(Highlights from Wisconsin's win against UTEP courtesy of Wisconsinathletics)
As a whole, the Big Ten had yet another unremarkable weekend filled with lopsided victories over vastly inferior opponents or setbacks against quality nonconference opponents. Consider that Minnesota and Northwestern have four of the Big Ten's six nonconference victories against BCS opponents and it's easy to figure why 2012 is a down year. With that, here are the so-called Power Rankings:
1. No. 14 Ohio State (4-0): Braxton Miller didn't put on a dominating performance like the first three weeks and the Buckeyes didn't solidify the win over UAB until a late fourth-quarter touchdown run, but the Buckeyes are 4-0 heading into conference play. Last week's ranking: 1. Next up: at Michigan State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).
2. Northwestern (4-0): The Wildcats cruised 38-7 against South Dakota in their lone nonconference victory against an FCS school. Venric Mark continued to show why he's the most versatile player on the roster with 117 yards and three touchdowns. They moved up a spot because of the Spartans' struggles vs. Eastern Michigan. Big Ten play will be a better gauge of their talent. Last week's ranking: 3. Next up: vs. Indiana, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
3. No. 20 Michigan State (3-1): The Spartans trailed for the better part of three quarters against Eastern Michigan on Saturday but eventually pulled away with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Le'Veon Bell was dominant again with a career-high 253 rushing yards but the passing game is still a concern with the Buckeyes looming next week. Last week's ranking: 2. Next up: vs. Ohio State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).
4. No. 22 Nebraska (3-1): The Huskers got RB Rex Burkhead (119 yards, two touchdowns) back and smashed Idaho State 73-7. Nebraska rushed for a total of 385 yards but had 9 penalties for 104 yards. It won't be as easy against Wisconsin next week as the Badgers have allowed just 80 yards per game on the ground. Last week's ranking: 5. Next up: vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (ABC).
5. Minnesota (4-0): Shockingly, the Gophers didn't receive any top-25 votes after their 17-10 win over Syracuse even though Northwestern, Michigan, Wisconsin and Purdue all did. Donnell Kirkwood had 99 yards and two touchdowns and the defense was solid again, forcing four turnovers in the win. The Gophers have held teams to just 16.8 ppg thus far. Last week's ranking: 6. Next up: at Iowa, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
6. Michigan (2-2): Six turnovers against the Irish on Saturday night ultimately cost Michigan the Big Ten's last chance at a marquee victory. Denard Robinson accounted for 228 of 299 total yards in what has become a one-dimensional offense. Last week's ranking: 4. Next up: at Purdue, Saturday, Oct. 6, 4 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
7. Purdue (2-1): The Boilermakers didn't play this past weekend but in retrospect, they gave the No. 10 Irish their stiffest test of all three Big Ten opponents when they lost 20-17 in South Bend. Last week's ranking: 7. Next up: vs. Marshall, Saturday, 3:15 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
8. Wisconsin (3-1): The Badgers didn't convince anyone that they were back to their old ways after heading into the fourth quarter against UTEP up by just seven. After Montee Ball left the game with a head injury, backups Melvin Gordon and James White accounted for 177 yards and three touchdowns on just 22 carries. Last week's ranking: 8. Next up: at Nebraska, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (ABC).
9. Penn State (2-2): The Nittany Lions racked up 491 yards of total offense, including a career-high 318 passing yards from senior QB Matt McGloin, who is quietly putting together an outstanding season. He's tied for the league lead with nine touchdowns and leads the Big Ten with 1,006 yards through the air, all without a reliable running game to balance the attack. Last week's ranking: 11. Next up: at Illinois, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN).
10. Indiana (2-1): The Hoosiers, who are dealing with a number of injuries, got a timely off week and resume play next week in Evanston. Last week's ranking: 12. Next up: at Northwestern, 12 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network).
11. Iowa (2-2): There's really no easy way to say the Hawkeyes are having a disastrous season following their 32-31 loss to Central Michigan. The lone bright spot has been the emergence of RB Mark Weisman, who after rushing for 217 yards and three touchdowns vs. the Chippewas, has six scores in his last two games. Last week's ranking: 10. Next up: vs. Minnesota, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
12. Illinois (2-2): The upset pick of the day wasn't that tough to find. Louisiana Tech came in averaging 56 points and Illinois has struggled, putting up just 26.5 points per game. Injured quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase attempted to return from an ankle injury but struggled mightily and the Illini lost the ball up six times (five fumbles). Last week's ranking: 9. Next up: vs. Penn State, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN).
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.