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 guys, I'm here. Let's get started.
Why did Zook kick that feild goal on 4th down on saturday I dont get it?........Why did Brewster run the ball on 1st with so little time left I dont get it?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Mike, I disagreed with both decisions, too. Zook had confidence his defense could get another stop against a banged-up Terrelle Pryor. But you still need a touchdown at some point. ... Minnesota had been running the ball well most of the game, and I guess Jeff Horton thought it would catch Northwestern off-guard. It didn't, and it changed the entire series of plays.
Alan (Columbus, OH)
Hi Adam. Why all of the national dismissing towards Ohio State because of one mediocre game where one of the top defensive players went out and TP was limited the second half of the game. Do you think this proves that the national media simply looks at stats and doesn't watch the games? This is perpetuated by Forde saying yesterday that TP was inconsistent and cited his passing yards against Illinois, not mentioning that OSU was running the ball on 3rd and 15 because of the injury.
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Alan, Pryor's injury certainly was a major factor, but I really challenge fans to have a broader perspective and understand that you can't watch everything coast to coast on a Saturday. Rankings are largely determined by what catches your eye. Oregon caught my eye with its play Saturday. So did Alabama. Ohio State didn't. But it's only one week. A strong performance this week against Indiana should make it all go away. No one is dismissing the Buckeyes.
Greg Jones (East Lansing)
I keep hearing all this talk about about D-Rob and how good the Michigan offense is, but I'm the best linebacker in the big ten. What do I gotta do to shut everybody up?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Prevent the explosion plays, Greg. Robinson is going to get his yards, but he can't get the runs of 50 yards or more where no one can catch him. You need to continue to take great angles to the football and wrap up. You're fast enough to keep Robinson in check near the line. But if he gets in the open field, no one is catching him.
Mike McQueary (State College, PA)
Adam, love the blog. Why didn't Joe call a timeout at the end of the first half with 6 seconds to go? We could have thrown one into the end-zone on a 3 step drop and if it failed, just kick the 3....
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Well, Mike, he always seems to be asking you what's going on in games, so maybe you should have been more persuasive. Just kidding. ... I don't think Penn State wanted to risk an interception there and wanted to emerge with something on the scoreboard.
Chances Iowa-AZ rematch in the Rose Bowl
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Cole, there's a chance, but I'm not totally sold on Arizona, which barely beat a bad Cal team on its home field. I still think Oregon and Stanford are 1-2 in the Pac-10.
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
The other thing to keep in mind is the new Rose Bowl policy about taking a non-AQ team if the Big Ten or Pac-10 champ goes to the national title game.
I think michigan is just a piece away from a complete offense and thats a running to step up. Do you see any running backs stepping up this weekend against msu?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Daniel, I thought Vincent Smith played well despite limited carries against Indiana. Getting Michael Shaw and Fitz Toussaint back in the mix should help as well. It certainly would take some pressure off of Denard Robinson.
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
And, just as I type that, I see on Twitter than RichRod is optimistic Michael Shaw returns this week. Good news for U-M.
Denard Robinson (Ann Arbor)
I keep hearing about Greg Jones, and what a great tackler he is, but I'm the best QB in the Big Ten. What do I have to be concerned about most playing Sparty? Just how good is their D line and Secondary?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
You should definitely be concerned about Jones and the LBs. They're all good tacklers who take good angles to the ball, unlike some of the IU players last week. The Michigan State D-line also is performing better than expected, while I still have some doubts about the secondary. You can exploit the pass against the Spartans.
Drew (Evanston, IL)
Hi Adam, This may be a difficult question to answer, but it seems to me that teams end up getting more credit for close wins than more convincing ones. This seems most evident with MSU this season as they seem to have gotten more credit for the overtime win against ND then a more impressive win over a better Wisconsin team. Obviously the "Little Giants" play and it being Notre Dame had something to do with it, but this seems to be pretty common across college football. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Drew, I totally disagree, my friend. Ask Ohio State how much credit it got from a "close" win against Illinois. And while no one will forget the ending to MSU-ND, the Spartans got a lot more credit for beating a ranked Wisconsin team. Impressive wins matter way more than close ones. It's why Oregon moved up in the polls this week and Alabama became even more solid at No. 1
Ryan (Ferndale, Mi)
Any positive news for Purdue? Losing the QB, WR and RB to season ending injuries must be rough
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Definitely rough, Ryan, but Purdue is getting healthier at running back as guys like Al-Terek McBurse, Keith Carlos and Jared Crank had a chance to heal during the bye week. The offensive line also has held up nicely, and Rob Henry has had some time now to prepare to be the starter. But it's still a very tough situation.
TP (TOSU Universty)
With me being banged up this week do you see any of my boys in the backfield stepping up and running hard, or are they going to be wimps and fall down at the line like they have all year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Wow, TP, where's the love for your teammates? Dan Herron came in and did a nice job at the end of the Illinois game. This week will be a good chance for the backs to break out, as Indiana hasn't been able to stop the run all season. If Saine, Herron and the others can't get going against IU, I'd start to get worried.
Ron Zook (Illinois)
What are my chances of getting a victory this weekend at Penn State?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Better than they looked at the start of the season, Ron. Your defense is playing better and better under Vic Koenning, and Penn State has some major issues on offense right now, particularly in the red zone. The game will come down to whether your young QB and the offense can move the ball and score points against the Lions. But you definitely have a shot.
John (Madison Wi)
Why is wisconsin giving more and more carries to James White? Personally I think they should be giving more to john clay, who hasnt had a 20-30 carry game. I believe if they gave him that amount of carries we could regain last years form and become a dangorous team again. What do you think they should do?
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
John, I thought the same thing before the Michigan State game and it's still a valid argument: keep feeding Clay until he wears down an opposing defense. But it's becoming clear that Clay isn't in the type of shape he needs to be to carry the ball that many times. He still looks too big, and he hasn't been able to break away for long gains like James White. Until he shows that ability, you'll continue to see a mix of carries.
By the way, to all the big ten posters, Wisconsin is not as impressive as Notre Dame. Wisconsin is a middle of the pack Big 10 team at best.
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Ha! Thanks, Mike, for giving us all a good laugh.
Adam, do you realize it took a Justin Zwick shoulder injury for Troy Smith to play at Ohio State (and Smith had been playing better in the weeks leading)? That being said, is that what it's literally going to take for Saine or Herron to get overtaken by Hall and Berry? Same goes for Bauserman?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Loyalty can be a dangerous thing, but Jim Tressel isn't closing his eyes in practice, either. He sees the progress and makes determinations based off of it. If the running backs don't get going against Indiana, I think we'll see some changes.
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Then again, Dan Herron had a pretty solid game against Illinois.
Predict the final score between MSU vs UM and Why?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
Sorry, you have to wait until Thursday at 9 a.m. ET. But I can tell you it'll be a close game.
Tim Brewster (Minneapolis)
Do you think Gopher fans are buying my "we should be 5-0" speaches or should I apply for Mall Cops at the Mall of America? At least I'd get to stay on tv right?...
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Wow, harsh. You shouldn't have trouble motivating your team for Wisconsin this week. But if you fall short, I think it'll be really tough to get the guys up for the rest of the season.
You ranked OSU below Oregon this week and I struggle with why. You (and many other writers)must have short term memory issues. One week earlier OSU put up 73 (on EMU mind you)while Oregon gave up 600yds while struggling to beat an ASU team that had almost 100yds in penalties and 7 turnovers!
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Dal, that's a fair point, but Oregon also has played a tougher schedule than Ohio State, facing three teams from AQ conferences (Tennessee, Stanford, ASU) vs. two for Ohio State (Miami, Illinois). I'll make a deal with the Ohio State fans who are SO UPSET over Week 5 power rankings: go out and thump Indiana, and I'll move the Buckeyes back to No. 2.
Ken O'Keefe (Iowa City, IA)
I've taken a lot of flack for my "conservative" play calling against Penn State. I know fans want me to "put teams away" but I don't want unneccessary risks of injuries or turnovers. Are my decisions to "play it safe" good for the team but bad for moving us in the polls, or bad for morale in general?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Ken, I understand your strategy. Iowa fans probably will never like you. Deal with it. But Kirk Ferentz likes you enough to keep you on his staff all these years, and that's all that matters. You are an offensive coordinator who fits his personality and what he wants to do. And I wouldn't worry about the polls. All that matters is winning a Big Ten championship and getting to the Rose Bowl.
I will be very interested to see how Mike Martin plays on Saturday. Kid is an absolute monster and could cause Sparty some problems. If (a big if, I realize) Michigan can cause Cousins to get happy feet (and force his tendency to brain cramp under pressure), they can forse turnovers.
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Blair, it's a huge key for Martin and Michigan's defensive line to pressure Kirk Cousins. I would load up the line and blitz a lot because Cousins can make mistakes under pressure, and I don't trust the Michigan secondary to make enough plays in coverage. Martin needs to be a major factor for the U-M defense.
@Adam: Stanford and ASU happen to be conference games. I would expect then that if OSU beats Iowa, Wisco, PSU, and UM you'll be ranking them over Oregon?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Yep, that's how it works, Jim. Then again, it all depends on how the two leagues look as well.
Ryan Kerrigan (West Lafayette)
Am I the first Big Ten player drafted next April?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
You or Iowa's Adrian Clayborn. Both you guys are first-round picks in my mind.
Don't be so quick to sell out Arizona. The 'Cats had a predictable let down after their biggest home win in a decade and the defense shut down a Cal offense that had put up 52,52 and 31 in it's previous three weeks.
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Eh, the letdown was predictable I guess, but Cal's defense looked woeful against Nevada. If Cal had a decent kicker, Arizona would have lost. But you probably shouldn't listen to me vent on Cal. I grew up out there and I'm sick and tired of seeing the same movie every year under Tedford.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Adam, if that's how it works, then why were these teams ranked they way were in the preseason? It's not like the schedules have magically changed. The preseason polls are ridiculous and are hurting the game as much as the BCS is. I don't care how many ESPN insider subscriptions they sell.
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Lou, I share your views on the preseason polls. Have always hated them, but they're probably not going anywhere.
Scott (Reno, NV)
Any chance of the Penn State-Temple rematch in the Little Caesers Bowl in December?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Wow, I don't see all those other bowls passing on Penn State and its sizable fan base, Scott. I'm sure Temple would be thrilled to be there, but Penn State certainly would not.
With the struggles at Purdue, Minn., and Illinois, and the sometimes questionable health of JoePa, how many coaching changes do you see next year in the Big Ten(12), and will Mike Leach be one of the new hires?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
I'm not sure if Leach wants to coach in the Big Ten, but he should have an opportunity. I see at least one coaching change in the league, if not two. Paterno's health seems to be better now, but it's always a question whether he'll be back or not.
What are the chances that Indiana can pull off an upset this weekend?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Chris, it all comes down to the defense. If IU can slow down Ohio State's run and make Terrelle Pryor, who might not be 100 percent, win the game, the Hoosiers might have a shot. IU certainly has the receivers to attack an Ohio State secondary playing without Tyler Moeller. The chances aren't great for an upset, especially on the road, but it should be an interesting game.
Mike (St Louis)
Yo Rittenberg, Northwestern is back home this weekend. I was in Evanston for the Central Michigan game and there were actually people in the stands (at least relative to our normal non-conference attendance). They also started a new 4th quarter tradition complete with a video board announcement from Fitz. It's cheesy, but it was more energy than normal. Do you think Ryan Field could ever develop into a consistent home field atmosphere?
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Mike, it'll take some time, but Northwestern is finally investing money into marketing its program. Living in Chicago, I hear and see a lot more ads for people to come out to Ryan Field. New marketing chief Mike Polisky was an excellent hire, but he's told me several times that it'll take a while. Northwestern also must keep winning.
Adrian Clayborn (Iowa)
Do you think I'm back on track after my game against Penn St.?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
You've played well all season, A-Clay, but you showed up in a big way against Penn State, blowing up the Lions' offensive line. This was around the time last season when you started to emerge. It'll be interesting to see how you do against a good Michigan offensive line next week.
Alex (San Diego)
A lot of people are saying Ohio State doesn't have that Beanie Wells, Maurice Clarett tailback. How do we really know when the coaching staff only gives carries to two tailbacks and Terrelle Pryor? Obviously, Boom and Zoom aren't those backs (since they've had 2-3 seasons), but no one knows about the other four backs.
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
Alex, I understand your frustration and you're certainly not alone among Buckeyes fans. But you have to trust the coaches and what they've seen in practice. If they see the potential for Berry or Hall to become featured guys, they would play them more. Jim Tressel's staff has been around long enough to know when loyalty shouldn't trump playing the better guy.
Chris (Iowa City)
Is there still hope for Wisc and Penn.St?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
I think so, Chris. Both teams have home games this week that they "should" win to regain some confidence. Wisconsin's offense simply should be executing at a much higher level. I've been very disappointed with that group so far, given all the talent and experience. Penn State's offense remains a work in progress, but there's enough talent there with guys like Devon Smith to spark things. Wisconsin definitely can get on track by beating Illinois and then Ohio State, while Penn State simply needs to show more life on offense.
Mike (Atlanta, GA)
Always enjoy your blog, Adam. Is the Big Ten finally closing the gap on the SEC as a powerhouse conference once again?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
It's hard to say. The Big Ten looks deeper than many folks thought before the season, and the Big Ten also is a more offense-driven league than we've seen in recent years. Alabama is the best team in the country right now, period. But I look at the teams after Bama -- Auburn, LSU, Arkansas and Florida -- and think the Big Ten certainly could hold its own. So I guess the answer is yes, but we won't know for sure until the bowls.
Brian (Somewhere in a cornfield)
If MSU beats UofM this weekend do you see MSU being the top contender to O$U or is it still the Hawks?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Depends on how Michigan State looks. If the Spartans soundly beat Michigan and contain Denard Robinson, their case to challenge Ohio State will be strengthened. But I still really like Iowa, especially after what I saw on defense last week. The Hawkeyes are still No. 2 on my board in the league.
As much as Wiconsin's offense is getting heat, Wisconsin has a chance to win against MSU if they can get a stop defensively. I'll take the Badgers on O if they can get better play from their secondary.
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Andy, that's a good point, but Wisconsin's secondary made its share of plays in the first half, recording two interceptions and a fumble recovery. And yet the Badgers still trailed by 10 points at half. That tells me the offense isn't getting it done. Plus, the defense has an excuse: no Chris Borland. The offense should be doing a lot bettter.
Greg Robinson (Ann Arbor)
What can I do to my defense, so I can keep my job?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Teach young players how to take proper angles to the football. It comes down to fundamentals, not schemes. And right now, your defense isn't executing the basics.
Adam, is the Heisman Robinson's to loose. Even if he has several bad games, his current numbers pretty much have him locked in as the winner right?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
No, no, no. People still wonder how Robinson will fare against better defenses. His performances against teams like Iowa, Penn State and Ohio State definitely will factor into whether he hoists the Heisman. And other players like Boise's Kellen Moore and Oregon's LaMichael James remain very much in the mix.
Clint (New Lexington, OH)
Is it possible for Indiana to move the ball against OSU this weekend with some consistency? Chappel looked good against a very weak Michigan secondary, but made good read after good read and didn't force the issue.
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Clint, Chappell looked great against Michigan and really has looked great all season. Big Ben Chappell fan here. But Indiana also must run the ball against Ohio State, and the run game has been a little inconsistent. Darius Willis will be a huge key on Saturday in C-bus.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, last one ...
Ben (West Des Moines)
Will the bye week kill any Iowa momentum?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
I don't think so, Ben. Iowa needs the rest, especially RB Adam Robinson. But recent history has shown that teams struggle after bye weeks around the Big Ten.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, that's it. Talk to you next week.