Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg will stop by to talk college football.
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 Thursday at 4 p.m. ET!
Adam Rittenberg (4:00 PM)
Welcome to the official "Respect Iowa Now!" chat. I'm your host, Adam Rittenberg. Let's begin.
Tom (Iowa City, IA)
Hey Adam, if Ohio State beats Penn State this weekend, but Iowa loses to Ohio State, it means Ohio State will go to the Rose Bowl, but what are the chances Iowa would still make a BCS Bowl over Penn State, since Iowa owns the tie breaker over them and what bowl do you think that will be? Thanks keep up the good work on the blog.
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
It's an interesting question, Tom. Both teams have huge fan bases. Penn State obviously has more of a national reputation and the Joe Paterno factor. A lot depends on how other teams (USC, Notre Dame) fare as well. I think the Hawkeyes would have a decent chance, depending on where they end up in the BCS standings.
Chad (Iowa City)
How effective do you think Kafka will be, if he plays on Saturday? As the Wildcat's leading rusher, will this make them even more one demensional on offense?
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
I wouldn't imagine Kakfa will do too much running in the game, just a week after the hamstring pull. Expect Northwestern to play both Kafka and Dan Persa, who is a good runner. Kafka will be used primarily on short passes, where he's excelled this season.
Adam, who do you think is the leagues defensive player of the year so far?
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Great question, Garrett. I would go with Iowa safety Tyler Sash because he's been the league's top playmaker on defense. But Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield and Michigan's Brandon Graham would also be considered. It's too bad for Graham he plays on such a lousy unit.
Hunt (Darien, CT)
Can you please explain to me what it will take for MSU to end up 7-5? And if you could, can you also predict how the Spartans look for the near future (like the next 2 or 3 seasons). And yes, some Spartans fans live in Connecticut. Love the blog by the way, I look at it everyday
Adam Rittenberg (4:06 PM)
Michigan State should be favored in its next two games (Western Michigan and Purdue). The Spartans have to be much more consistent on defense the rest of the way and perform the way they did for most of the game against Iowa. The secondary has been WAY too inconsistent this season, and Michigan State really struggles in the red zone on both sides of the ball. It will take a lot to upset Penn State in the finale, but the game is in East Lansing.
Jake (Honolulu, HI)
Is Rich Rod on the hot seat in your opinion or does he get one more year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
Rodriguez will get at least another year at Michigan. The only thing that might derail him is the ongoing NCAA investigation. If there are major violations found, plus a 5-7 season with no bowl again, he could be in a bit of trouble. But with an athletic director search going on right now and the university president backing him, I think Rich is fine.
Dave (New York)
Adam do you think Ohio State can win if TP just doesn't turn the ball over? Or do the Silver Bullets need to put in a score?
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
Turnovers have been a bigger problem for Pryor this year, for sure. Ohio State might not need a defensive touchdown, but the offense must show an ability to consistently move the ball with short to intermediate gains. Aside from the big play, Ohio State hasn't had a calling card on offense this year, though Pryor has run the ball better the last two games.
Ryan (Des Moines, IA)
Everyone always seems to love a Cinderella story so why is there so much hate for the Cinderella Hawkeyes?
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
Here's the deal, Ryan. It's not Iowa's fault. People despise the Big Ten around the country. No one wants to see a Big Ten team in the title game. Look at Penn State last year. The Nits flat out dominated teams and everyone still was thrilled when Iowa beat them. Iowa's biggest enemy isn't margin of victory. It's the Big Ten, plain and simple.
Gophers offense looked pretty good without Decker...can they keep it up?
Adam Rittenberg (4:12 PM)
I'm very interested to see if they can, Jason. Adam Weber told me after the game Saturday night that 60 percent of the offense went through Decker. That's really remarkable. But sometimes an offense needs to face adversity for other guys to step up. Jedd Fisch called his best game and Weber played his best game without Decker. Illinois' defense is vulnerable, so I'd like to see Minnesota spread the ball around a lot. I LOVE what I've seen from Nick Tow-Arnett this season.
Have you thought about what would happen if Ohio State loses to Michigan with these throwback uniforms?
Adam Rittenberg (4:12 PM)
They'll burn 'em.
Ben (peachtree city georgia)
Adam, Any truth to the talk of Pat Fitzgerald taking over at Notre Dame? Also, thanks for your Big Ten blog- it keeps me sane down here in sec/acc country.
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
I wouldn't worry about Fitz leaving Northwestern any time soon, especially after a mediocre season this fall. He loves Northwestern and doesn't carry a torch for Notre Dame in any way. People see South Side kid, Irish-Catholic and automatically assume the guy wants to coach in South Bent. It's an incorrect assumption.
Adam Rittenberg (4:14 PM)
That should be South Bend, sorry Domers.
Phil (Tuscaloosa, Al)
I know how most other conference fans feel about the SEC, but coming from a reporter/writer from the Big Ten how do you feel about the SEC?
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
I think they play great football down there. Tremendous athletes and tremendous coaching. I think people take things WAY too seriously as well, both the fans and the coaches. I was stunned that neither Urban Meyer nor the SEC suspended Brandon Spikes for at least one game for what he did last week. If Spikes played in the Big Ten, he'd be sitting out at least a game, if not two or three.
Kirk Ferentz (Iowa City)
Adam, love the blog! Why is it that you are so much smarter than the other bloggers. They don't seem to understand strenght of schedule.
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
Kirk! I thought you didn't care about this BCS drivel. Get back to the film room, sir.
Jake (Honolulu, HI)
Who are the Purdue Boilermakers? With so many inconsistent games, its hard to tell who they are.
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
Totally agree, Jake. Last week's result was truly shocking, a complete meltdown in all three phases. I think Purdue might be hitting a wall emotionally. Then again, the Boilers have the weapons to knock off Michigan and keep their bowl hopes slive.
Vince (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Does the new kicker make Jim Tressel go for touchdowns more?
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
Pettrey's absence could be a huge factor in that game, especially since the score could be close. I would imagine Barclay will be OK from inside 30 yards or so, but I would expect more aggressive playcalling when Ohio State gets into Penn State territory.
Nate (State College Pa ( The Happiest Place on Earth))
Adam, Which player do you see as standing out in the Nittany /Buckeye showdown in my back yard ?
Adam Rittenberg (4:20 PM)
I actually think both quarterbacks will have their moments, but Daryll Clark prevails with a big fourth quarter.
James (Cedar Falls, IA)
What are the chances for an undefeated Iowa to leapfrog an undefeated Texas if TCU, Cincy, and Boise all lose? This would, in theory, move Iowa up in human polls. And its strong schedule will keep them higher than Texas in the computers. Mass chaos ensues?
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
Hmmmm, I like your thinking here, James. Now it would take a lot for all three of those teams to lose, especially Boise. There won't be much choice but to move Iowa up in the human polls. Still, the Hawkeyes still could use a 25-point win here in the final three games.
Where you do see the Hoosiers going as a program? Does a year like this one (blowing leads and losing games it had a big chance to win) make them think they're almost there or make them think here we go again?
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
Good question, John. Indiana clearly is a program that can't get over the hump, though the Hoosiers are much closer than they were a few years ago. From talking to folks last week in IC, Indiana might struggle a bit next year, but the Hoosiers could be pretty solid in 2011. I keep pointing to the defense. Until they get consistent play on that side of the ball, it will be hard to close out these games in the Big Ten.
Adam Rittenberg (Your Conscience )
Hello Adam, this is your brain talking to you. How long do we think it will be before the Big 10 becomes legitimate again? Yes, yes, I know we are still contenders. But do we believe these young teams may be the resurgence of the Big 10? (OSU, UM, Purdue, Badgers, among others)
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
This is a little creepy, dude. ... You know, all it takes is one good bowl season for things to turn around. If the matchups fall right this winter and the Big Ten pulls off an upset or two, the arrow could be pointed up. But I like the way several programs are headed from a recruiting standpoint, so things should get better in the next year or so.
Dos Equis guy (Halloween) (Ohio- Best place to be in 2 weeks)
Since it seems like the evolution of the collegiate game is changing as a whole. Do you think the BIG Ten will start to migrate to the speed game instead of constant smash mouth football? We're beginning to start to play some bigger OOC games against this speed teams, am I reaching too far or is this a possibility?
Adam Rittenberg (4:27 PM)
Are you The Most Interesting Man In The World? If so, what an honor! Now if I disagree with you, it means that I'm wrong, right? ... Yes, the Big Ten needs to get faster at certain spots, and I think you'll see it at places like Michigan and Purdue with a greater emphasis on recruiting the south. But the bigger issue in this league is quarterback play. It has been terrible since 2007 and must get better for the league to improve as a whole.
Ryan (Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA)
Would it be possible for Iowa to get into the title game by crushing the remaining 3 opponents by 20+ points? Would this win over the voters and the nation that Iowa is for real? (This is college football and we all know fans love hypotheticals.)
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
Ryan, there's a chance, and that's why I wrote Wednesday that Iowa should root for Ohio State to beat Penn State. The Buckeyes would then move into the top 15, giving Iowa another chance for a signature road win. If Iowa completes its road schedule by pounding Ohio State in Columbus, public opinion would begin to change a bit.
My brain exploded sometime in the 3rd quarter of the Michigan/Illinois, the presence of family and young trick or treaters preventing a profanity laced tirade which would have doubtlessly left my television with a giant hole in it. The safety and LB play is beyond terrible, yet why does the defense at times look so disorganized? Yes Carr's 2005-07 recruiting classes turned into a lot of - ahem, excrement - on that side of the ball, but there comes a time when you coach what you gots....and I am just not seeing that right now.
Adam Rittenberg (4:31 PM)
I understand your frustration, Blair. The number of breakdowns for Michigan's defense has been astounding this season. The players talked before the season about improved communication between all three units on defense, but I just don't see it. Now they are still very young there and lack talent, but they shouldn't be this bad.
Adam speaking of hypothetical, what do you see an opening line of a Duck/Hawkeye rose bowl, now way the ducks open less than a 10 point favorite.
Adam Rittenberg (4:33 PM)
I've learned not to predict what Vegas would do, but I would imagine Iowa fans won't be happy with the line there. Oregon has looked so good on offense, plus the Ducks are playing closer to home and the Big Ten has been miserable in Pasadena as of late.
Mac (Huntington, WV)
Did the announcement that Illinois wouldn't fire Zook play any factor in their upset last week?
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
I think the team relaxed a bit as a whole. Juice Williams told me he felt much more at ease and just let loose and tried not to worry so much about making mistakes. Illinois has been too tightly wound this season, especially after such a bad start. Perhaps things turn around here a bit down the stretch.
This season can't be considered anything but a failure for Ohio State, right?
Adam Rittenberg (4:35 PM)
Howard, the season can be salvaged if the Buckeyes win out. It will give them another Big Ten title and their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1997, which is no small accomplishment. No one expected Ohio State to contend for the national title this year (next season is the big one), but a three-loss season with no BCS bowl would be disappointing.
Jake (Honolulu, HI)
I see you're going to be in the virtual Pressbox today, any predictions for the game? Any chance ECU can win on their spin at the the ACC Wheel of Destiny?
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
Thanks for noticing, and yes, I will be in the Virtual Pressbox from 8-8:30 p.m. ET. Join myself and non-BCS expert Graham Watson ... Virginia Tech certainly sounds emotionally wounded after the UNC loss last week. East Carolina will be fired up at home, but I think the Hokies respond.
Bryan Gardiner (State College, PA)
Hey Adam-love the blog, What do you think Darryl Clark has to do this weekend against OSU to get any Heisman respect? Or is it a lost cause by now?
Adam Rittenberg (4:38 PM)
Bryan, it's going to be tough for Daryll to get back in the race so late in the season. However, if he goes for 300 pass yards and 4 TDs against the nation's sixth-best defense, he'll start to get noticed. Really only one bad game for DC this year, and the interceptions weren't all his fault.
I've read that Robinson is out for the year and thats mostly all I keep hearing. But today I read that the team is still hopeful Robinson makes it back for the OSU game. Have you heard anything other than Robinson being out for the rest of the year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
I wouldn't expect Robisnon back before a bowl game. He's got a high ankle sprain, which typically takes at least four weeks to heal. If Brandon Wegher performs well Saturday, he'll be the guy. I really don't think Robinson will be back next week.
IF Iowa gets spanked at OSU, how far do they drop? Penn State is overrated too.
Adam Rittenberg (4:41 PM)
Ah, Paul, the resident Big Ten hater from Cali. Nice to see you're here again. Let's see, if Iowa loses next week, it probably drops to around No. 10 or 11. We'll see about Penn State this weekend. Hard to tell much about the Lions to this point.
Herky (Iowa City)
How does that guy from Hawaii get so many questions in?!Ok that doesn't count....How well do you see the Hawks playing next year when they return 19 of 22 starters?
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
Iowa should be very good again, but I'm always leery about looking ahead and proclaiming "Next year is The Year!" In many cases, The Year comes a year early. Iowa will be targeted throughout 2010, so this might be the Hawks' best season. Not trying to be negative, but I've seen too many cases where the big season comes a year earlier than everyone expected.
Trent (Kansas City)
Adam, isn't it ironic that Delany has been pretty quiet during all of this controversy this year? Is he wishing he had a different opinion about playoffs right about now?
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
I think Jim is waiting to see how it all plays out, like the rest of us. But I'm going to try and get in touch with him soon.
I want to see the Big 10 and Pac 10 play for the National title!!! That would be AWSOME and more meaningful than any other game!
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
Do we believe him, guys?
You wrote at length about 2 Big 10 BCS bids at the start of the season being a bad thing but haven't answered any questions about it recently. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
I still think it wouldn't be ideal for the Big Ten, especially given how weak the bottom half of the league appears to be. I mean, you could have a 6-6 Minnesota team or a 6-6 Michigan team playing in the Alamo Bowl. That's a scary thought. But the more I look at things, two BCS teams from the Big Ten still looks likely.
Adam to Adam. Will ND ever join a conference, or do they make to much money being independent?
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
Money, money, money. Too much of it to pass up, Adam. Notre Dame ain't going nowhere unless someone makes them.
You and everyone keep saying its hard to tell where PSU is this season, everyone said that before Michigan it was going to be the test, but after we beat them everyone dismissed Michigan as terrible. So much flip flopping in the media........If you can't tell where we are how can you tell where OSU is when they have had a similar schedule?
Adam Rittenberg (4:49 PM)
A lot of Nittany Lions fans are ticked at me about this. Like I wrote before, it's not Penn State's fault, but this season really hasn't been too revealing because of the schedule and the Big Ten being down. I knew much more about Penn State last year at this point than this season ... As for Ohio State, I know they're a team with some significant issues on offense and a very solid defense. They're limited in many ways ... Penn State might not be very limited. But we won't know more until the Nits play the Buckeyes.
Seth (Washington, DC)
Hey Adam...so let's say you're Indiana. You've just blown two huge leads in consecutive games. Do you come out like a buzzsaw against Wisconsin, or do you shed a few more tears and wimper your way to a loss at home?
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
Good question, Seth. I think Indiana comes out strong. The leadership on that team is too good to let things fall apart. But Wisconsin will wear down Indiana in the second half. Not having Ray Fisher at cornerback and on returns will hurt.
Who has the tougher schedule in your opinion, Texas or Iowa?
Adam Rittenberg (4:52 PM)
Iowa, hands down. Texas' road schedule doesn't come close to what Iowa has had to endure. No matter how "down" the Big Ten might be, it's never easy to win in State College, Madison, East Lansing and Columbus.
Which Big-10 teams would be selected over boise (or TCU) for a BCS spot? I could see Ohio State (again), or Penn State, but I don't think that Iowa (if they lose a few) or Wisconsin (if they win out) would be selected over a top-6 Boise or TCU. This is assuming that ND loses again and USC doesn't run the table, because I do realize that both those teams would snatch up the last spot if they win out (in spite of the injustice of it all).
Adam Rittenberg (4:54 PM)
Nate, here's the deal. If Boise doesn't get the automatic berth over TCU, it will have a tough time beating out any Big Ten team. The Big Ten travels extremely well, and the bowl folks absolutely love the Big Ten. Honestly, I think Penn State would get in over USC. Notre Dame is the team to watch in this scenario. The Irish are about the only team that could knock the Big Ten out of an at-large berth.
What is the status of Royster returning for his senior season? will he test the NFL draft?
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
I talked to him this spring and he's definitely considering coming out early, but I don't know if this season has helped him enough. Since he's thinking about it, you can't write it off, but I bet there's a decent chance he comes back.
Adam Rittenberg (4:56 PM)
By the way, Mike Kafka is not listed on Northwestern's injury report, which just came out. Good news for NU.
Troy (Montrose, CA)
How many times does the Big Ten have to go 0-2 in BCS Bowls before the BCS wises up and stop inviting 2 Big Ten teams?
Adam Rittenberg (4:57 PM)
Troy, as long as there's money to be made, BCS bowls will invite Big Ten teams because they have the biggest fan bases and are most willing to travel. It might not make sense, but it's about the dollars (I'll be here all night).
Craig Bursch (Duluth, MN)
Adam:Minnesota got rid of Glen Mason after too many 7-5 seasons. Now it looks like Tim Brewster is on his way to a 2nd consectutive season in that range. Do the Gophers have hope to get to the 8 to 9 win range in 2010 or 2011? Or should I just be happy that we're not back in the 1980s and 1990s 4 win era? Thank you.
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
It's a good question, Craig. Brewster has recruited better than Mason, and the team is playing tougher non-league opponents (Cal this year, USC and Texas in the future). Next year will be interesting for the Gophers. The strong recruiting will need to pay off for Brewster because he loses a lot of seniors, including all three LBs. There's some positive momentum up there, but Brewster needs to get consistent results from his own guys.
Adam Rittenberg (5:00 PM)
One last one ...
Adam C (Harrisburg, PA)
Who pays you more, Subway or ESPN? Just kidding, love the coverage.
Adam Rittenberg (5:01 PM)
I wonder if Jar ed needs a stunt double. I could use some extra dollars.
Adam Rittenberg (5:01 PM)
Have a good one, everyone, and enjoy the games this weekend!