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 (12:01 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started.
Dev (Indianola, Iowa)
Whats the status on Wegher. We havent heard much...
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
No status change. He's not coming back this year, and Iowa fans need to just accept it. And as Kirk Ferentz said, he might not be coming back, period.
Tim (Myrle Beach)
How does osu get slammed for its schedule when it had 5 top 25 teams on its schedule, bama had 6. it seems the media jumps all over miami and psu droppingb out of top 25 but we dont hear a peep about it when its a team bama played(like psu)...OSU schedules a top 10 program for a non conf game EVERY year(tx usc miami...vt okl tenn to come....how many top programs even do that?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
It's still the Buckeye Backlash left over from the national title game flops. I strongly disagree with it, but it's there and likely will be there until Ohio State wins a national title. Ohio State's scheduling philosophy is fine and better than those from a lot of powerhouse programs. The other problem is if Ohio State beats Wisconsin and the Badgers fall out of the Top 25 this week or after next week (game at Iowa). There goes another "quality" win.
Josh (Madison, WI)
Adam, love the blog and chat, there is a lot of hype here in Madison as we get ready for the showdown on Saturday night. After the Badgers struggling so much when you have been at their games, including their only loss so far this year, I want to make sure you were told to stay away from Camp Randall this weekend.
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Ha! You're clearly aware of the Rittenberg Curse. It has been there since the start of the 2008 season. I can't say yet where I'll be this weekend, but whether I show up or not, Wisconsin needs to start beating some ranked opponents.
bowlby (east lansing)
so how do you feel the spartans match up against illinois?
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
It's a really interesting matchup. Two very good running teams. I give the passing edge to Michigan State for sure, but Illinois seems to have as good a defense as the Spartans. This is a classic trap game for MSU. The Spartans need to get up for it after two emotional wins.
The best thing that could happen for the Big Ten this season is if Ohio State plays Nebraska for the Nationall Championship and Ohio State wins. Agreed?
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
I don't think Jim Delany would mind this scenario one bit, Suzanne. At least you get it, unlike those who think a Nebraska title would be better for the Big Ten this year. It wouldn't.
Brandon (Grand Rapids, MI)
The UM/MSU game was MUCH closer than the final score would indicate. By my count, UM left 3 TD's on the field that would have given them the win. Those 3 lost TD's were also not really a result of dominant MSU play, but a result of sloppy forced play on the part of UM. If I were an MSU fan, I'd be humbly thanking my lucky stars that those UM possessions didn't turn into scores...not declaring the inferiority of UM football.
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Brandon, I agree with you to a certain extent. Michigan stopped Michigan more than Michigan State stopped Michigan. The Spartans deserve credit for making Michigan snap it again and preventing the big runs from Denard, but Michigan would have been right there at the end if not for the INTs.
Adam, Love the blog man....eat it up everyday at work (don't tell my boss). Quick question, with unbeatens beginning to fall and many of them still having to play one another, isn't this potentially a year where a 1 loss team could squeak into the title game (ex: Iowa). My focus, like many Iowa fans, is definitely the Rose Bowl; but, if unbeaten teams continue to lose down the stretch which is very possible (Oregon, LSU, Auburn, maybe Boise OR TCU), doesn't a team with a loaded back half of the schedule have a great shot? I know that we no longer control our own destiny (except the Big Ten)...but its fun to think about!
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Thanks, Mark. I just don't see it for IOwa, and here's why: the Arizona loss looks worse after the Wildcats fell last week at home, and I think that loss could look even worse in November. Iowa is a better team than Arizona but didn't show up that night until the second half. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, people look at who you lose to, and Iowa won't get much credit for losing to Arizona. My advice: focus on the Rose Bowl. You haven't been there since 1991.
Jay (Bloomington, IN)
In your opinion, as we reach the halfway point of the season, what Big Ten teams will not be going to a bowl game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Minnesota is the only team I can definitely say won't be going bowling. I was ready to put Purdue in that category, but the Boilers surprised us all with a big win at Northwestern. Purdue gets Minnesota at home this week at could improve to 4-2 (2-0). Penn State's bowl fortunes don't look good as the schedule doesn't get much easier in the second half. Teams like Northwestern and Michigan only need one more win to be bowl eligible, which they should get. I think between Penn State, Purdue and Indiana, only one of them goes bowling.
Ryan (Ames, IA)
Adam, with Michigan losing last week to MSU it appears that now everyone believes that Michigan is not a very good team. People are saying their schedule up until last week was easy and now defenses know how to stop D-rob, etc. As a hawkeye fan, I am still very much afraid of D-rob's abilities and I don't think the hawkeyes can just show up on Saturday and hope to win on the road. Do you agree? And what do feel the outcome of the game will look like?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
I absolutely agree, Ryan, and Iowa will take this mentality into Ann Arbor. Kirk Ferentz's teams don't think they can just walk over a team, especially a Big Ten squad on the road. Remember that Robinson and Brandon Minor ran the ball quite well against Iowa last year in Iowa City, and if Robinson could pass the ball, Michigan might have won the game. I don't think either team will run away with things on Saturday, although if there's a blowout, Iowa will be the winner.
Can La'Veon Bell be the next AP, does he have that kind of upside?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
By AP I'm assuming you mean Adrian Peterson, and that's pretty high praise. I do love what Bell brings to the table both with his size and his home-run ability. Michigan State has enough other backs to keep him fresh, and he can really wear down defenses and then bust big runs from time to time. Big fan of Le'Veon Bell so far this year.
Is Tandon Doss the best WR in the Big 10?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Disco, in terms of NFL potential, he might be. I also really like what I'm seeing from Ohio State's Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey, Iowa's DJK, Doss' Indiana teammate Damarlo Belcher and Northwestern's Jeremy Ebert. All of those guys have been really good.
Joe (Creston, Iowa)
Adam, when you go to all these stadiums, is it always "all business" for you, or do you get a chance to walk around the parking areas and chat with fans much? Do you ever get to do any tailgating? And finally, which stadium is your favorite to visit and why?
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Joe, it's definitely all business for me. I love how you guys ask my to come tailgate, but it's just not realistic as I have to monitor all the Big Ten games and do a lot of things for ESPN.com, ESPN TV and others. So I never get to tailgate, but I still love going to the games every week and interacting with some of the fans. My favorite Big Ten towns are Madison and Ann Arbor; favorite stadiums are Camp Randall, Beaver, Ohio and Kinnick.
The Goal Line (State College, PA)
Dear Penn State, do you even know where I am?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Jeez, not lately it seems like. Penn State needs to re-evaluate its red-zone playbook during the bye week and try to find more ways to punch it into the end zone. The Lions' inability to convert two fumbled punts into touchdowns was a killer against Illinois.
Really, No Adrian Clayborn on your Big Ten player of the year watch list?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Devon, Clayborn has been really good, but I need to see more from him against better offensive teams. He's a great, great player, don't get me wrong, but he just hasn't done as much as guys like Greg Jones, Ryan Kerrigan and J.J. Watt this season. That's the bottom line.
Tim Brewster (Minnesota)
Adam, what are the chances that I go through the entire season without a victory at TCF Stadium?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Wow, Brew, it's going to be tough. Penn State looks a lot more winnable now, and if you guys can beat Purdue on Saturday, you'll have some confidence before the Nittany Lions come to town. I can't see you beating Ohio State or Iowa, so the PSU game is your only shot.
Josh (Madison, WI)
What does the addition of freshman star, James White, mean to the Badgers this year as they get ready for OSU?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
It's huge, Josh. White complements John Clay so well, and he'll really test Ohio State's speed on defense when he gets into the open field. I'm simply amazed that a true freshman has been able to establish himself as Wisconsin 1A back next to Clay. It's a real testament to White and the coaches who recruited him.
Sparty Transplant (Big Ten Country)
Adam,Your comment that "Michigan stopped Michigan" more than Michigan State stopped Michigan is ridiculous. MSU contained Robinson and forced him to throw, which was the GAME PLAN as they knew he was not a great passer. By your same logic, you can say MSU stopped MSU with several big penalties inside the 10 yard line...also leaving many points of the board. Give credit where it is due.
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
I gave them credit, Sparty, and you're right about penalties hurting MSU at times. But c'mon, Michigan moved the ball really well in that game. The Spartans deserve credit for coming up with plays when they had to, but Michigan still had an offensive game plan that nearly translated into some huge plays. What if Trenton Robinson doesn't bring down Michael Shaw on the first drive? It's 7-0 Michigan and potentially a different game.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
If you are Joe Pa, do you stick with Bolden or do you consider trying Newsome or McGloin as your starter? Of course with that O-Line, Kerry Collins might have issues.
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
J.B., I'd have to see Newsome and McGloin in practice. Are they pushing Bolden, or are they simply the other options? If they haven't closed the game in practice, I'd stick with Bolden, who likely will be the QB of the future in Happy Valley, no matter what happens this year.
George (SA, TX)
Over/under on wins for Illinois 8 1/2?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Wow, George, good question there. Illinois' schedule is fairly favorable after this week, but I do think the Illini will lose a game or two they shouldn't. I see Illinois winning 7 or 8 games, so I'm going with the under.
Isaw your power rankings are you really sold as tOSU being# 1???? Looks like Oregon from my seat.
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
No one is "sold" because the perception changes every week. Ohio State was way more impressive against Indiana than Oregon was at woeful Wazzu. So the Buckeyes were a fairly easy choice this week. But again, things change every week.
Pat Narduzzi (East Lansing, MI)
I disagree that with you that Michigan Beat themselves. Yes they made mistakes, but every single interception had one of my boys in Denard's face or literally right on top of him. Did you see that interception by Rucker? He looked like he was the WR on that play. I think my defense deserves more credit that that.
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
Pat, I'll be nice because you agreed to do a video interview after the game. YOUR DEFENSE WAS GREAT! CREDIT TO MICHIGAN STATE! RAH TEAM FIGHT! C'mon, why do you all spend so much time itching for credit? You won the darn game and you're undefeated. Was it a great win? Absolutely. Was it a good defensive game plan? Absolutely. Was it a dominant defensive performance? No. Sorry.
So the Hoosiers should get win #4 this weekend, do you think we win 2 games from @ILL, NW, PSU, @Purdue?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Disco, that Illinois game is absolutely huge. The outcome really could shape the rest of the season. All four of those games are winnable, though, but Indiana has to play better defense to beat Illinois and Northwestern.
Paulie (Suburban Chicago)
Most Iowa fans have moved on from Wegher. You still get those few that keep asking the question and making us all look like we're sitting there waiting for him to return.
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Well, that's nice to hear, Paulie. Because the angst over a backup running back is really comical to me.
Adam, Do you think Coach Fitz should shift the pass/run ratio from 50/50 to something closer to 70/30? Every time Persa throws, it seems like he gets 7-8 yards easy. But when they run (no matter who the RB is) they struggle to get 3 yards. The play calling continues to baffle me.
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Mike, I think the percentage of passes thrown definitely should increase. I don't know what 2-yard runs do to set up your passes. I understand why you can't throw it every time, but it almost seems like Northwestern coaches are running just for the sake of it. You're six games in, your strengths and weaknesses are obvious. It's time to play to you strengths.
Ted (Amarillo, TX)
If MSU didn't give a dominant defensive performance last week then how do you think Michigan will fair against Iowa's defense this Saturday?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Ted, it's an interesting matchup. Iowa has been flat-out dominant on defense in its wins, but other than Arizona, the Hawkeyes haven't faced a good offense. The Hawkeyes certainly are capable of containing Michigan, but I remember last year, how a one-dimensional Denard Robinson ran the ball down Iowa's throat on a fourth-quarter TD drive. Robinson can do some damage in this game, even against the great Hawkeyes D.
Elated Spartan (Mid-Michigan)
What are MSU's chances at a BCS bowl game if we lose to Iowa. That would likely put them ahead of us in the rankings, and we can't touch OSU. With only two BCS spots available is it true that MSU basically must go 12-0 just to get into one?
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
Elated, I'm not sure you need to go 12-0. If MSU goes 11-1 with a loss to Iowa and the Hawkeyes lose to Ohio State to finish 10-2, you might get the nod. Iowa travels better than almost anyone, but Michigan State hasn't been to one of the big bowls in a very long time. It would be an interesting decision. But there's still a long way to go.
Jim Tressel (THE Ohio State University)
Adam, what do you think about my idea to move Brandon Saine to a slot or flanker position, ala Anthony Gonzolez?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
I like it, Jim. Saine always has been an excellent receiver, and he can help if he gets the ball in the open field. It would mean Dan Herron gets most of the carries at RB, unless you really think outside the box and start giving the ball more to Berry and Hall.
Penn state has lots of issues, this past weeks issue on defense I can only assume was all due to injury as they never played that bad the entire season thus far against better competition.So my real concern is the O-line and why we cannot seem to have a good o-line the last few years. Is it the offensive cord. or is it an inability to recruit good lineman. I think the lack of an O-line/run game is why we have no success in the redzone.
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Steve, I agree that the O-line has been bad this year, but Penn State fans forget that just two years ago, the Lions had a terrific offensive line with Shipley, Cadogan, Wisniewski, etc. So it's not like Penn State can't recruit good linemen. Still, this year's group hasn't performed nearly as well as I thought after an inconsistent year in 2009.
Team D (MI)
Is Coach D the odds on favorite for coach of the year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
He's the sentimental favorite, although I'd give the award to Don Treadwell as well if Michigan State goes 12-0. But if the Spartans go, say, 10-2 and Ohio State goes 12-0, I'd be very disappointed if Jim Tressel didn't finally win the award. He's beyond due to win one.
john (bucyrus, ohio)
adam, in your opinion, what is the single thing ohio state must do to beat wiscy? p.s i've heard of the rittenberg curse and i'll pay for the hotel room if you'll go to the game at camp randall! lol
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Haha! Biggest key for Ohio State is to pressure Scott Tolzien with the front four and allow the linebackers to drop into coverage and try to make plays on the ball. Ohio State is so opportunistic on D, and Tolzien struggled with turnovers in last year's game, which was closer than the score indicated. If Ohio State can force big mistakes from Tolzien, it'll leave Camp Randall with a W.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
What happened to the Spread HD? Seems like this is the perfect time to use that rather than the "minus-2 yards and a cloud of dust" approach that PSU is using now. They've had success with misdirection and play action that gives Bolden the extra second or two he needs. Seems like the coaches are doing a "they think that we think that they think" thing and ultimately aren't making any good adjustments.
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
Lou, as always, some good points here. Penn State's strength is at the wide receiver position, and it would be nice to see more quick drops or quick passes to get the wideouts the ball in space. I'd also like to see the coaches move the pocket more for Bolden, who clearly has the athleticism to make plays with his feet.
Conspiracy #1 -- Brewster asked Belima to go for the 2-pt so he'd have something with which to deflect post-game job questions. Best thing that's happend to MN all season if articles about fired-up gopher team are true.
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
Ummmm, no. Not buying that one. Are you saying he had an official pass a note to the other sideline in the third quarter, saying, 'When you get up 25 points on us, go for two, please?' Doubt that happened, but I guess the players being fired up now is positive.
Ken O'Keefe (Iowa City, IA)
Adam, where should I attack Michigan's woeful defense more, through the air or on the ground? And is the best defense on D-Rob through time of possession?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
Definitely through the air, Ken. Michigan's secondary is very vulnerable, and you have the vertical passing attack to go right at the Wolverines' biggest weakness. I expect you to take 6-8 shots down the field with DJK and/or McNutt.
Adam Rittenberg (ESPN Luxury Suites)
Do my chances of getting a question answered increase if I submit it with the name of a famous sports personality?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Yes, there is, especially when you crack me up by saying I'm writing from the "luxury suites." Far from it, my friend.
Adam, the players typically have some pump-up music to get them ready for the games. On Saturdays, do you have pump up music to get you ready to blog a full day's worth of games?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
I don't! But I should! Any suggestions? I'll nominate Warren G's "Regulate" for myself.
Bret Bielema (Wisconsin)
Adam, Tim Brewster swore at me last weekend and hurt my feelings. Is there anything you can say to make me feel better?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
You're 5-1, he's 1-5. You've got great job security. He doesn't. You want me to go on?
ryan (chicago, il)
Adam, with all the preseason hype our conference received I def feel it was not warranted. I'm a MSU fan but realistically if any of the top tier big ten teams (osu, msu, iowa, wisco) played a (SC, UF, Auburn, USC) they'd get destroyed. I don't care if some of the teams i listed seasons have been dissapointing but the talent level is miles apart.
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Well, Ryan, you're entitled to your opinion, but I don't you'll get much support from me or around these parts. The gap between the Big Ten and the SEC is narrowing big time this year, and you had the worst Big Ten team (Minnesota) leading USC in the second half of a game on Sept. 18. I'd be concerned about Alabama, but the rest of those teams don't scare me.
Bret Bielema (Wisconsin)
I have great job security?? Tell the locals that - one loss to an undefeated team and they want me gone!
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Yeah, but your boss loves you, and his opinion matters way more than the fans'.
Adam Rittenberg ((from a one room shack in Chicago))
Is this more like it?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
You're catching on.
Todd Radabaugh (Ohio)
Are Big Ten Qyarterbacks as good as their stats this year or have they just played against week defenses to date?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Todd, it's probably a bit of both, but I really like what I've seen from the Big Ten QBs this season. Some guys are getting better (Pryor, Stanzi, Cousins, Chappell), while several first-year starters have been fabulous (Denard, Persa).
Ted (Amarillo, TX)
Adam, do you have any "way too early bowl predictions" for Big Ten teams that you can throw out there for us?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Not yet. But coming soon ...
Darren (Iowa City)
Adam,Any news on Norm Parker's return? I think we may be in some trouble without him this season.-Darren
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that Norm won't travel this week and likely is at least two weeks away from a return. Hope to see him back soon.
Adam Rittenberg (stealing McDonalds wi-fi from my car in their p
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
No, not that bad.
Jackson Brunner (West Lafayette, IN)
What will it take for Purdue to develop a passing offense? They can run the ball really well but Henry's inexperience is likely the main factor. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Jackson, it'll take a bit of time, but Purdue has to call the pass plays where Henry feels most comfortable. Also it's good to have some safe passes that he can complete and gain confidence. But I do think it'll take time for him to build chemistry with his WRs.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Last one ...
Ryan (Underground Bunker Below the Sea Floor)
Which game left this season will have the greatest impact on the Big Ten title and why?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Ryan, I have a feeling it'll be Iowa-Michigan State first and then Iowa-Ohio State second.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Talk to you next week and enjoy the games Saturday!