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 (12:59 PM)
Hey guys, hope everyone's having a good week. I cover the Big Ten, but I'm happy to take questions about all things college football. I've got about 45 minutes for ya, so let's begin!
If PSU wins out, is there still a chance they could be left out of the BCS title game for a 1 loss SEC/Big12/USC team? You think the pollsters would do that based on the Big Ten's poor reputation?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
They could be left out if Alabama and a Big 12 team (Texas) run the table, but there's no way USC jumps Penn State. The Big Ten is a superior league and Penn State beat Oregon State.
Ben (Riverton, UT)
IF Byu stomps on TCU tonight, do they jump a in the coaches poll.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
I would hope so, Ben. As ESPN.com's former non-BCS guy, I really pull for teams like BYU. It's hard because Washington and UCLA aren't as strong as normal, so those wins don't impress the voters as much, but BYU should definitely move up with a win tonight.
David (Portland, OR)
Adam, with Lawrence Wilson going down, do the Buckeyes have any shot at keeping Ringer under 100 yards? What do you see as a final score?
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
Ringer can get his 100-130 yards, as long as he does so with 35-40 carries. The key for Ohio State will be limiting big plays and forcing Brian Hoyer into mistakes. Hoyer has been much better in recent weeks -- he played an extremely smart game against Northwestern -- so the Buckeyes can't let him beat them.
Nathan, Manhattan, KS
I've been watching almost every college football show on tv and Penn State gets barely talked about, if at all! Basic comment is the Big Ten is weak... Could it be that Penn State is just that good?
Adam Rittenberg (1:03 PM)
It could be, but a lot of people won't believe it until the bowl game. The thing about Penn State that sets it apart from the Big Ten is Paterno wins bowl games. Look at the record. It's hard to argue. So if Penn State gets to the title game, you've got to like the chances.
Matt (St. Paul)
Adam, as a Gopher fan I'm trying to stay cautious, but I can't help myself...is a 10 win season a possibility this year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:04 PM)
The schedule is pretty favorable the rest of the way, and if Minnesota keeps up its incredible turnover margin, nine or 10 wins isn't out of the question. My sense is the Gophers will have a slide at some point, so eight wins is where I'll put them.
Justin Royal Oak, MI
Say Michigan State wins saturday, do you see them going undefeated into Happy Valley? I am still not a true believer that this team has the talent to do it, but with the remaining schedule and the comforts of home against losing big ten teams has to irk the question...MSU big ten champs?
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
In terms of playing as a team, no one does it better in the Big Ten than MSU (and probably Penn State). The post-Ohio State schedule is favorable, as long as Michigan State finally takes care of Michigan. I can't see the Spartans beating Penn State on the road, but they could certainly go in with one loss.
To quote you "Ringer can get his 100-130 yards, as long as he does so with 35-40 carries" If ringer gets 35-40 carries that would more then likely mean that MSU ahead and not behind in the game, just an observation.
Adam Rittenberg (1:06 PM)
True, but it could also mean he's averaging 3 yards a carry, which has been the case lately (they're still winning). I just think it's important for Ohio State to make Michigan State one-dimensional, take away Hoyer and the passing attack.
Joe (Plainsboro, NJ)
Is Pitt your pick to win the Big East this year? Do you have them beating Navy this week?
Adam Rittenberg (1:07 PM)
Wow, Joe, I've been burned by Wanny before, but they look like a much better team than they did at the beginning of the year. I'll still stick with South Florida, but Pitt could sneak in there and take it. I'm impressed with Cincinnati -- Brian Kelly is a phenomenal coach -- but I don't think they'll keep this up.
Im kind of dissapointed in Zook i thought they were going to be better than they are they have better athletes but it seems they dont have any organization
Adam Rittenberg (1:08 PM)
The athletes are there on offense, but they lost a lot on defense, especially in the core of the defense (DT, MLB, FS, SS). Those players are hard to replace in one year, and the defensive line, quite frankly, has been a major disappointment.
Hey, Adam, what's up? Just a couple of years ago I was in Evanston watching C.J. Bacher blossom into the next Brett Basanez...what happened to that guy?
Adam Rittenberg (1:09 PM)
He hasn't made the strides seniors normally make. His footwork is still terrible and many of his throws are high risk, high reward. The kid's got a great arm, but the know-how that comes with playing a lot of games just isn't there with him.
Blair - Chicago
Would you please tell my fellow Wolverine fans to flippin' relax and let the system develop? Yeah, this year blows. But three years down the road is going to be a much different story. That said, the loss last weekend was inexcusable.
Adam Rittenberg (1:10 PM)
Flippin relax and let the system develop! You're right, Blair. Rodriguez is a proven winner and he'll be fine. Years like this one are becoming more and more common for so-called powerhouse programs (see Notre Dame of 2007, Penn State of 2003).
Adam...how do you see MSU trying to attack OSU offensively? I'm sure they'll stack the box against Ringer, so will Hoyer have to take advantage of 1 on 1 matchups on the outside?
Adam Rittenberg (1:12 PM)
Exactly, James. I doubt Hoyer will go at Malcolm Jenkins, but Michigan State has gone a job job of recognizing mismatches in the passing game. Ohio State's linebackers are good against the pass, but there could be some openings there.
Shawn (State College)
Hey Adam, I read your log everyday. Keep up the good work. Do you think Penn State will beat Michigan this week .. I mean with the psycological edge that Michigan holds, will that be a factor?
Adam Rittenberg (1:13 PM)
Thanks, Shawn. In most years, I would say it would be a factor. But Michigan is such a mess on offense right now, and I can't see Penn State's defense letting down a notch. It could be close for a quarter or so, but the Lions are simply too powerful.
Lou (Bethesda, MD)
Adam, say Tex, Bama, and PSU all go undefeated. PSU gets left out (as usual) but beats let's say USC in the Rose Bowl. Does the AP split the champions and vote PSU #1?
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
Well, Lou, it doesn't really work that way any more. The AP vote doesn't matter in determining the national champion. It's the BCS champ, whether we like it or not.
Andy (Miami, FL)
Justin Feagin is still practicing at QB as well as in the slot. Do you think he will play at all at QB this weekend?
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
I saw that earlier this week and thought it was an interesting nugget. If Threet is too banged up and Sheridan struggles, I could see Rich seeing what Feagin can bring at QB. But I wouldn't count on it, either.
Another Gopher fan (yes, we're popping our heads out of our holes in masses), and I can't help but wonder either: at this rate, do you foresee Weber entering the Heisman talk by his Senior year? Or even Decker next year? They are obviously one of the best combos in the nation this year!
Adam Rittenberg (1:16 PM)
Weber is the perfect quarterback for Mike Dunbar's offense because he limits mistakes (this year, at least) and still poses a running threat. I don't know about a Heisman run, but he'll have a very nice career there along with Decker, who will be an NFL wide receiver.
do you think the locker room rumblings out of columbus are being over-hyped by the media or do you think there are some serious internal issues with buckeyes over the Pryor move?
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
I think some pass-catchers (WRs, TEs) are unhappy because of their decreased roles. I'm sure some guys think Boeckman never should have been replaced, but it doesn't make them anti-Pryor. My point is that those guys had their chance to make plays before the switch, and the passing game stunk with Boeckman at QB as well.
Adam, Brett Beliema has a Hawkeye tattoo. With that said, what's your prediction for the Iowa/Wisc game in beautiful Iowa City on Saturday?
Adam Rittenberg (1:18 PM)
Ha, I like your opening line. I picked Iowa to win 21-17. Bielema's defense turns in a spirited effort, but all the problems on offense are too much to overcome.
Matt (Savannah, GA)
I must admit, I was sweating bullets at Bobby Dodd Stadium watching GT squeak out a win against Gardner Webb. Do you see Tech taking care of business this weekend against a coach/QB changing Clemson team that also might not have Spiller?
Adam Rittenberg (1:19 PM)
I do. Clemson will be a mess emotionally and Georgia Tech is a much better coached team. Last week's result surprised me, but Johnson will have the Jackets ready to go.
Alex (Champaign, IL)
Reports say that Kellen Lewis is questionable for their game against Illinois this weekend, but apparently Zook isn't buying it. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (1:20 PM)
Indiana LB Matt Mayberry told me yesterday that Lewis is still questionable, and the QB didn't practice Wednesday. My guess is he plays sparingly Saturday, but Ben Chappell takes most of the snaps.
Tyrell Sutton has meant so much to the NU offense and as he goes, they seem to go. As he graduates this year, who is next in line to take his spot next season?
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
Sutton will be a huge loss, Sam, the biggest loss on offense because of all he does. Stephen Simmons is a fast back, but I worry about his size. They have always found solid running backs and the O-line will be better, but few backs are as strong a receiver as Sutton out of the backfield.
Tom Marion Iowa
Adam, you've had the opportunity to watch all of the backs in the Big Ten. There's a lot of good ones.....rank your top 6.
Adam Rittenberg (1:23 PM)
Wow, that's a tough one. Honestly, I still think Beanie Wells is the most NFL-ready back in the Big Ten. But according to production and performance this season, I would go: 1. Ringer 2. Shonn Greene 3. Evan Royster 4. Beanie Wells 5. Tyrell Sutton 6. Kory Sheets
What does Wisco do for QB? Have Sherer/Tolzein play and then let Philips take the reigns after this year? Pointless to keep playing bad-decision making Evridge.
Adam Rittenberg (1:24 PM)
I agree that it's time for a change. Bret didn't admit he was thinking about the future this week, but how can you not? It's important to see what Sherer brings. Honestly, I saw the three guys in the preseason and was unimpressed by all of them. So this isn't a huge surprise.
Eric (Washington DC)
Any chance Darryl Clark goes pro after this year? What are the odds that Pat Devlin will stay?
Adam Rittenberg (1:25 PM)
Clark will be back. And I think Devlin stays as well. It's a tough break for him to have one year as the starter, but you never know when he'll be needed.
Ok, if you go talent and not overall production/performance, you have to put John Clay as a top 3, right?
Adam Rittenberg (1:26 PM)
I love John Clay. He runs like he's ticked off. Wisconsin should have used him more against Ohio State, for sure. But he's not more talented than Beanie Wells. I still need to see more.
Didnt Clark get another year of eligibility?
Adam Rittenberg (1:26 PM)
Yes, he did. That's why Devlin will only have one year as the starter, provided Clark stays healthy.
Chris (Santa Maria, CA)
Adam, I see Mizzou as a Texas Tech with a slightly better defense. There are many who think that they will knock off Texas this weekend, but I don't see it. I have a funny feeling that Texas will run away with this by a score of 42-17. What's your take?
Adam Rittenberg (1:27 PM)
It's hard to see Chase Daniel not bouncing back and having a good game. I see it as a little closer than you do, but Texas will prevail.
Eric (Washington DC)
If you went 10 backs would Stephon Green make the cut?
Adam Rittenberg (1:29 PM)
I'm not sure. Would have to put guys like Jewel Hampton and DeLeon Eskridge ahead of Green. Yesterday Green expressed some frustration with his play and said he's not really sure of his role right now. He's trying to be happy for the team, but I sense he's a little upset right now.
Will J (Portland, OR)
This was suppose to be Painter's breakout season, but it's been a pretty disappointing year. What do you feel has been the biggest reason for Painter's failure so-to-speak?
Adam Rittenberg (1:30 PM)
It's hard when you lose guys with whom you're so used to playing. Dorien Bryant was a big loss, but I've always felt Dustin Keller is the real missing piece with the offense this year. Not having that big target over the middle really hurts Painter, particularly in the red zone.
Can you explain to me why a coach like RR would force feed an offensive system on a team so ill suited to run it like he has at Michigan? It seems to have resulted in transfers and a loss to Toledo. We've seen the Spread isn't a cure all if you don't have the personnel (Auburn). Why not work with what he has? We Are; Penn State!
Adam Rittenberg (1:31 PM)
I see your point, but coaches have to stick with what they know and believe in, and for Rich it's the spread. He could do a better job of tweaking it to fit his personnel, but ultimately, all these players need to learn how to succeed in this system. He's not going anywhere, and neither is the spread.
Michael (Evansville, IN)
Adam, I've got another hypo for you: 1) Utah/BYU goes undefeated & beats an undefeated BYU/Utah in late Nov. (catipulting them to the top of BCS computers). 2) The only viable one loss teams that remain are USC & Ohio St. (because 2 loss teams have happened to prevail in the Big 12 & SEC champ. games). 3) Do the voters select a Ohio St./USC rematch or do they go for the winner of Utah/BYU?
Adam Rittenberg (1:32 PM)
Michael, I don't deal in absurd hypotheticals too often, but my sense is an undefeated BYU team would be ahead of Ohio State or USC in the BCS standings, which are all the matters in determining the title game.
Tim Berkeley Ca
How do you think the Cal-Arizona game will play out this weekend and how effective will Jahvid Best be?
Adam Rittenberg (1:33 PM)
How's it going in my hometown, Tim? Cal always seems to struggle down there, costing itself a chance at the Rose Bowl several years back. I'm not sure about Best's availability, but Cal will need a strong defensive effort to avoid another loss in the desert.
Chris (Erie, PA)
Adam, do you have any ideas or suggestions why it has taken Derrick Williams until his senior season to perform the way should have for the past 3 three years, being one of the top recruits in the country 3 years ago? He is amazing this year!! WE ARE...
Adam Rittenberg (1:34 PM)
The switch in offensive philosophy has really benefited Williams. Before it seemed forced when they used him in the backfield. Now it looks more natural. Penn State deserves credit for adapting its system to the personnel, even if it's not what the program is used to.
Adam...has anyone every told you that you are the least knowledgeable blogger on ESPN.com's College Football site? Even the hottie Heather Dinich knows more than you.
Adam Rittenberg (1:35 PM)
I can find a bunch of people who disagree with you, but thanks for the kind words.
Landon (Coos Bay, OR)
Hey Adam, who do have in tonight's big Mountain West. BYU's offense or TCU's defense and why?
Adam Rittenberg (1:36 PM)
I'm taking the BYU offense, but it will be close. TCU is a very tough place to play, especially on a Thursday night with short rest. But Max Hall will make enough plays and get enough time in the pocket.
Matt (St. Paul)
Willie VanDeSteeg...defensive player of the year so far in the Big 10?
Adam Rittenberg (1:37 PM)
Willie has shown that when healthy, he's one of the Big Ten's top pass rushers. He needs a few more performances like Saturday's to be considered for player of the year, but he has led the turnaround on that side of the ball.
Dan (Rochester, MN)
Does the big win by Iowa let the coaches of the hook for the close losses? What kind of record would make the calls for a coaching change stop? Is 7-5 good enough?
Adam Rittenberg (1:38 PM)
They owe Ferentz so much money that anything short of a 5-win season probably keeps them safe. I think Iowa will be a very dangerous team in the second half and could finish with 7-8 wins. The Hawkeyes took too long to settle on a quarterback, but now that they have a guy, they should be fine.
Drew (Sec Land)
Adam, What's the best tailgating in the Big 10 for a possible weekend roadtrip?
Adam Rittenberg (1:39 PM)
It's got to be Penn State. The whole setup there is perfect for tailgating, a huge stadium with nothing around it but open fields. If you can't get to Happy Valley, check out Madison.
Kyle (East Lansing, Mi)
Hey Adam. Great Blog. With MSU obviously being a heavy run offense this year, Beanie Wells for OSU and both QB's not ever blowing up the stat sheet with their arms, do you see this game sat being a typical Big Ten run-fest and low scoring? or do both defenses stop the others potent run and the game becomes a shootout?
Adam Rittenberg (1:40 PM)
I can't see it turning into a shootout. Ohio State isn't capable of scoring more than 30 points and Michigan State will want to control the clock with Ringer and mix in passes. I have the game 19-17 Ohio State, but it could go either way. Low scoring, though.
Brian (Portland, OR)
Aaron Maybin or Maurice Evans... who would you start?
Adam Rittenberg (1:41 PM)
I loved Evans coming into the season, but how can you take Maybin out right now? He's a beast on third downs and has improved his technique as a run-stopper. Penn State will play both, but I'm excited about Maybin's future.
Bryan (Wauchula, FL)
FSU plays tonight but you wouldn't know it by this chat.
Adam Rittenberg (1:42 PM)
Sorry 'Noles fans, I'm not too enamored with tonight's matchup. You guys should win, though. N.C. State is nothing special.
Is there anyway we can just get rid of Tiller before the end of the season? I realize this team is not the most talented team in the big 10, but has a coach ever been overmatched this consistently in big games?
Adam Rittenberg (1:43 PM)
The schedule has been tough and the personnel is not as strong on offense, but Tiller deserves some blame for the slow start. They have to find new ways to get Kory Sheets the ball. He's been productive so far, but he could get more touches as well.
What is your opinion on the 2008 Notre Dame team? On their way back to being a top program?
Adam Rittenberg (1:44 PM)
They're on their way to being a solid program. This is an important year to take a step forward, win eight or nine games and, most important, WIN A BOWL GAME. I don't want to see the Irish anywhere near a BCS Bowl. Send them to the Gator Bowl or some place where they have a legit shot at winning.
Troy (La Plata, MD)
I have been asking questions for 40 minutes trying to get on your "Big 10" chat and you post Bryan's comment! I am hurt Adam. I believe the ACC could take on almost any team in the Big 10 right now. Penn State's offense hasn't played against a southeastern defense!
Adam Rittenberg (1:45 PM)
Sorry, Troy. There would be some even matchups, but Penn State would destroy any ACC team by 17 points or more. I really like North Carolina and Georgia Tech, and Beamer has done a phenomenal job at Va Tech. But Clemson's performance has really dragged down the perception of the league, much like Ohio State with the Big Ten.
Brutus Boy Cleveland Ohio
Do you think Beanie will come back next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:46 PM)
Good question, Brutus. It's hard to tell. He's certainly ready for the NFL, but there could be some questions about his ability to stay healthy. He had the wrist and the ankle last year, and then the foot this year. My sense is he'll be back, but it could go either way.
Even with the multitude of loses at WR, are the Nittany Lions better next year? Will the return Lee, Hayes and Still have a huge impact?
Adam Rittenberg (1:48 PM)
Lee definitely will make a difference, and I know hopes are high for Still. The defense will be as good or better next year, and if they find some solid wideouts, they'll be strong again on the offensive side.
Jordan (New York City but my heart is in East Lansing)
Adam...come on...The tennis courts at State are the best. One of the only schools in the country to allow drinking on campus!!! Girls too!!! Anyways, do you really see tosu stopping STATE? There offense cannot keep up with MSU's. There defense is dinged, and it appears STATE is clicking now and tosu is going in rewind. Do you think Trevor Anderson and Brandon Long will be factors? How will tosu O-line hold up against STATE's D??
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
The tennis courts are some solid tailgating, Jordan. One of the prime spots in the Big Ten, for sure. Ohio State can keep Michigan State in check, though the Spartans are playing virtually mistake-free football right now. Glad you brought up Anderson. He could be a huge factor in this game. Pryor takes too many sacks, and if Anderson and Long generate pressure, Michigan State will be in good shape.
I can't believe you just compared Clemson's performance to Ohio State's. Clemson a team that can't win 10 games or their conference and Ohio State a team that only loses the title game and won three straight conference championships.
Adam Rittenberg (1:50 PM)
I only compared them in terms of perception. Ohio State loses big games and it drags down the Big Ten's rep. Clemson underachieves every year and it drags down the ACC's rep. The records aren't comparable, just the outside effect.
Based on this year's performance, are either Daryll Clark or Evan Royster on the Heisman Short list for next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:51 PM)
Both guys will get considered. It might be tough for Royster because he has to share carries with Green, but his production is mind-boggling (yards-per-carry).
Adam Rittenberg (1:51 PM)
OK, guys, that's all the time I've got. Same time, same place next week. Enjoy the games!