Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Rittenberg joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four years at the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald, where he covered sports at Notre Dame, Northwestern, DePaul and several other colleges. He lives in Chicago.
Send your questions now and join Rittenberg in The Show at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday!
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here right on time for a change. Exciting week around the Big Ten and college football. Fire away!
Hey Adam, I read in your blog that you think MSU-ND will be a close game. When making that prediction, how did you assume Brian Hoyer would play? I personally think that if he has an OK day, MSU will run over ND, and if he's bad, it'll be a close game. After watching UM-ND last weekend, I think Ringer is going to run all over the Irish, the question is whether Hoyer can connect with Dell and Cunningham. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
As good as Ringer is, Hoyer will need to make a play or two to win the game. We're still waiting to see if he can lift Michigan State to a clutch win. Notre Dame would be foolish not to crowd the box and make Hoyer beat them. Like you point out, he has the receivers to do so.
JP from Milwaukee, WI
Adam, Love the blog, what a great resource! In several past weeks, you said you underestimated Iowa's defense, yet in this week's pick, you give Pitt 20 points. Everyone knows Iowa hasn't had great competition, but when you don't allow a TD in 3 games, you're doing something right. Did something change? Is McCoy really that good?
Adam Rittenberg (1:03 PM)
Thanks, JP. I've been really impressed with Iowa's defense but can't put too much stock in wins against Maine and FIU. The Iowa State effort was strong, but the Cylcones aren't an offensive juggernaut. McCoy is very good and Pitt will be a desperate team on Saturday. The Panthers really need a win to avoid being labeled a total bust. They'll come out strong, but Iowa shuts them down just enough to win.
Chris (bountiful, UT)
How do you think the MWC stacks up against the Big East, ACC, and Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
The key for the MWC wasn't BYU or Utah winning, but some of the lower-tier teams like UNLV posting big wins. That's the biggest difference separating the non-BCS leagues from their BCS counterparts. I'd put the MWC ahead of the Big East and the ACC, though both leagues are doing a bit better recently. The Big Ten needs a good week to stay ahead of the MWC.
Any hope of a resolution to the Evans and Koroma situation at PSU in the near future? How far can the Lions go in the Big10 with a depleted D-Line?
Adam Rittenberg (1:06 PM)
My guess is Joe Paterno will wait until the school disciplines the two players before handing down his punishment. They should miss at least another game or two, but not the rest of the season. With many teams, that type of offense is a two-game suspension at the most, especially for first-time offenders. But you're right, Penn State can't hang on much longer with so little depth on the line, especially at the tackle spot.
Nick (Fort Myers, FL)
Adam, What is your take on the FSU/Wake matchup this weekend. Can Florida State continue to rack up high numbers on offense, or will Wake bring them down to Earth.
Adam Rittenberg (1:07 PM)
FSU doesn't lack confidence, but it could come back to haunt them against a very well-coached Wake team. I see the game in the low 30s with Wake pulling out a hard-fought win
Steve Kansas City
Adam, your prediction for Iowa over PITT seems to be based more off of lack of faith in Wanny than Iowa being able to control the tempo with the D. Do you think the fast track(compared last weekend in the Iowa City slop) favors Iowa or PITT
Adam Rittenberg (1:08 PM)
Well, Steve, I do live in Chicago, so we don't think too highly of Wanny around here. The thing to remember is that Iowa has a pretty good running back, too, in Shonn Greene. If Iowa's defensive line, led by King and Kroul, contains McCoy enough, the Hawkeyes should escape with a win.
Elia from Missouri
Adam, love the blog. Looking at the Big Ten so far this year, and seeing into your crystal ball, where do you see Northwestern landing come bowl time?
Adam Rittenberg (1:09 PM)
Thanks, Elia. The Wildcats need to get through the non-league schedule unscathed for the first time since 1963. If they do that, seven or eight wins is definitely within reach. The Insight Bowl usually likes offensive-oriented teams, and Northwestern certainly has been one. So that's a good spot.
Steve (New Brunswick, NJ)
So Michigan is having it's "Notre Dame of 2007" season this year. Will things be much better in 2009?
Adam Rittenberg (1:10 PM)
Yes, they will, and though the comparison with ND of '07 is certainly fair at this point, Michigan will be better than 3-9. The Wolverines have a running game with McGuffie, whereas Notre Dame had none last year. And the Wolverines' defense is stronger than the Irish in '07.
Adam, Wisconsin's Casillas was charged with a DUI on a mo-ped, but a DUI none the less. And the 2 PSU players were charged with misdimenor marijuana possesion. Now the PSU players have been held accountable for their actions ever since the issue happened, even before charges were brought against them. Yet when someone is charged with DUI which not only endangers themselves but others they are not even held out of one game(being out for injury doesn't or should not count)? (Yeah it was on a Mo-ped which doesnt so much effect other people but, you are still taking a chance with your own life). What are your feelings on these 2 cases and how they should be handled from a coaching standpoint? Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (1:12 PM)
Mike, not to get too off topic, but I think DUI's get handled way too lightly, no matter if they involve football players or not. It's a much more dangerous crime than what the two PSU players face. Then again, Penn State needs to be firm in its response because of everything that has happened in the last year. Judging by Paterno's recent punishments for players, I think he'll come down fairly hard on Evans and Koroma.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Is it me or should Ohio St. play Pryor the majority of the time? After seeing him play versus USC, I really think he should be the man, he brings so much to the table offensively, and has a really good arm.
Adam Rittenberg (1:13 PM)
He gives Ohio State a degree of unpredictability it has lacked in recent seasons. He makes defensive coordinators adjust their game plans a little more. I'm still not sold on him as a passer, but he's so physically gifted and surprisingly has picked up the system fast. So yes, play him more.
Ryan (StL, MO)
Hey Adam--are you (and your media colleagues) just about sick of Tressel's Bellichick-esqe handling of Beanie's injury? I mean, 3 weeks later and *what* exactly was his injury again...
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
Ryan, I definitely share in your frustrations. This week is shaping up a lot like last week, where we might not know much until game time or the day before. If it's turf toe, they probably don't want to come out and say it because it sounds bad. But it could just be a hard-to-define injury. Who knows?
Adam, I live in Ohio and I am a big fan of Michigan. I was just wondering what your take is on the emergence of Sam McGuffie as the featured back in the spread, and also if you think that the big front four on defense lead by Brandon Graham and Terrance Taylor, will be able to put enough pressure on the Everidge and PJ Hill to keep the Wolverines in the game next week against the Badgers.
Adam Rittenberg (1:15 PM)
Michigan has struggled so far, but I definitely see next week's game as a potential trap for Wisconsin. McGuffie looks like a solid back, but he'll face a much tougher defensive line in the Badgers' front four. You hit it on the head, though. The key for Michigan will be the D-line containing Hill, Brown and Clay, and keeping the game low-scoring.
Adam, I keep telling Wolverines that they had it really good with Lloyd Carr but I think App. State made them crazy or something. They keep making excuses for Rodriguez but don't you think Carr deserved more credit than he got?
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
Carr had a tremendous overall record and never let Michigan slip too far, but I didn't mind the change. The game is changing, offenses are spreading out and becoming more creative, speed is in. Give Rich time and he'll get that program in the Top 10 every year.
What do you think of that Big Ten commerical with JoePa saying "Come to Pennnnn Statttttee"? Awesome?
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
Creepy. Definitely creepy.
So then in your opinion is what Bielema's punishment(whatever that was) enough for Casillas actions?
Adam Rittenberg (1:18 PM)
Mike, it's a bit tricky to say, given that we don't know what the punishment actually was and, more important, Casillas sat out the first two games with injuries. So it's hard to tell whether he would have sat out anyway after the DUI. My guess is he would have missed the opener no matter what.
Jason (Brooklyn, NJ)
Hi Adam, love the blog. Was OSU exposed for being way overrated or is USC just that good. Based on the players that the Bucs have, they should have at least kept it close.
Adam Rittenberg (1:19 PM)
Ohio State was exposed to having more issues than Beanie Wells' absence. The offensive line has vastly underperformed, and the defense just couldn't get to Sanchez enough. USC is that good, but a lot of us misread Ohio State.
Do you think Dantonio is going to build MSU into a perenial contender? He seems to have the Spartans headed in the right direction on the field and possibly more importantly he's recruiting very well (top 10 class for 2009).
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
He's got the right attitude and has improved recruiting dramatically for 2009. Coupled with the fact they just opened their new football facility -- which is very impressive -- and MSU should be in the Big Ten title mix pretty soon. Next year could be tough, though, with the loss of Ringer.
This is the fourth week of the Season and I still hear commentators and the ESPN anchors talking about USC's win over UVA, a bad team in a poor conf. UConn held UVA to fewer points than USC. Is UVA that good?
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
No. That's a bad football team. But USC deserves credit for two blowouts.
Drew (Greensboro, NC)
Can PJ Hill stay healthy this season? Although Brown and Clay have stepped it up, Hill is still the backbone of Wisconsin's smashmouth offense.
Adam Rittenberg (1:22 PM)
Drew, I spoke to P.J. about this very topic last week. Getting through an entire offseason healthy was a key first step. He says he's taken a different approach in games to reduce big hits. He still looks for contact, but not as much as he did in 2006. I agree with you that Hill is the key to that offense.
if OSU goes 11-1 with lone loss at USC, can it still play the NC??
Adam Rittenberg (1:23 PM)
Nope. Out of the question. You can't lose like that, no matter what point of the season, and expect to get another chance. If the game had been close and Wells didn't play, there would be an argument. But not any more.
Dave (East Lansing)
Who do you think is MSU's starting QB next year? Do you think OU transfer Nichol will be the guy?
Adam Rittenberg (1:24 PM)
Dave, good question. That should be a fascinating QB battle between Nichol and Kirk Cousins. Cousins certainly has the personality to lead that team and be the front man, but Nichol didn't transfer to sit on the bench. My guess is it'll be Cousins, but too soon to tell.
Adam I know you have not always been a fan but how do you think Penn State will fair in the big 11 this year
Adam Rittenberg (1:25 PM)
Pete, I'm actually very high on the Lions this season. How can you not be? They haven't played anybody, but the offense looks tremendous behind Daryll Clark. The key will be two road games against Wisconsin and Ohio State. If Penn State survives those, the sky's the limit.
Hey Adam...please tell me you're the one analyst at ESPN that won't give credit to ND for their "win" against Michigan. Being outgained by 130 in a game that you were given the ball 6(!!) times is downright embarassing. If UM turns the ball over only 4 times, they probably win that game. And it's not exactly like the turnovers were "forced" or anything...
Adam Rittenberg (1:26 PM)
Notre Dame always gets too much credit for wins and too much blame for losses (God, I sound like a coach). The Irish did some very encouraging things in that game, but Michigan totally gave it away. ND can't expect seven turnovers from Javon Ringer and co. on Saturday.
Adam, great links and posts on the blog. As an Ohio State student and fan, both the offense and defense have looked unimaginative and uninspired. Do you think its a problem with the coaches or are the players not executing? Will this team be able to run the table and make the Rose Bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (1:27 PM)
That's a good question, Marc. I think it could be a mixture of both. The players might not have enough faith in the coaches, and therefore it affects their execution. It happened to an extent with Northwestern before they changed defensive coordinators. Ohio State is definitely behind the curve in terms of imagination, and that could come up this offseason when evaluating the program.
Bernard (Princeton, NJ)
If PSU or Wisconsin run the table will they be left out of a national champsionship game over a one loss SEC or Big 12 team? If yes, does all the blame go on the Buckeyes?
Adam Rittenberg (1:29 PM)
I can't see Wisconsin being left out of the title game if undefeated. That's where the risk-reward of traveling to Fresno State pays off. Penn State is an interesting team. The Lions haven't gotten much respect so far in the polls, and their non-league schedule doesn't help. But beating Ohio State and Wisconsin on the road to run the table should be enough, even against a 1-loss SEC team.
Adam, how do you see Purdue doing in the conference schedule this year. They played to the wire against a now 12th ranked Oregon team and still noone seems to think the Boilers will be any good.
Adam Rittenberg (1:30 PM)
I really thought they had Oregon last week. It would have been such a big win, would have given Tiller the record, would have given Curtis Painter a signature victory. And I came away saying, 'Same ol' Purdue." That said, the defense looks much better, especially in the secondary with King, Duong and Williams. If they get more consistent play from Painter in big games, Purdue could definitely do some damage.
Would it be incorrect to say that Mendenhall made much more of an impact on the Illini team than Juice and Benn do right now. Or is it that they all clicked together and are now only sputtering to life this season?
Adam Rittenberg (1:31 PM)
No, you're right, Mendenhall was absolutely huge for that team. One of my former colleagues who covered the Illini told me as much before the season, and I didn't believe him. But you can see it now. Mendenhall and J Leman made a huge difference.
Aaron (St. Louis)
After seeing Utah beat Michigan in the Big House, how do you think the top teams in the MWC (BYU, Utah, TCU) would finish in the Big 10?
Adam Rittenberg (1:32 PM)
I could see all three teams finishing in the top six. Not all three are better than Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin, but those are three solid squads.
Beanie (Columbus OH)
Any chance I should come back for my senior season and make another run at the heisman and a national championship.
Adam Rittenberg (1:33 PM)
Hey Beanie, how's the toe? Yeah, you'll definitely be back as a senior. And you'll have a great season alongside Terrelle Pryor.
Sorry Adam... but if a team like UGA loses 1 game (lets say @ LSU) but wins the SEC they will absolutely go to the NC game over WIS or PSU. That would mean UGA won at ASU, Florida and Auburn and beat Bama and TN at home plus won the SEC title game. And you think PSU wins @ OSU and WIS trump that? No way.
Adam Rittenberg (1:34 PM)
CC, you very well might be right, but it's awfully hard to keep an undefeated team out of the title game. Like I said, I think Wisconsin has an easier path than Penn State because of the Fresno State win, but it'd be tough to keep Georgia out as well with only 1 loss.
Tony (Newport News, VA)
Adam, what do you think about the game tonight on ESPN, WVU vs. Col..?
Adam Rittenberg (1:35 PM)
This should be a good one. West Virginia doesn't expect the altitude to come into play, but it'll be interesting to watch. This is a huge game for Dan Hawkins and the Buffaloes to make a statement, even though West Virginia isn't the powerhouse it usually is.
Is Jordan Norwood the most underrated player in the Big 10? He just makes play after play.
Adam Rittenberg (1:36 PM)
He's had a great year, Rob. Doesn't get nearly enough attention alongside Derrick Williams and Deon Butler. A solid receiver, and from what I understand, a great kid.
What kind of bowl do you predict for the Illini? Another BCS Bowl? January 1st? Or something worse? The schedule is brutal, but I predict at least two wins in the three main games (@ Wisc, @ Penn St and vs OSU.
Adam Rittenberg (1:37 PM)
I don't know what to think about Illinois right now. The way they've played so far, they'll get crushed next week in Happy Valley. There's no doubt the talent is there, but a veteran defensive line will need to be MUCH better against Clark, Royster and Green. ... I'd put the Illini in the Alamo Bowl right now, if I had to guess.
When will Tressel replace Boeckman with Pryor? As a PSU alum we wish we got him and as so far as I have seen he does have the stuff but just needs to be thrown out into the mix a little more with the full backing of his coaches and players.
Adam Rittenberg (1:38 PM)
I don't know if Pryor will flat-out replace Boeckman at any point, especially since the next two games are pretty easy and the offense should get on track. But Tressel now has the confidence to play Pryor in pressure situations on the road. That could loom large when Ohio State visits Wisconsin on Oct. 4.
Tony (Newport News, VA)
Back to the game tonight... So does that mean you are picking Colorado to win..? Score prediction..?
Adam Rittenberg (1:39 PM)
Nah, I think West Virginia takes it. I'm still a big Pat White fan, and he'll step up.
Jeremy (Iowa City)
Any word on the Iowa Board of Regents decision about the two Iowa players sexual assualt?
Adam Rittenberg (1:40 PM)
The meeting is supposed to take place this afternoon, so check the blog later for an update.
What game are covering this weekend?
Adam Rittenberg (1:40 PM)
I'll be in East Lansing for Michigan State-Notre Dame.
Can a one lose Fresno St team still be a BCS buster? I mean losing to Wisconsin and lets say Wisconsin runs the table and wins the Big Ten. And if Fresno St wins the WAC could they have a chance at a BCS bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (1:41 PM)
No, they're out of the BCS picture. Coach Pat Hill acknowledged as much after the game. But a WAC title would be huge for that team, especially since Boise State might be a little down this year.
Tyler: (Los Angeles)
Even though I am an SC student, I have always been curious about PSU's Derrick Williams. He came in with so much hype as the top player in his class. Is he not as talented as people thought he'd be or is he lacking touches???
Adam Rittenberg (1:42 PM)
The injury in 2005 set him back a bit, but I think if Williams played his whole career in this style of offense, he'd be an All-American. He was hurt by the style of play the last two seasons and should finish strong this fall.
How many games Washington will win this season and should they finish 7-5 is that enough keep Ty Willingham another year.
Adam Rittenberg (1:43 PM)
Seven wins would keep Ty in Seattle. But the Huskies won't get close to that number. He gone.
Andrew (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)
Adam, I am jealous you get to be in E.L. for the game. Will you report back on your blog and tell this old alum that MSU still has the best tailgate?
Adam Rittenberg (1:44 PM)
Absolutely! Any parking lots you recommend? I haven't been able to stop by too many tailgates yet this fall, but I'll make sure to do so Saturday.
Fulmer (Rocky Top)
Any suggestions on stopping Percy Harvin or Tebow--?
Adam Rittenberg (1:44 PM)
Tell them kickoff is four hours after it actually is and hope they don't show up.
If either PSU or WI win out, do you think either of them could pass USC or OK to play in the championship game? Or are USC and OK just too good to hang with this year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:45 PM)
If both USC and Oklahoma win out, neither Big Ten team will pass them. That's where the Ohio State loss hurts the league.
Should Tiller get just as much blame as Painter. I was at the game and every play had no route go past 10 yards so the D just stacked it in and Purdue was averaging 6 yards a carry but still Purdue tried to pass the ball when setting up for the winning FG and in OT.
Adam Rittenberg (1:46 PM)
Levin, Purdue's spread offense is, by design, a short-pass-oriented scheme. But without guys like Dustin Keller, it's harder for them to take shots down the field. I would have liked to have seen a little more running. Kory Sheets showed when you give him a crease, he can outrun a fast defense.
cody (provo, UT)
As a student at BYU, i must say the buzz here is nonstop! Even in the valley with Utah as well. what would it take for the mountain west to be considered as the Big east was as a BCS conference? Who do you think will win the "holy war" this year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:47 PM)
The BYU-Utah game should be one of the best this season. It'll be a while, unfortunately, before the Mountain West to get BCS consideration, but if either of those teams runs the table, they'll get into a big bowl.
So when do the Notre Dame "return to glory" articles start? Some of their message boards already have them winning out until the USC game...
Adam Rittenberg (1:48 PM)
If the Irish win this weekend, look out. The schedule is definitely more favorable, but there's no chance that team wins more than seven or eight games. Still too many issues.
Hey Adam, I know it's kind of early, but got any Heisman picks?
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
I like Tebow until he proves otherwise.
So the problems with the way the Big Ten is looked at Nationwide is all on OSU?? What a joke that is!!!
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
It's sad, but true. That's why it's important for Penn State to continue putting up big numbers and for Wisconsin to keep winning. The rest of the league has to show that it's more than just Ohio State.
Jan from Washington DC
Adam, Loved your piece on Ringer that you just posted. With all of the attention that Javon has been receiving lately based on his gaudy numbers in the first two games, what do you expect Tenuta and Corwin Brown to do to contain him? Do you think heavy run blitzing and stacking 8-9 in the box should lead Treadwell to call on Hoyer to air it out early and often to Dell and Cunningham, looking for single coverage?
Adam Rittenberg (1:51 PM)
Thanks, Jan. I can't see how Notre Dame doesn't stack the box and dare Brian Hoyer to beat them. Michigan State has done a great job of controlling the clock and can just wear down the defensive line with Ringer. I'm sure Tenuta and Brown will do whatever they can to make Michigan State throw the ball.
Richard (Birmingham, AL)
Will Auburn score more than 3 points this weekend? And if so, will LSU score more than 2?
Adam Rittenberg (1:52 PM)
That's an interesting question. But it always seems like when we least expect it, we get an offensive shootout. So I'll say the game is in the high 20s or low 30s.
Lou (Bethesda, MD)
The rest of the league already was more than just Ohio State, but the pundits and pollsters refuse to take that into account until something "big" happens like OSU-USC. It's a very tough league to play in, simply put. Somehow, the pundits have turned that into this glaring weakness...
Adam Rittenberg (1:54 PM)
Well, when a collapses multiple times in national showcase games but continues to dominate the league, it's hard not to see the pundits' point. That's why it's so important for Wisconsin and Penn State -- Iowa, Illinois and Michigan State, too -- to step up
Jeff (Berryville, VA)
If Penn State or Wisconsin beat OSU this year I think it should definitely show the nation that there is more to the Big Ten than just the Buckeyes. If both teams lose to OSU, however, then it could turn ugly for the Big Ten. Agree?
Adam Rittenberg (1:55 PM)
The worst thing for the league would be for Ohio State to dominate the rest of the season and then lose badly in the Rose Bowl. If the Buckeyes redeem themselves with a Rose Bowl win, that's another story. But I'm sure the Big Ten would rather have Penn State or Wisconsin do bigger things.
Ben (Greenville, SC)
Hey Adam, what can I tell the rest of these Clemson fans who having been standing at the edge of the cliff since the end of the Alabama game? Will they still win the ACC in your mind?
Adam Rittenberg (1:56 PM)
They still should, though history certainly goes against them. Clemson looks much stronger than any other ACC team but lacks the intangibles, toughness, or something to get over the hump. But there's still plenty to play for.
cody (provo, UT)
OSU....the buffalo bills of college football. What a joke. agree?
Adam Rittenberg (1:57 PM)
It's turning out like that, though the Buckeyes don't have a Scott Norwood yet.
Why is it that when Auburn beats a HORRIBLE Miss St team 3-2 it's a "sign of how deep the SEC is" instead of that Auburn is overrated?
Adam Rittenberg (1:58 PM)
Well, Auburn has a chance to show whether it's overrated or not this weekend. That's the beauty of the college football regular season.
Jeremy (Iowa City)
Why does the media say that JoePa must go because of off-the-incidents while not clamouring that Kirk Ferentz needs to go for significantly more and worse off-the-field incidents?
Adam Rittenberg (1:58 PM)
There's been some clamoring in Iowa City. It's just not noticed as much because it's Iowa. But both coaches look to have their teams on the right track, and unfortunately, winning is all that matters.
Todd (Hutchinson, KS)
Hey Adam, is the Spread HD offense enough to beat high calibre defenses like OSU and other Big 10 teams? Could it beat a FBS Bowl series team?
Adam Rittenberg (1:59 PM)
We'll have to wait and see, but it certainly gives Penn State a great chance in every game. The system utilizes all of Penn State's weapons, unlike the offense run the last two seasons.
Adam Rittenberg (2:00 PM)
OK guys, looks like my time is up. Enjoyed it. Same time, same place next week!