Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at noon ET!
Adam Rittenberg (12:00 PM)
Hey everyone, I'm here. Big Ten play kicks off this week, and so does the chat!
Norm Parker's Doctor (Iowa City, IA)
Do you see Penn State's offense, and Royster specifically, suddenly turning things on or was Temple the fluke for the young QB and Royster?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Well Doc, hope Norm is doing better, first and foremost. Will be good to see him back soon. I don't think Royster's performance was a fluke at all. He's an All-Big Ten caliber back, as he's shown the last few seasons, and Temple has a pretty stout defense. The concerns are still there in the red zone, though. If Penn State can't start punching it in for touchdowns, it'll be a tough Big Ten season.
For as poor as Michigans defense has been playing do you think that Rich Rod got off the hot seat and placed Greg Robbins on it?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Franklin, there's a long way to go for both coaches. Rodriguez has to feel good about the offense, and his success is directly tied to Denard Robinson, a player who is performing at an elite level in large part because of Rodriguez's offense. Michigan defense has time to turn things around, but they've got to get better as the year goes along for Robinson's sake.
JAC (NE Ohio)
Given Eastern Michigan's passing success last week, should there be real concern about OSU's pass defense going into the Big 10 ? Maybe not this week but perhaps Indiana could be a problem for them.
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
JAC, I was a little surprised to see Eastern Michigan score 20 on Saturday. Ohio State doesn't have a shut-down secondary this year. There isn't a Malcolm Jenkins or a Donte Whitner on the field. But Ohio State's trademark is bend but don't break and force turnovers. Tyler Moeller has been a big playmaker already. I would be a bit concerned about the Indiana pass attack, but I can't see IU slowing down Pryor and the offense.
Adam, I have a feeling the Badgers will finally play at the level they should have all year! We are expected to get both Gilreth and Toon back, and looking at the non conference results it seemed to me the badgers played down to the level of their competition. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Josh, I think there's some truth to your argument, especially in the first two games. You can look at the Arizona State game two ways: Wisconsin was lucky or Wisconsin took a step by fighting through some real adversity. I do agree that Nick Toon's return (and possibly Gilreath's) really helps the offense with greater balance. Lance Kendricks has been terrific as the No. 1 wide receiver, but he's still a tight end, and Wisconsin is better with Toon on the field.
Jesse (Madison, WI)
Surprised to see Clay off of your OPTY list for the Big Ten. I realize he has no marquee performance, but he is fifth in the nation in rushing while being rested for Big Ten play. What gives?
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
The quarterbacks have been simply more impressive, that's all. Not a knock against Clay or Michigan State's Edwin Baker, but I can't just ignore what the quarterbacks have been doing so far this season. There's a long way to go, and I'd be surprised if a running back or two doesn't climb back into contention.
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
I should mention Iowa's Adam Robinson and Illinois' Mikel LeShoure as two other RBs who could contend for offensive player of the year.
Tom (Westwood, NJ)
Adam, what do you think is wrong with Penn State's d-line? On paper, it should be pretty good. But they aren't getting any kind of pressure on passing downs, though run defense has been decent. I was expecting Crawford to be more of a force, especially against weaker competition.
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Tom, I agree. I think we're all waiting for that breakout performance from Crawford. Pete Massaro has a really nice game against Temple, pressuring the QB to force one of the INTs. Penn State certainly misses Jared Odrick in the middle, although the run defense has been fine. It's critical, though, for the Lions to pressure Ricky Stanzi on Saturday night.
Spencer (Columbus OH)
I just so happen to be a student at OSU, getting married on Oct 16th. Should I make plans to wrap up the reception by 7? Or do you think I should have faith in the Buckeyes taking care of business?
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Wow, tough question. Who scheduled your wedding, Spencer? You should have waited for the bye week, my man. I think you should enjoy your wedding no matter what, but have some of your groomsmen tracking the Ohio State-Wisconsin game. Badgers have lost only three home games under Bret Bielema, although one was to the Bucks in 2008. Should be a good one this year.
Jim (South Florida)
If I told you a Big Ten player will definitely win the Heisman this year, who would you bet it would be? Shoelace, Pryor, or Clay?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Jim, probably not Clay. He just isn't getting the national recognition right now, and time is running out because this award is based so largely on early hype. Robinson certainly is the Big Ten's frontrunner right now, but can if stay healthy? If he does, he's my pick to click. But Pryor is the most recognizable name on the best team. If he plays well in Big Ten game, he'll be right there.
Jake (Des Moines, IA)
Adam, I know you'll probably dismiss me as one of those overly optimistic(bordering on insane) Iowa fans, but if Iowa ran the Big 10 table and Alabama takes at least one loss, couldn't the NC still be in the picture? I mean, theoretically we would have beaten a top 10 Wisky team and potentially a #1 tOSU team(assuming Alabama has a loss). Obviously no one in the country wants to see a TCU v Boise State National Championship game so wouldn't Iowa have an outside chance?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Jake, you're forgetting about Arizona, the team that beat Iowa. If the Wildcats struggle in the Pac-10, it hurts Iowa. If the Wildcats keep winning, they stay ranked ahead of Iowa. That's the biggest obstacle for the Hawkeyes, plus a host of other potential undefeated teams like Nebraska.
Purdue Basketball (Indiana)
All the bad luck (injuries) for the football team means good luck for us this year, right? Karma anyone?
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Gosh, I hope so. Definitely looking forward to seeing Robbie Hummel back on the court. I covered Purdue's first game after his injury, and it was UGLY. It has been a brutal stretch of bad luck for Danny Hope's crew, as we await official word on QB Robert Marve ...
Keyshawn Martin (East Lansing)
I can't wait to get the ball against Wisconsin's 'special' teams this weekend ... any reason for me to not be excited?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Well, Shelton Johnson could track you down at the 1-yard line like he did against Arizona State, but you should have some opportunities to make plays Saturday, Keshawn. Kick coverage has not been Wisconsin's strong suit the last few years.
Ryan (Jacksonville, Fl)
If you go strictly by numbers Stanzi's are right there with Pryors, if not better so far.
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
You're clearly not factoring in the rushing totals, Ryan. Stanzi has been very, very good so far. I'm extremely impressed. But Pryor and Denard Robinson bring another element to the table.
Starting this weekend with MSU the Badgers go in to 4 game stretch of games that should be competitive. Historically the Badgers have never played well in the state of Michigan, have some close games with MN, recently have had battles with OSU and play some what shaky football in Iowa... where do you see the Badgers record after these 4 games?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Rich, I can't see Wisconsin running the table, especially without LB Chris Borland, its best defensive player and best all-around player. It all depends on Saturday. If Wisconsin wins, I see 3-1. If Wisconsin loses, I see 2-2.
Adonis Smith (Evanston, IL)
Since my team seems to be having so much difficulty establishing the run, do you think it's time for Pat Fitzgerald to bite the bullet and burn my redshirt? Don't I deserve a try?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Adonis (love that name), I was surprised you didn't get a shot in one of the last two games, to be honest. Either the coaches don't think you're ready or Fitz is continuing his practice of redshirting just about everybody. It's Mike Trumpy's turn this week at Minnesota. If he struggles, you have to wonder if Northwestern has a Big Ten-caliber running back, and if you're it.
Colin (Iowa City)
Maybe I am alone but I think Indiana has a very good chance to take Michigan down this week. Should the Wolverines be on upset alert this weekend?
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Colin, Michigan should be very aware of Indiana's pass game and QB Ben Chappell. Indiana's biggest strength (pass offense) is Michigan's biggest weakness (pass defense). I really don't think Indiana can slow down Denard Robinson, but if he gets banged up again, I'd start to be concerned.
Dane Sanzenbacher (Columbus)
Am I the next Wes Welker, Austin Collie, Jordan Shipley type player? I'm smart, a team leader, pick up on things quickly, and play my heart out. I receive no national approval.
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Dane, you receive love from the Big Ten blog, my friend. Maybe not national, but regional, at least. I'm a big fan of yours and your big-play ability has shown up more as Terrelle Pryor evolves at quarterback. I know the Anthony Gonzalez comparisons are being made, and that's fair. If you can follow his path to the NFL, you'll be in great shape.
The BRADLey B (Sycamore, IL)
So wait... Adam... About the question Jim asked regaurding what Big Ten player would win the Heisman, what was your answer? Because you can't pick both. The machine always marks it as incorrect.
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Good call. If Denard Robinson stays healthy, he's my pick. I just don't think the voters will give Terrelle Pryor enough credit, even if he puts up good numbers. Pryor has always been victimized by the hype he generated as a recruit. Not saying it's right, but it's the truth.
Erica (Des Moines, Ia)
Hey Adam, love the work you do. You keep my sane at work, but not outta trouble. I just wanted to know how hard it was to pick Tressel over Ferentz in your building a program post. There both great coaches but wouldn't you have to give a slight edge to Ferentz, beings how he does so much with a lot less talent?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
Thanks, Erica. I originally had Ferentz as my pick before switching it. I love what Kirk does in a fairly tough situation at Iowa, but Tressel's overall success and dominance of the Big Ten was too strong to ignore. Everyone says it's easy at Ohio State. Well, why didn't John Cooper or Earle Bruce dominate Michigan or the Big Ten the way Tressel has. His teams are very consistent for the most part, and the guy has won big at two levels (FBS and FCS). It was a tough call, though.
DJK (Iowa City)
I'm about to break all sorts of records and then refuse to talk to you about it. Ahahahahaha
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
I know. And I'm not pleased about it, Derrell.
Do you think an undefeated Big 10 team would get in the national chamionship game over a undefeated Pac 10 team?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
If that team is Ohio State, then yes. If that team is Wisconsin, then maybe. If it's any other Big Ten team and the Pac-10 squad we're talking about it Oregon or possibly Stanford, probably not.
What's to be said about Clayborns 'lack' of production. He's not putting up number anywhere close to what he did last year. Is it double teams thats causing it or was last year just a lucky year for him?
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
No, no, no. Definitely the double teams, Brandon. He's getting them on almost every play. Look what Mike Daniels did last week or what Broderick Binns did against Zona. That's a result, at least in part, of how teams are approaching Clayborn.
Dizzle (Detroit, MI)
How much with MSU go up the rankings if they beat Wisconsin this saturday?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Good question, Dizzle, one I've been thinking about quite a bit. The voters don't seem to think much of Wisconsin, keeping the Badgers at No. 11 despite Texas' loss and a 70-3 Wisconsin win. I'd imagine Michigan State would enter the top 20, probably 16-18.
Dan (South Bend, IN)
Hi Adam! Any news yet on names for divisions, trophies, etc.? Delaney said it would be next on the agenda about a month back.
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Dan, I spoke briefly with Jim Delany about this on Saturday, and he said the division names haven't been discussed much at all and likely won't get done until around Dec. 1.
Les (Erie, PA)
How much a factor is it having a good hands TE to throw to on 3rd long for Penn St? Seems to me that they are missing that critical part of the offense this year that they had last season with Quarless and Shuler. Gilliam had a clutch 1st down catch against Temple? Do he have what it takes to be that caliber of TE?
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
Les, good point about the tight end situation. Quarless and Shuler were bigger losses than many people thought. And you look at the way Penn State is struggling to score TDs in the red zone right now, the Lions certainly could use a veteran tight end. I need to see more of Gilliam before projecting him where Quarless was at the end of his career.
Is Cousins ready to win in the clutch? If the game comes down to the wire Saturday, how do you feel about Kirk leading a game winning drive?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Corey, it's one of many interesting things I'll be watching Saturday. Cousins has been very good for the most part, but he made some late-game mistakes last year, which made his low number of interceptions (9) stand out to a lot of folks. I think he'll have a chance to make plays in the clutch Saturday. I wasn't thrilled with what I saw from him late in the Notre Dame game.
Max (Evanston, IL)
Any chance NU will be ranked if they beat Minnesota on the road? Or do you think they need two big ten wins before cracking the top 25?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Max, I think the Wildcats need two wins to crack the polls, especially since they'll be favored the next two weeks. And most folks will still question their record even if they start 6-0. Just the way it is.
John (Bloomington IN)
Should michigan redshirt Devin Gardner next year? Tate looks like a viable backup over the next two years and it would be great to have Gardner with two years of playing time. He is already a stud just not as much as denard.
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
John, it's an interesting question. What if Forcier has come to camp totally prepared and claimed the backup job before the season? Maybe we wouldn't have seen Gardner so soon. It's something to consider if things keep going well for Michigan, but Rich Rodriguez will do what it takes to win this year, and given Denard Robinson's style of play, Michigan will need at least 2 QBs, if not 3.
Drew (Evanston, IL)
Hey Adam, what do you think about teams like Northwestern and Indiana scheduling relatively weak opponents in the Non-Conference? Doesn't it make sense just to pick up the easy wins to become bowl-eligible? When you're not playing for the National Championship does who you play out of conference really matter?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Drew, nonconference schedule strength doesn't matter much at all for teams from BCS AQ leagues. And you're right about Northwestern and Indiana. Jim Delany has talked to me about this, how important it is for some Big Ten programs to just build stability by making bowls. Northwestern has done so with seven bowl appearances since 1995, but Indiana has only one bowl appearances since 1993, making it all the more important to find a way to get to the postseason.
Tracy (Worthington, Ohio)
The No. 4 tailback at Ohio State has more yards this season than the No. 1 tailback, with more than 20 less carries. If the holes aren't gaping for OSU, does it seem like Brandon Saine or Boom Herron just don't have the ability to make people miss? Results and yards per carry don't lie.
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Tracy, the fact that Jaamal Berry has played mostly in mop-up time against defeated defenses or second and third stringers also must be taken into consideration. I agree that Saine and Herron need to step things up soon, and Berry and Jordan Hall could get a few carries earlier in games.
How could you even claim to have Sox ties yet root for the twins?
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Ha, it's nice to see my friends join the chat. I think it's a little more validating to lose to a team that actually does something in the playoffs, rather than falls flat on its face every time in the postseason. Then again, the 2005 World Series is something the Sox can always hold over the Twins. ... Hope you survived the Omaha marathon the other day.
Is the Hello Kitty statue ever going to make a cameo in your video blogs again?!??!?!?!
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Never. It has been destroyed.
Chris (Downtown Madtown)
Do you think that Delany is coming off as being done with expansion for the Big Ten, yet is secretly planning to take 3 schools from the Big East and in the process force Notre Dame into the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Chris, you can never say never with Jim Delany and big plans, but I really get the sense the presidents and ADs are thrilled with Nebraska and the current setup. I don't think we'll see much movement until movement happens elsewhere (i.e. the Pac-10).
Justin (Cherokee, IA)
Adam, i look forward to your blog daily, thanks for everything you do. As a Hawk fan I feel that I should be asking about the Penn St game, but something else has come to my attention. Michgains D-Rob has literally been running all over everyone, do you see that once Big Ten Play starts more teams will be able to shut him down with the run and make him pass more or is he still going to be able to continue to run the ball effectively?
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
Justin, Big Ten teams could contain Robinson better, but the thing that stands out to me is how little room he needs to make a huge play. Just look at the cutback TD run against Bowling Green, a play where Michigan missed a key block. The big thing will be whether teams can pressure Robinson as a passer and force interceptions. But I don't think he can be slowed down as a runner if he stays healthy. He even gashed Iowa pretty good last year late in the game.
Guz (Ithaca, NY)
Do the Hoosiers have a prayer of stopping Michigan's running game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Guz, Indiana should get senior LB Tyler Replogle back in the fold this week. He's really the leader on defense, and he'll be huge if IU wants to stop the Michigan run game.
Brett (King of Prussia, PA)
How much proof is in the pudding behind Michigan and MSU's 4-0 records right now? With only a lackluster Notre Dame team as a true measuring stick for both teams thus far, I think both teams still have quite a bit to prove in the next few weeks. Especially in Ann Arbor.
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
Brett, that's the beauty of Big Ten play. The same thing can be said for Michigan. When these three teams start to face Ohio State or Iowa, we'll learn a lot more.
Bob (Chicago, IL)
Adam, it seems like nobody is giving PSU a chance on Saturday. I know the offense has issues, but dont think you Iowa will have trouble scoring as well?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Bob, Penn State doesn't give up a lot of points, and Iowa will have to earn its way to the end zone. but I do like the matchup of Iowa's wide receivers and tight ends against Penn State's secondary, which still concerns me a little bit. If Ricky Stanzi gets time to throw, he'll attack downfield to DJK. It's critical for Penn State to pressure Stanzi.
David (New York)
Adam, please answer Guz's question. Telling us a LB will be huge if, doesn't answer the question
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Sorry, David, I thought he asked if IU had a player capable of stopping UM. He actually said prayer. My bad. Yes, IU has a prayer of stopping the Wolverines, but not much of one.
Stan (Waukegan, IL)
Adam - Not one thing here about OSU-Illinois. % chance the illini keep it close?
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Stan, if no one asks, I can't answer. It all comes down to Illinois' defense, which looks legitimately improved to me. If the D can force two or three turnovers from Pryor, and if Mikel LeShoure can run the ball effectively, Illinois should hang around.
Tim (Bloomington, Mn)
Will Brewster get fired mid-season if the losing keeps up, or is he here til December regardless?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Tim, I don't think Minnesota would make a change in the season, or at least until late in the season. There's still a long way to go and time for Brewster to get this thing turned around. Minnesota also has a retiring president and an AD waiting on a contract extension, not exactly the ideal time to be making a football coaching change.
Gary (Davenport, Iowa)
Adam, who you got in the Oregon - Stanford game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
I can't wait for that one, Gary. As much as it pains me to say it, growing up in Berkeley, Stanford has really impressed me so far this season. Should be a great one, and I'm taking Stanford with the road upset.
Eric (Lawrenceburg, IN)
Should i just start getting ready for the basketball season or do you think the Boilers can bounce back from all the injuries?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Eric, I'd never tell a Big Ten fan to give up on his or her team, and Purdue showed some good second-half resilience last season. But this will be extremely tough if Marve is out for the season. He's such a big part of what they do. Couple that with the continued struggles on defense, and I can't see too many good things ahead for the gold and black.
Ben (West Des Moines)
Which coaching situation is better Minnesota or Illinois I would guess both will be open. Minny has a new stadium, Illinois has Chicago to recruit but that gets cherry picked by ND, Iowa, and others.
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Ben, while TCF Bank Stadium is stunning, Illinois is the better job to me because of the recruiting advantages. Ron Zook proved he could get the top players in Chicago to join a weak program in Champaign. Illinois' recruiting classes haven't been the problem. And while Tim Brewster has recruited well to Minnesota as well, there are more disadvantages because of the location.
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
OK, guys, last one for the day ...
Dougie 101 (Mich)
Am I crazy in thinking that controlling the line of scrimmage is the way to beat Michigan? I worry about their front against teams like Iowa, OSU, etc. after dominating the OOC schedule.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Not crazy at all, Dougie. Michigan's offensive line is one of its biggest strengths, both with depth and experience. Like I said earlier, Denard Robinson doesn't need much of a crease to break into the open field, but if he has no room to run, that's a different story. So defensive line play from teams like Ohio State and Iowa could be the difference against Michigan.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, thanks for a great chat. Enjoy Big Ten play this weekend.