gave most of the credit to the Bears defense: "A lot of other teams have tried that scheme and it hasn't worked," he said.

The Bears emphasized penetration at the line of scrimmage, ran man coverage almost exclusively and used a free safety to spy on quarterback Darron Thomas on the spread option. The Bears showed more gap-discipline than most Oregon foes, and they also won one-on-one battles at the line of scrimmage.

"Some people have some unreal expectations that they think we're going to score 50 points in every game," Kelly said.

Kelly said bye week practices will mostly focus on fundamentals, getting back to basics and "having fun." Practices will be closed until Sunday, which is when we'll get an update on James, who said Saturday he expected to practice this week.

While the college football world is swirling -- and the Ducks fan base is twisted into knots over dream scenarios that are so close they already can imagine their celebratory freak out -- Kelly knows that there is only one goal this week.

"We've got to get better," he said.