by Rob Moseley
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Full pads
If you're like me, you've spent the last 24 hours frying your brain with Bowl Championship Series speculation.
To review: Best-case scenario for Oregon would have had Northern Illinois lose yesterday (check), Oklahoma State win this morning (no check), and Baylor lose today. In that case, the Ducks and Baylor would have been the top two choices for a Sugar Bowl at-large bid.
Given Oklahoma's win over Oklahoma State, it's now better to have Baylor BEAT Texas, making Baylor the Big 12 champs, rather than having Texas win the Big 12 and making Baylor yet another 10-2 team (along with Oregon, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Clemson) with a reasonable case for an at-large bid.
At this point, for Oregon's BCS chances, it all comes down to bowl politics. Will the Orange Bowl spurn long-standing conference partner the ACC by picking the Ducks over Clemson? Would the Sugar Bowl turn its back on new conference partner the Big 12 by taking Oregon over Oklahoma or (if it loses to Texas) Baylor?
(Caveat: If Clemson, Michigan State or Oklahoma finishes outside of the top 14 of the BCS standings tomorrow, they would be ineligible for an at-large bid. Those are possible but improbable.)
The safe bet remains that Oregon will go to the Alamo Bowl (perhaps against Texas, assuming the Longhorns lose to Baylor). But those BCS hopes will live on, until the matchups are officially set Sunday evening.
Now, switching gears.
While Oregon's players also have had one eye on results around the country, they've spent a considerable amount of time in the last 24 hours enjoying the several inches of snow that fell in and around Eugene.
On Friday afternoon, a bunch of football players organized an on-campus snowball fight against other students. Today at practice, Mark Helfrich broke up drills early for more shenanigans in the snow on the outdoor practice fields.
The school paper, the Daily Emerald, has a blow-by-blow account of #snowbrawl2013, and you can see video from KEZI and the Oregonian. Just following it on Twitter, it was a remarkable bit of outreach by the football team with the rest of the student body, and of team-building for the Ducks themselves.
"During the season we rarely get a chance to bond," freshman linebacker Torrodney Prevot said. "Getting out there with the student body, that was just amazing. To see everybody happy and having fun, especially with finals coming up (starting Monday), it was really fun."
The idea of taking on the general student body was advertised on Twitter most prominently by receiver Josh Huff. He also posed for several pictures with students after the snowball fight.
"They support us all season, good and bad," Huff said. "I just wanted to break down that barrier — student-athletes and students — a little bit.
"I think it really meant a lot, to let them know we appreciate them."
After practice today, the Ducks planned to build a snowman, but it dissolved into another snowball fight — with coaches being the primary target. Like Friday's battle with students, it was a chance for the Ducks to bond and blow off some steam, before the intensity of bowl preparations sets in after finals.
Highlights: After a few days off, there were a couple guys huffing and puffing today. But De'Anthony Thomas certainly had his legs under him, breaking off at least three long gains on runs or short passes. … Cameron Hunt got to the second level for a block that sprung one of DAT's big plays. … Defensively, Tyrell Robinson had a nice hit for a "tackle" on a screen pass, and Reggie Daniels came up with an interception. Unofficially, I feel like Daniels could challenge the likes of Terrance Mitchell for the lead in practice interceptions this season. … Though a receiver wasn't able to make the catch, Jake Rodrigues had a great throw deep down the sideline, zipping it between two defensive backs.
Other observations: With no opponent to prepare for, there was no scout team designated. So the young guys were worked more frequently into the mix with the two-deep, particularly at spots where veterans are nursing bumps and bruises. … The practice began with more conditioning than a normal day, and then some basic fundamentals like falling on a fumble for defenders, and trying to keep from being stripped on offense. … Then there were a few periods of position drills, seven-on and team work, though it was a shorter workout than normal. … The Ducks have another workout Sunday morning, then will break for finals. The next practice is scheduled for Friday.