Brent Yarina, Senior Editor, September 24, 2012

With Week 4 behind us, it's time for my latest Big Ten Player Rankings. Again, I'm doing these a little different this year. Whereas I used to rank the top 10 players – a practice that was tough due to all the talent on both sides of the ball – I'll rank the top six offensive and defensive players each week.

Why six of both? Because it opens up the field, plus there are six teams in each division. So, consider offense the Legends Division and the defense the Leaders Division, or vice versa.

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – Even on Miller's off days, he's effective and incredibly dynamic. While the sophomore failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time Saturday, he still scored twice on the ground, his Big Ten-leading sixth and seventh such scores of the season.
Week 4 stats: 12-20, 143 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT; 11 car., 64 yards, 2 TD | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: No. 1

[RELATED: Tom Dienhart's Week 5 Power Rankings]

2. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State – There might not be a more complete back in the Big Ten, and without Bell carrying the load against Boise State and Eastern Michigan (80 car., 463 yards, 3 TD in the two games) it isn't crazy to think the Spartans could be 1-3 instead of 3-1.
Week 4 stats: 36 car., 253 yards 1 TD; 1 rec., minus-8 yards | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: No. 5

Venric Mark

3. Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern – Four weeks of strong play proves this guy is legit – not to mention makes the case for him being Northwestern's best running back since Tyrell Sutton. Only question is, can the diminutive back remain healthy and effective in Big Ten play?
Week 4 stats: 16 car., 117 yards, 3 TD; 1 rec., 3 yards | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: No. 6

4. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State – Another week, another strong performance for the Big Ten's top wide receiver. Again, it's amazing how consistent and successful Robinson has been when every opponent knows he's Penn State's biggest threat.
Week 4 stats: 5 rec., 81 yards, 1 TD | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: No. 3

[RELATED:'s All-Big Ten non-conference teams]

5. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska – This is not last year's Taylor Martinez. The junior quarterback is efficient, looks comfortable throwing the ball and takes advantage of the bevy of talented weapons at his disposal.
Week 4 stats: 9-13, 165 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; 7 car., 15 yards | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: No. 4

6. Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa – Thought Week 3's 113 yards and three touchdowns were a fluke? Hardly. The bruising back was even better Saturday, stiff-arming his way to 217 yards and three more touchdowns (Watch the stiff-arms).
Week 4 stats: 27 car., 217 yards, 3 TD | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: NR

Next in line: Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska
Dropped out: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

T1. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue – Short and the Boilers were off Saturday, one of two Big Ten teams on a bye, and they return to action Saturday against Marshall.
Week 4 stats: Bye
Previous ranking: No. 1

T-1. Derrick Wells, S, Minnesota – Wells didn't lead the Gophers in tackles for the first time Saturday, however he registered a respectable six stops and helped limit Syracuse's prolific QB Ryan Nassib to 228 yards and one touchdown.
Week 4 stats:
6 tackles, 0.5 TFL
Previous ranking:
No. 5

[RELATED: Dienhart's Week 5 Bowl Projections]

Michael Mauti

3. Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State – The leader and early star of Penn State's underrated defense, Mauti is making plays, including momentum-changing ones, all over the field.
Week 4 stats: 9 tackles, 1 FF, 1 pass breakup
Previous ranking: No. 3

4. Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – Hageman continues to do his share of damage, but his mere presence creates favorable pass-rushing opportunities for D.L. Wilhite and the rest of Minnesota's improved defensive front.
Week 4 stats: 4 tackles, 1 FF
Previous ranking: No. 2

5. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin – Borland compiled one of the Big Ten's best statistical lines of the season Saturday, highlighted by a pair of sacks and 3.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Week 4 stats: 12 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2 pass breakups, 2 sacks
Previous ranking: NR

[RELATED: Badgers, Huskers to wear alternate uniforms Saturday]

6. Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State – Hankins entered Saturday's game with 15 tackles. He tallied 10 against UAB – an effort that gives Ohio State's strong, but underperforming, d-line confidence heading into Big Ten action.
Week 4 stats: 10 tackles, 0.5 TFL
Previous ranking: NR

Next in line: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
Dropped out: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men's basketball for He writes the popular uniform feature "Clothes Call," which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his latest work here. You can subscribe to Yarina's RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.