But nothing will be certain until the No. 10 Ducks walk onto Folsom Field.
This from Rob Moseley of the Eugene Register-Guard after practice Thursday on Thomas, who left last Saturday's victory over Arizona State in the third quarter with a knee injury: "Quarterback Darron Thomas was dressed out with the rest of the team, as he has been all week, so there were no further clues today as to his status for Saturday's game at Colorado."
This from Ken Goe of The Oregonian after practice on James, who dislocated his elbow against California on Oct. 6 : "Running back LaMichael James, college football's leading rusher, did not participate much -- if at all."
Goe added: "I wouldn't expect to see him carry the ball Saturday."
If James can't go, as expected, he'd be replaced by Kenjon Barner, who has similar skill set. The Ducks' running game wouldn't change much.
But what might happen if Thomas can't go and redshirt freshman Bryan Bennett makes his first career start?
"First, it's not his first start, so don't go there," coach Chip Kelly said. "And second we just practice. I think you're making way too much out of it. If Bryan has to play this week, he has to play. We don't make it any bigger than it is."
Kelly is saying, first, that he won't let a sneaky question from a sneaky Pac-12 blogger cause him to provide a hint of what might happen Saturday, and, second, that the Ducks offense will be (mostly) the same, whether Thomas or Bennett is running things.
Maybe. But it's reasonable to assume a redshirt freshman making his first career start on the road likely won't be unleashed in the passing game, even if Colorado's secondary has been ravaged by injuries. Bennett, who completed 2 of 5 passes for 22 yards after replacing Thomas against Arizona State, has a strong arm, but he wasn't terribly consistent passing during spring or preseason practices, though it's possible he's become sharper during regular-season practices that have been close to reporters.
"Bryan is very athletic," Kelly said. "He's got a very, very strong arm. He can throw the ball, make every throw you need to make. He's got everything you're looking for in a quarterback. The only thing he lacks is experience."
Asked to assess Bennett's performance against Arizona State, Kelly noted a missed pass in the flat -- "He didn't set his feet and throw it; that's correctable," Kelly said -- but otherwise was pleased, which makes sense considering the Ducks outscored the Sun Devils 20-3 when he was in the game.
"Thought he did a real good job of managing the game, taking what the defense gives him," Kelly said.
Oregon doesn't figure to need much more than that against the Buffaloes. And they likely will be OK at home against Washington State on Oct. 29 without James and/or Thomas.
But things get tricky in November. The Ducks visit Washington on Nov. 5, Stanford on Nov. 12 and host USC on Nov. 19.
In those games, it would be nice to have James and Thomas feeling chipper and ready to go.