Let's take for granted that bye weeks are good things for college football teams.
Rest is good, for one. It allows players with minor injuries to heal. And, one would think, extra prep time helps. It provides the potential for added wrinkles to the game plan as well as more time to fine tune.
Yet not all off weekends are created equal.
Here's an evaluation of the Pac-12's 2013 bye weeks, starting with the South Division.
Arizona: Sept. 21 (before visit to Washington) and Oct. 5 (before visit to USC)
Skinny: It's good to have off weeks before tough road games, particularly winnable games that could get the Wildcats off to a 5-0 start. The first bye comes after a notably weak nonconference slate (Northern Arizona, UNLV, UT San Antonio), so the Wildcats could hold a lot back in advance of the visit to Washington. Further, they could address any issues revealed during what amounts to a preseason. On the downside, it's nice to spread byes throughout the season. These off dates come during a three-week stretch early in the season, preceding eight consecutive games.
Grade? B. The good news is the off weeks bolster the chances for a strong start. The bad news is no relief over the late grind of the season.
Arizona State: Aug. 31 (opening weekend before Sacramento State) and Oct. 26 (before visit to Washington State)
Skinny: The worst weekend for a bye is the opening weekend. All it does is extend preseason practices a week, which is only a negative. The second bye is pretty good. It comes after a tough seven-week run and gives the Sun Devils a breather before the five-game home stretch. While it's nice to have some extra time in advance of a November trip to potentially chilly Pullman, Arizona State might have preferred the off week coming in advance of a critical visit to UCLA.
Grade? C-. A late October off weekend is nice, but sitting out the opening week is of no value.
Colorado: Sept. 21 (before visit to Oregon State) and Oct. 19 (before visit from Arizona)
Skinny: The first off week comes after the nonconference schedule, at which point the Buffaloes will be hoping for at least a 2-1 start heading into the Pac-12 slate -- a brutal three-game stretch of a visit to Oregon State, Oregon and a trip to Arizona State. This feels like good timing, but the odds seem long that an extra week of practice will produce a performance that can win in Corvallis. The second bye comes after that aforementioned stretch and precedes six consecutive weekends of play. An extra week before a visit from Arizona passes the smell test as an upset opportunity.
Grade: A-. The perfect scenario would be for the Buffs to get byes before playing games against second-tier conference teams, whom they have the best chance to defeat. That extra time and rest could help produce an upset. They get only one of those here, but this is about as good a bye setup as a coach should hope for.
UCLA: Sept. 7 (before visit to Nebraska) and Sept. 28 (before visit to Utah)
Skinny: An early-season bye isn't typically good, but it's not bad when it's before a key trip to Nebraska that could firmly establish the Bruins as a top-25 team. A bye before playing at South Division foe Utah isn't terrible either. But the Bruins have two byes in the season's first five weeks and then play nine in a row. That's not ideal, particularly if injuries start to pile up.
Grade? C+. The slots provide useful extra prep time, but playing nine consecutive weekends isn't a good thing.
USC: Oct. 5 (before a visit from Arizona)
Skinny: USC is playing Hawaii this fall, which allowed the Trojans to schedule 13 games, so it only gets one off week. That bye falls on Week 6 before a home game with division foe Arizona. It's not good to have just one week off, but the upside is the rest comes close to midseason and it comes before what might be a key divisional game.
Grade? C. It's a decent weekend for a bye but 13 games in 14 weekends is tough.
Utah: Sept. 28 (before visit from UCLA) and Nov. 2 (before visit from Arizona State)
Skinny: Utah, notably, didn't play Oregon or Stanford during its first two years in the Pac-12. It won't get that good fortune this fall, but it does have a great scheduling setup here. For one, these byes precede games with the two South Division front-runners. If the Utes hope to get into the South mix, they need at least one win in this two games. So extra rest and prep time should help. Second, these off weeks fall after tough road trips. The Holy War against BYU, set for Sept. 21, is always an emotional game, but this meeting comes before a controversial two-year hiatus, making it even more taxing. The Utes will be at USC on Oct. 26. Win or lose that game, it might be beneficial to shake off a trip to the Coliseum before focusing on the Sun Devils.
Grade? A. This is an ideal setup for off weeks. Now can the Utes take advantage?