The jinx on South Florida was unintentional, but the Bulls clearly felt the magnitude of a Barometer mention. With all eyes on South Florida last Thursday, Pittsburgh stomped USF, 44-17, knocking the Bulls out of the Top 25. However, Illinois felt no such pressure in mounting a comeback against Northwestern, as wideout A.J. Jenkins hauled in 12 balls for 268 yards and three touchdowns in the 38-35 victory.
Clemson continued its hot start by destroying Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Tajh Boyd and freshman phenom Sammy Watkins continue to spur the Tigers to what could be an epic season. Virginia Tech will look to bounce back this week against a hungry Miami squad. Meanwhile, in perhaps the most impressive victory of the weekend, Wisconsin dismantled Nebraska in the Huskers' first taste of the Big Ten. Russell Wilson has given the Badgers a star quarterback to pair with their usually stellar defense and potent running game with Montee Ball and James White. The Badgers are a supreme darkhorse in the chase for the BCS Title.
Let's look at some more ups and downs in this week's College Football Barometer.
Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan - It's still the Denard Robinson show in Ann Arbor, but Toussaint has been a consistent contributor to the offense for the Wolverines. In four games, Toussaint has received double-digit carries, averaging 6.5 yards per rush. On Saturday against Minnesota, the sophomore had a career-high 108 yards on 11 carries, while also scoring a touchdown. With four touchdowns on the year, Toussaint is a good bet to succeed this weekend against Northwestern.
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - Don't let the triple-option fool you; Hill is a monster and still gets his share of looks in Georgia Tech's offense. He's 6-foot-5, 208, and has registered three 100-yard outputs already in 2010. Although at times it can be feast or famine for Hill, quarterback Tevin Washington can throw the ball effectively for an option gunslinger. After catching just one ball last week at N.C. State, expect Hill to break out against Maryland. The Terps allow 25.5 points per game, including yielding 35-plus points against West Virginia and Temple in September.
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford - Fleener has become a nice safety valve for Andrew Luck, collecting five touchdowns in four contests for the Cardinal. He scored seven times in 2010, catching 28 balls for 434 yards. He had a season-high four grabs for 78 yards and two touchdowns last week against UCLA despite being questionable with a concussion. A fully healed Fleener should have a field day against new Pac-12 opponent Colorado this Saturday.
Dustin Garrison, RB, West Virginia - Garrison was in a time share with Andrew Buie and Vernand Roberts to begin the season, but has emerged as the starting running back for the Mountaineers over the last two contests. He had a statement game on Saturday, albeit against Bowling Green. Garrison rushed for an absurd 291 yards on 32 carries, finding the end zone twice in the process.
Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern - Persa saw his first game action of the season at Illinois on Saturday and tossed four touchdown passes before re-injuring his surgically repaired right heel. Persa insists he'll play, but it would be a surprise to see him anywhere close to 100 percent. Northwestern will also take on 5-0 Michigan this week. Although they haven't played the toughest of schedules, the Wolverines have allowed just 10.2 points per contest, second in the nation. At least see how Persa responds to treatment during the week before getting comfortable with him as your quarterback.
Jaxon Shipley, WR, Texas - The McCoy-to-Shipley connection is old news by now for Texas fans, as the younger brothers of Colt and Jordan are now wreaking havoc on the Big 12. However, the young studs will face a difficult task in their first taste of the Red River Rivalry this weekend, as the Longhorns play host to Oklahoma. Shipley caught a career-high six balls for 141 yards and a score at Iowa State on Oct. 1, but he is just a freshman. Oklahoma has a championship caliber squad, so Shipley could get overwhelmed by the moment.
Jordan Jefferson/Jarrett Lee, QB, LSU - Jefferson was reinstated for the Tigers and scored a rushing touchdown in his season debut for the Tigers against Kentucky on Saturday. Still, Jefferson did not attempt a pass, as Jarrett Lee had the majority of snaps under center. Nevertheless, Lee didn't exactly impress, completing just 8-of-21 throws for 169 yards and a score. Coach Les Miles could choose not to rock the boat, or he may prefer Jefferson's play-making skills. Or, he could continue to use them both, which is a fantasy owner's worst nightmare. Check back during the week to gauge what's going on in Les Miles's head.
Clint Trickett, QB, Florida State - Trickett has a nice potential matchup with Wake Forest, with the caveat being that he may not play. After passing for 336 yards and three touchdowns at Clemson, Trickett might yield the way to starter E.J. Manuel following the bye week. Manuel was less-than-stellar against Oklahoma on Sept. 17 before getting knocked out, but the job is likely still his to lose after waiting two years behind Christian Ponder. Nevertheless, if Manuel is not fully recovered from his injury, suffers a setback during the week or struggles in his return, Trickett could assume the responsibility of piloting the Seminole offense against a mediocre WFU team.
John Brantley, QB, Florida - Brantley was carted off the field with a right leg injury against Alabama on Saturday, with what has now been deemed a high ankle sprain. The Gators get no rest this week, as they travel to Death Valley to face the top-ranked LSU Tigers. Even if Brantley plays, he is likely to face a stiff test, as the Tigers are allowing a puny 12.8 points per contest, good for ninth in the nation. A gimpy quarterback heading into one of the toughest places to play in the country is not exactly a recipe for success.
Jawan Jamison, RB, Rutgers - This is more of a matchup downgrade than anything else, as Jamison has become the workhorse out of the Scarlet Knight backfield, carrying the ball 53 times the last few weeks. However, Jamison averaged just 2.0 yards per carry at Syracuse last week and faces a rough and tumble Pittsburgh defense fresh off a 44-17 thrashing of then-ranked South Florida. With freshman Savon Huggins also lurking to snipe carries, Jamison might not be the best play this week.
Adonis Thomas, RB, Toledo - In case you were waiting on official word, Thomas will miss 4-6 weeks after having surgery to stabilize a fracture in his arm. Thomas rushed 37 times for 227 yards and three touchdowns in three games for the Rockets before succumbing to the injury. Morgan Williams has picked up the slack in Thomas's absence. The 5-11, 215, senior had 20 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown on Saturday against Temple.
Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt - Here comes the weekly "Do Not Play Skill Players Vs. Alabama" downgrade. Stacy rushed for 169 yards and a score against Ole Miss on Sept. 17, but managed just 18 yards on seven carries in a 21-3 loss to South Carolina the following week. He'll find even less room to roam in Tuscaloosa against Nick Saban's impressive defense, which held an explosive Florida squad to a mere 10 points. Alabama leads the nation in points allowed at a ridiculous 8.4 points per contest. Leave Stacy on the bench.