One of the wildest developments in the Top 25 this week? The absence of any of the three major Florida schools in the rankings. Yes, the likes of Miami, Florida State and Florida do not appear in your handbook for the first time since 1982. Meanwhile, Illinois and Michigan are both 6-0, and so are the Houston Cougars behind fantasy dynamo Case Keenum. There are no such surprises at the top, though, as the cream continues to rise. Who else is simmering as the weather cools? Let's take a look in this week's Barometer.
Bryan Burnham, WR, Tulsa - The loss of Damaris Johnson has been the gain of Burnham, who has found the end zone in four of five games for the Golden Hurricane. He surpassed the 100-yard mark in Tulsa's last game on Oct. 1, hauling in six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown in a 41-24 victory over North Texas. Tulsa plays host to lowly UAB this weekend, as the Blazers are 0-5 and 96th in the nation in points allowed. Expect another big game from Burnham, G.J. Kinne and the rest of the Tulsa offense.
Daniel Herron, RB, Ohio State - Herron should play against Illinois this weekend after missing the first six games on the season for two different suspensions. The first was "Tattoo Gate," which involved Terrelle Pryor and eventually got Jim Tressel dismissed as coach of the Buckeyes. The second concerned "excessive compensation" for a summer job, in which Herron was allegedly overpaid for services rendered by $293. Although it remains to be seen if he is in game shape, Herron should give the Buckeyes the spark they need, particularly after dropping a heartbreaker to Nebraska a week ago.
Josh Harris, RB, Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons are one of this season's pleasant surprises, ripping off four consecutive wins since an overtime loss to Syracuse to begin the year. Last week, they dispatched Florida State behind 136 yards rushing from Harris. He accomplished that feat on just 13 carries, averaging 10.5 yards per carry. WFU's opponent this week, the Virginia Tech Hokies, surrendered 236 yards rushing to Lamar Miller and the rest of the Miami Hurricanes last week. Harris should find more success against the surprisingly suspect VaTech run defense.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State - Klein is an unconventional quarterback, as the Wildcats run a hybrid form of the option. Still, he's passed for six touchdowns this season, while rushing for seven more. He found the end zone three times against Mizzou on Saturday. K-State faces Texas Tech this Saturday, a squad that has allowed at least 34 points in each of its last three contests. In other words, this game has all the makings of a shootout in Manhattan, leaving Klein as a standout option.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon - James was carted off the field with a dislocated right elbow in Thursday's thrashing of Cal. He had 239 yards rushing and a score before departing with the injury. His status is unknown but would clearly be a monster blow to the Ducks and fantasy owners alike if he is ruled out. Kenjon Barner would receive the bulk of the carries should James, the Heisman hopeful, miss the contest with Arizona State.
Darrin Moore, WR, Texas Tech - Moore had a prolific start to the season for the Red Raiders. In the first game versus Texas State, Moore hauled in 12 balls for 221 yards and a touchdown. On Sept. 17 at New Mexico, Moore found the end zone three times. He hasn't recorded a catch since, though, as he suffered a knee/ankle injury on Sept. 24 against Nevada. Moore was almost set to go against Texas A&M, but couldn't make it onto the field. The Red Raiders definitely could use Moore's services against surprising 5-0 Kansas State this week.
Brandon Rutley, RB, San Jose State - An ankle sprain forced Rutley to miss Saturday's tilt at BYU. The Spartans could have used him, as Rutley had rushed 73 times for 426 yards and five touchdowns in the three games prior to that contest. SJSU has a short turnaround with a game Friday against Hawaii, so check to see if Rutley can make it onto the field against the Warriors. The Spartans could certainly use his 5.7 yards per carry.
Juron Criner, WR, Arizona - Criner has had an injury-plagued 2011 campaign. First, it was appendicitis. Then he suffered a hand injury. On Saturday, Criner had to leave the game due to a knee sprain. He likely will need more diagnostic testing to determine the extent of the damage. Criner has been limited of late as well, recording just five catches for 45 yards over his past two games. He'll get a slight break as the Wildcats do not play again until Oct. 20 at struggling UCLA, but make sure he is healthy before deploying him.
Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee - Bray hurt his right wrist and hand near the end on Saturday's game against Georgia. It turns out Bray's thumb is broken, meaning he'll miss 4-6 weeks for the Vols. Matt Simms will start in his stead, but Bray will be difficult to replace. Bray passed for 1,328 yards and 14 touchdowns in five games before the injury, while tossing just two interceptions. He finally appeared to be coming into his own, completing 68.5-percent of his passes. With Justin Hunter also out, Tennessee likely will lean on running back Tauren Poole even more. Wideout Da'Rick Rogers' value may also take a hit, due to a new quarterback and a lot of attention from opposing defenses. Did I mention Tennessee also plays LSU this week?
Damarlo Belcher, WR, Indiana - Belcher has been an extremely productive wideout for the Hoosiers over his four-year career. He caught 78 passes for 832 yards and four touchdowns last season. However, former teammate and No. 1 receiver Tandon Doss decided not to come back for his senior season and instead entered the NFL draft. Belcher also lost his quarterback in Ben Chappell to graduation. The result? Belcher has just 20 catches through six games for just 250 yards, just 41.7 receiving yards per game. With Indiana traveling to Wisconsin to face the highly-touted Badgers, Belcher may be best left on the bench.
Marshall Lobbestael, QB, Washington State - Lobbestael has been fairly impressive for Wazzu as a senior, completing 63.4-percent of his passes for 1,335 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, he has thrown four interceptions in his last three games against San Diego State, Colorado and UCLA, respectively. This week, the Cougars face Stanford, which is eighth in the nation in points against, allowing a mere 11.5 per tilt. Lobbestael has some use this season, but likely not in this scenario.
Danny O'Brien, QB, Maryland - O'Brien has gone from Terrapin darling to benchwarmer in the span of a few short weeks. The ACC Rookie of the Year in 2010, O'Brien has had a nightmare season in 2011. He tossed three interceptions against West Virginia on Sept. 17 and followed that with a dismal performance in a 38-7 loss to Temple. Last week against Georgia Tech, O'Brien started 1-for-6 for 17 yards and an interception and was subsequently yanked in favor of fellow sophomore C.J. Brown. Although Brown was abysmal in his own right, whoever starts this week at quarterback for Maryland will have to face a red-hot Clemson squad. With such uncertainty, it's best to look elsewhere.