It was an interesting weekend for the conference.
The Big Ten finished 12-2, with its only losses coming from -- spoiler alert -- the two worst teams in our power rankings. But other games against inferior opponents were closer than we anticipated, which led to some minor shake-ups in our weekly rankings. Take a look:
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0): They're back on top after a brief stay at No. 2. Quarterback Cardale Jones was "OK" in the 38-12 win over Western Michigan, according to coach Urban Meyer, but more is expected out of him. Still, this game was a step forward and showed us enough to put the Buckeyes back at No. 1.
2. Michigan State Spartans (4-0): How many more injuries can these Spartans withstand? Linebacker Ed Davis and cornerback Vayante Copeland are out for the season, and offensive tackle Jack Conklin now has a knee injury. Sure, they beat Central Michigan 30-10, but they had just a seven-point advantage heading into the final quarter. Something might have to give, eventually.
3. Northwestern Wildcats (4-0): Clayton Thorson finally looked like a former Elite 11 quarterback in the second half. If the Wildcats can find some offense, the rest of the nation had better keep an eye on this team. The 24-19 win over Ball State wasn't exactly convincing, but the Wildcats have impressed this season.
4. Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0): Kirk Ferentz's squad has been the definition of average for -- well, a long time. But it's been anything but this season. The Hawkeyes demolished North Texas 62-16, as QB C.J. Beathard turned in a near-perfect game. Ferentz clearly picked the right quarterback here, and at this rate, no one would be surprised to see Iowa playing in the B1G title game.
5. Wisconsin Badgers (3-1): The good news? Taiwan Deal rushed for 147 yards and showed the Badgers can still have a running game in their 28-0 win over Hawaii. The bad news? Corey Clement is still out four to six weeks and the Badgers have two incredibly important games the next two weeks -- Iowa and Nebraska.
6. Michigan Wolverines (3-1): One voting point separated U-M from UW, as these Wolverines just keep climbing the rankings. Coach Jim Harbaugh has done a superb job so far, and this defense is elite. Most of us picked Michigan to beat BYU, but none of us expected a 31-0 shutout. These Wolverines should provide a strong challenge for Ohio State and Michigan State.
7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-1): They keep on winning in dramatic fashion -- but games like the 27-24 win over Ohio shouldn't be so close. Mitch Leidner needs to build off this win and get the offense clicking or he'll get a cold reception in the city that sees an annual snowfall of nearly 4 feet.
8. Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-2): Whatever bonus points Mike Riley's team earned last week after valiantly fighting back against Miami, it lost Saturday when Southern Miss scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns and nearly rallied in the Huskers' 36-28 win. Nebraska's transition isn't going as smoothly as most of us thought, and it'll need to step up in the conference season.
9. Indiana Hoosiers (4-0): Three of their four wins have been decided by one, three and three points -- and the competition hasn't exactly been strong. That being said, the Hoosiers still deserve a lot of credit for their 31-24 win over Wake Forest. And IU could earn a lot of respect next Saturday by hanging tough against Ohio State.
10. Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1): They needed 323-pound Austin Johnson to scoop up a fourth-quarter fumble and return it for a 71-yard TD to put this game out of reach. They beat San Diego State, 37-21, and they face another cupcake opponent next week (Army). That's just not terribly impressive. On the plus side, Christian Hackenberg looked good -- and this team could be a force with a passing game.
11. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1): Outside of North Carolina, Bill Cubit's team really hasn't been tested much -- but that'll change soon. The Illini next face Nebraska, Iowa and then Wisconsin. They needed a last-minute 51-yard field goal to beat Middle Tennessee 27-25, so there's a lot of room to improve when the conference season starts up.
12. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-2): They beat one of the worst teams in college football, Kansas, by a score of 27-14. But what does that prove, exactly? OK, this team isn't the worst team in the Power 5 ... but it's still not very good. Its best defensive player, Darius Hamilton, is now out for the season. And, as of now, it's still without its top offensive threat in Leonte Carroo.
13. Purdue Boilermakers (1-3): Purdue snatched defeat from the jaws of victory Saturday, as its two missed short field goals led to Bowling Green TDs in the 35-28 loss. Redshirt freshman David Blough at least impressed in his first career start, and Purdue might win another game this season if he keeps playing like that.
14. Maryland Terrapins (2-2): Where do we even begin? Caleb Rowe finished 10-of-27 for 67 yards and four interceptions before he was yanked in favor of Daxx Garman, who threw only one interception in nine attempts. Only. Maryland looked all kinds of bad in its 45-6 loss to West Virginia, and it'll probably be an underdog in every game it plays from here on out.