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, time to chat again. I'm your Big Ten blogger, but I'll take questions on any team, any league. Fire away!
Will (Harrisburg, PA)
Adam - Do you believe Penn State has the necessary depth on the D-Line and at LB to be able to contain the OSU running game for 4 quarters? Assuming they do contain the OSU running game, how would you rate the OSU WR corp versus the PSU secondary. To me the OSU receivers seem to be more possession oriented and do not have breakaway speed like Benn (who killed PSU)
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
D-Line, yes. Linebacker, not sure. The Penn State linebackers are the biggest question mark for the team entering this one, just like the D-linemen for Ohio State. The switch to Mauti and Gbadyu seemed to work last week against Michigan. Wouldn't be surprised if they go that route again. You hit on it, though. The run game is the key with Ohio State. Force Pryor to beat you with the pass.
Chad (New York city)
Adam, assuming Notre Dame loses at USC,how many games will they win, and what game will they get into? Because we all know they get special treatment.
Adam Rittenberg (1:04 PM)
My sense is Notre Dame will have one more loss besides SC. Let's see here, I was a journalism major, but that would equal 8-4 (I think!). ND would go to the Gator Bowl, where they would actually have a chance of winning as opposed to going to a BCS bowl based on reputation and embarrassing itself like '05 and '06
Noticed Shonn Greene is finally on the heisman watch list. What needs to be accomplished by the junior to get the call to New York (I dont expect him to win what with the Big 12 QB's putting up like a million yards passing this year.)
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
He needs to have a huge game against Penn State on Nov. 8, not just yards but touchdown. The four TDs against Wisconsin were almost more important than the 217 rush yards for his national reputation. Greene looks like the Big Ten's top back, and if he continues to get in the end zone, a New York invite is possible.
bill (muncie, IN)
Will ball state go undefeated?
Adam Rittenberg (1:06 PM)
I think they will. Some tough games left in the MAC, but Ball State's defense has really impressed me the last few weeks. We know about Nate Davis and the offense, but few teams play any defense in the MAC, and Ball State has shown good balance.
Patrick (Mobile, AL)
Adam, does Auburn have a chance at West Virginia tonight? I guess it all depends if they finally found an offense or not huh?
Adam Rittenberg (1:07 PM)
It's not like West Virginia is lighting it up, either, but you're right, Patrick. It's amazing how little that game means, but I could see Auburn sneaking out of Morgantown with a win.
Brady (Bowling Greem, OH)
Did you just say that Greene is the Big Tens top back??!! Are you forgetting about Mr. Wells? Besides the injuries this year, nobody holds a candle to him when het gets going.
Adam Rittenberg (1:08 PM)
I agree, but this year, given what each guy has done, Greene has been the most impressive on a consistent basis. He has less to work with than Beanie -- a less talented QB, a less experienced offensive line. I still think Beanie will have the best pro career, but based on this year, Greene is the top back.
Kenny: (East Lansing, MI)
I know many people think that MSU is going to continue on with its annual fall from glory. However, I don't think that will happen, I see us winning our next three (hopefully whoop Michigan) and more than likely losing in Happy Valley in the final game of the year. That puts us at 9-3. I know its early, but what kind of bowl game do you think that record will get us into? Would a New Year's Day bowl be a good possibility?
Adam Rittenberg (1:09 PM)
A Jan. 1 bowl would be possible if that's the case. This is a huge game for Michigan State for a number of reasons. The Spartans need to avoid a major slide and finally snap the losing streak to Michigan. Dantonio has pretty much said that the program won't be viable until it beat Michigan. Well, a great chance arrives Saturday. I like the team's approach to this game, and they'll be emotionally ready to play.
Adam Rittenberg (1:10 PM)
Just a tip, guys. If you send in your question 25 times over and over, I'll never choose it.
If USC and Ohio State win out, and Florida is the SEC champ with one loss, who would you put in the BCS championship against the Big12 champion: USC or Florida?
Adam Rittenberg (1:11 PM)
Wow, that's a tough call, Dave. Florida definitely gets the edge with conference strength, but the Gators' ugly loss came at home, while USC's came on the road. A lot would depend on how the teams won their games the rest of the way. If USC dominates, I'd have a hard time leaving them out.
The Big 12 has 60 less players in the NFL than the Big 10. The Big 12 also has 1 extra team. How can the Big 12 possibly be considered better this year, when the talent level isn't even close.
Adam Rittenberg (1:11 PM)
People love quarterbacks, Mike, and the Big 12 has several great ones.
Cosmo Kramer (Anytown, USA)
With Clark having a chance of getting hurt when he is running the ball, does Pat Devlin give Penn State a chance to win if he is forced into duty?
Adam Rittenberg (1:13 PM)
Never hope for an injury, especially to a class act like Clark, but Devlin plays a vital role for Penn State. He clearly would start on a lot of FBS teams, and he should be able to move the offense -- more through the air than the ground -- if he entered the game.
Derek (Salt Lake City)
Adam - I have a question for you about Utah. As an Alum, I have a bit of a bias and see them running the table. But I want a non-biased opinion on what you think they will do the remainder of the season and if they go undefeated, which BCS bowl they end up in.
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
Let's check the Utes schedule ...
Adam Rittenberg (1:15 PM)
They get both TCU and BYU at home, which is huge, but BYU seems to have Utah's number in the series. Don't want to bring up a bad memory, but that last-second play to Hartline in 2006 was unreal. My sense is Utah will get knocked off in the season finale.
Andrew (Washington, DC)
What are the chances Threet's injury rears up again against MSU and we have to throw in Sheriden (and thereby concede the game)?
Adam Rittenberg (1:16 PM)
There's a pretty good chance. It's a bruise and Threet will lose feeling in his arm if he's hit in the right spot. Sheridan simply has to perform better if he goes in for Threet. Michigan really doesn't want to use Justin Feagin this year, but Sheridan might give Rodriguez no choice.
Adam, the Buckeyes D is playing downright nasty right now, and Penn State's biggest weakness is their O-line... what posessed you to pick the lions in Columbus, a place where they have never won a Big Ten game?
Adam Rittenberg (1:18 PM)
Brutus, I love mascots, but to say Penn State's weakness is its offensive line is just dopey. The Lions have one of the better offensive lines in the country, stocked with experience. You might want to look at your own offensive line, which struggled until last week. ... Like I said in the picks, it could go either way, but I actually think line play on both sides will be the difference for Penn State.
Aaron (Hooversville, Pa)
Hey Adam, in response to Andrew's question...Whats the chances MSU blows this one again and begins their mid-season slide considering after this there is a chance for more losses (Wisconsin, Purdue, PSU).. And if they win, what kind of damage could they do to factor in the big ten title mix??
Adam Rittenberg (1:19 PM)
I don't believe the Spartans will factor into the title mix. It will be Penn State or Ohio State. But a strong finish with only one more loss (at Penn State) likely will earn MSU a Jan. 1 bowl invite (Capital One or Outback).
Fun Facts: Big 10 is 4-4 vs the SEC the last 3 years. Big 10 is 7-7 vs the SEC the last 5 years. Big 10 is 14-13 vs the SEC the last 10 years. 26 of the 27 games were played down south.
Adam Rittenberg (1:20 PM)
Thanks, Joe. Appreciate the numbers. But everyone only remembers what has happened recently, and it isn't pretty for the Big Ten.
Matt (St. Paul)
What are the chances of a let-down game for the Gophers at Purdue this weekend. We NEVER play well there!
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
Big Ten teams have really struggled following bye weeks this year -- only Michigan has won and it faced another team (Wisconsin) coming off a bye. Tim Brewster thinks he has the magic formula for handling a bye week, but I still think the Gophers start slow before rallying late to beat Purdue.
Do my beloved Noles have a chance to blow out VT this weekend?
Adam Rittenberg (1:22 PM)
I don't know about blowing them out, but FSU certainly has a chance in that game. Should be a good one.
Ben (Penn State)
Is the Big Ten overlooked? Solid running backs, and more than one team with 2 plus playmakers. Is tradition getting in the way of Big Ten respect?..for example OSU choking in big games.
Adam Rittenberg (1:24 PM)
The running backs are certainly getting overlooked around the country. The Big Ten has by far the strongest crop of running backs. As far as the league, with only two elite teams, it's hard to get too much respect. The Big Ten didn't have a great non-con season, so a lot will be on the line in the bowl games.
NICK (BRONCO COUNTRY)
Yo Adam, big BSU believer...how you liking our freshman, Mr. Moore? We love #11 and the upside he has shown!!! How you see our season playing out and will we go January bowling??? Love your column!
Adam Rittenberg (1:25 PM)
I'm amazed by Boise State's ability to produce strong quarterbacks year after year. I know Moore had an advantage with his football roots (dad was a coach, for those who don't know), but he's really been a big surprise out there.
Damon (Dallas, TX)
Why is Kansas favored over Tech?
Adam Rittenberg (1:26 PM)
The game is in Lawrence and Tech hasn't really beaten anyone good. But I'm not sold on Kansas at all. Tech takes that one.
Adam, I was watching a recent ESPN video clip where Todd McShay made the comment that PSU's "O Line is only decent", is he watching the same line that everyone in the country is or am i missing something. What are your thoughts? Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (1:27 PM)
The line I've seen looks pretty solid, but we'll find out more on Saturday night. Looking at the PSU O-line vs. the Ohio State D-line, I've got to get the edge to the Lions.
Joe Gunn (Oxford, MS)
How do you think Ole Miss Rebel Coach Houston Nutt will fair at his former team the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday?
Adam Rittenberg (1:28 PM)
Man, that will be a good one. I'm sure Nutt can't wait for this game. It's on the road, which will be tough, but I can see Ole Miss coming up with the win.
Nick (Birmingham, AL)
JoePa indicated in his report yesterday that the issue early on against Michigan was not the linebackers, but the D-Line not adjusting well; therefore, people were on top of the LB's very quickly. He said that they actually made adjustments to the line, and then they began seeing more success against the UM rushing attack. Your thoughts??
Adam Rittenberg (1:29 PM)
I think he didn't want to criticize the linebackers who got replaced against Michigan. The D-line has been fine despite injuries, suspensions and dismissals. If there's a weak spot, it's at LB.
Assuming they take care of Indiana and Purdue this week, who do you have in the suddenly relevant NU-Minnesota game on Nov. 1st? And can the Cats hang with OSU on Nov. 8th? We're dreaming of Pasadena in Chicagoland (but would be happy with New Years in Florida, as well)....
Adam Rittenberg (1:31 PM)
It would be something if both those teams went into that game at 7-1. Minnesota probably would get the edge because it's at home and makes fewer mistakes, but Northwestern has more experience. The Gophers are probably due for a down game or two, but I'd give them a slight advantage
Adam, can you tell me something good about Danny Hope cause Joe Tiller is absolutely killing me right now?
Adam Rittenberg (1:32 PM)
Will do. Hope is a solid recruiter with strong ties to Florida, one of the nation's top states for prep talent. He will recruit different types of players to Purdue. He cares more about speed than anything else, which will help the Boilers down the line.
Matt (St. Paul)
Is an OSU win over PSU this weekend a disaster for the Big Ten? I don't think anyone in the country outside of Columbus wants to see OSU in another major bowl this year!
Adam Rittenberg (1:33 PM)
It's not a disaster if Ohio State continues to improve and completes the season with a BCS win. The disaster would be a Buckeyes win and another embarrassing loss in a major bowl. But the best-case scenario for the league is to have Penn State win out and Ohio State go to the Rose Bowl.
Michael (Evansville, IN)
Say there are two-loss champions in the Big 12 & SEC (Alabama and Texas both lose once in reg. season and once in conf. champ. game). Then, say Ohio St., USC, and Utah win out. Would the voters go for a) an Ohio St./USC rematch b) USC/Utah or c) would they do the unthinkable and leapfrog a 2-loss team from Big 12/SEC or even Penn St. back over Ohio St. to avoid the Ohio St./USC rematch? What I'm getting at is: will the voters engage in some schananigins to avoid the dreaded Ohio St. USC matchup for the National Championship game if it were to come to that????
Adam Rittenberg (1:34 PM)
Wow, interesting call here. A lot would depend on how high Utah gets in the rankings from now until before the league championship games. My sense is we'd get an OSU-USC rematch, but you never know.
Jason (San Francisco)
Adam, what are the chances that an undefeated Big Ten team gets shut out of the NC game, assuming there are no other undefeated BCS schools?
Adam Rittenberg (1:35 PM)
I'll repeat this to everyone. If Penn State goes undefeated and there is only one other undefeated team, the Lions will go to the title game. There's no chance Penn State gets shut out for a 1-loss team, no matter where that team comes from.
Adam, are you up on any recruiting in the Big Ten? I recently heard the #2 kicker in the country decommitted from UM and committed to PSU? It seems several other recruits might decommit as well. Is it really that bad in Ann Arbor?
Adam Rittenberg (1:36 PM)
I believe Michigan has lost four commitments this season. The Wolverines will still have a strong class, but I'm sure the losing has taken a bit of a toll. Michigan State's recruiting looks very strong for '09.
Bob (New Orleans)
Adam, it's amazing Ohio St gets slammed when they lost in the last 2 NC games, but without the dumb mistakes, could have beat LSU with a team that wasn't even supposed to be there. Since 2002 OSU has played in 3 NC games, and a total of 5 BCS games. How many teams have a more impressive run over those years? How many teams would like to change places with "The" Bucks?
Adam Rittenberg (1:38 PM)
A lot of teams would, Bob. I remember talking to Brian Hartline about this before the season and he said it's like being in high school and hating the kid who's so good at everything. You hate him (or her) but you want to be him.
Ryan (Ferndale, MI)
Adam, Everyone pretty much knew that Michigan's offense would have a tough year. However, the defense was supposed to be improved from last year. I think it's safe to say that they have been disappointing at best. Why haven't they played better after all the hype about Mike Barwis' conditioning program?
Adam Rittenberg (1:39 PM)
Good call, Ryan. I'm a little surprised at how the defense has fallen off in recent weeks. That unit carried the team during the first four games. The secondary needs to be tweaked for sure, but I'm surprised the line has struggled a bit.
Jason (Springfield, MO)
Am I the only one that thinks that Illinois could be a trap game for the buckeyes if they beat Penn State?
Adam Rittenberg (1:40 PM)
You're not alone, Jason. Illinois always matches up very well with the Buckeyes, and the Illini can score on anyone this year. Ohio State will be able to run the ball in that game, but Illinois' big-play ability on the home turf could lead to an upset.
Jon (Twin Cities)
Do you think Joe Glenn gets fired after this year at Wyoming?
Adam Rittenberg (1:41 PM)
I do. It's too bad because Joe is a terrific guy, but you can't fall too far behind in that league with BYU, Utah, TCU, New Mexico and the like. Wyoming will make a change.
Mrs. Jones michigan
Is michigan state on upset alert against michigan? Michigan defense is carring the team, but isn't michigan state RB ringer shouldering the load. I believe michigan state will have a shot to win if they start QB Cousins. Do you agree?
Adam Rittenberg (1:43 PM)
I wouldn't say upset alert when a team has lost six straight times to its top rival. The Spartans should win this game, but rivalry games on the road have few guarantees. I would stick with Hoyer as the starter, but if he struggles, put in Cousins. MSU can't afford mistakes from Hoyer with his poor completion %
Jeff: (Tulsa, Ok):
If Bama, Penn State loose a game, Oklahoma wins out and Texas wins out, could there be a OU V. UT rematch in the NCG...... And florida will loose again so don't say florida would jump a 1 loss OU
Adam Rittenberg (1:44 PM)
I doubt it, Jeff. We had a similar case in 2006 with Michigan and Ohio State and it didn't work out that way. I would think another team faces the Longhorns in the title game.
Chris - South Carolina
If each of these teams have 1 loss at season's end who do you think has the best chance to get to the NCG? USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma, UF, Alabama, UGA?
Adam Rittenberg (1:45 PM)
A lot depends on Alabama's loss - Who does it come to? Where does it happen? By how much? Oklahoma's loss to Texas looks a lot better than any of the others you list
What does PSU have to do to be regarded as a national power again? Would a BCS game do it or only a NC?
Adam Rittenberg (1:46 PM)
A national title certainly would do it, but the problem is the uncertainty beyond this season. THere are a lot of questions about what will happen to Penn State when Joe steps down, how difficult the transition would be.
Rory (Bowling Green, OH)
Are teams like Minnesota and Northwestern for real? Or is this a short-time thing and they'll fizzle out soon?
Adam Rittenberg (1:47 PM)
Both teams have solid elements, and in a league that's down a bit this season, both could have solid records. Northewstern has the tougher closing stretch than Minnesota, but both teams will go bowling.
Brian (Baltimore, MD)
What do you think of Daryll Clark proclaiming teammate Evan Rosyter as a heisman candidate?
Adam Rittenberg (1:48 PM)
It's no big surprise, just trying to get his teammate some more love from the national media. Royster has been terrific, but he won't be a serious Heisman candidate unless he starts getting 25 or more carries per game.
You seem very certain that a 1-loss team couldn't jump an undefeated PSU team, but consider Florida winning out by big margins and beating an undeafted Alabama team in the SEC title game. I could easily see them jumping PSU.
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
Florida lost at home. To Mississippi. Penn State has dominated everyone to this point. It will have wins against Oregon State, Ohio State, Michigan State, etc. I don't see it happening, Mike.
Bob (New Orleans)
Adam, isn't there someone currently on Joe Pa's staff, that is set to take over when he steps down? If true, wouldn't that make for a smoother transition?
Adam Rittenberg (1:50 PM)
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley seems like the likely choice to succeed JoePa. I've heard those within the university want an outside candidate, but Bradley would certainly be considered.
Adam, Texas loses 2 more games, and Oklahoma forfeits the rest of the season. Then USC has another outbreak of jock itch and plays poorly. And OSU and Penn St tie. Then Nick Saban leaves Alabama for the pros, and Florida has an alligator attack their team....who would go to the NC game?
Adam Rittenberg (1:51 PM)
Ball State and Utah! Thanks very much for your time. I'll be back next week, same time, same place.