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 everyone, I'm here. Let's get started!
Matt (State College)
Adam, seriously, what do I have to do? Is it going to take me walking on water to show that I'm the choice for starting QB? I've started a fund to pay for another eye surgery for coach as it is obvious he can't see well enough yet. Care to donate?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Matt, I think Joe sees what the rest of us see. I don't know why this decision continues to drag out, as it's clear you are the better QB for Penn State at this point. Maybe if you didn't throw that INT in the end zone, it would have been enough to give you the job. But the numbers don't lie. You should be the No. 1 QB. I can't help but think the coaches are worried about the lack of depth if Rob Bolden is demoted and decides to leave.
Have you heard anything on Crick? Does he have a lingering concussion that may effect the rest of the season? He just doesn't look right.
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
I agree he doesn't look right, Melissa, but they wouldn't have let him play against Ohio State if there was any risk of further head injury. Those things are handled extremely carefully these days. Bo Pelini said Crick will get a few extra days off during the bye week, so it will be interesting to see how he responds at Minnesota. Crick reminds me a bit of Adrian Clayborn in 2010, a guy who came in with hype, hasn't played poorly but hasn't been as dominant as most folks expected.
Being at the halfway point of the season, Who do you see emerging out of the Legends and Leaders division to play in the BIG Championship game? Basically which two teams has the best chance of winning those divisions right now.
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Dave, right now Wisconsin is the pick in the Leaders division. Other than the Rose Bowl, the Badgers haven't slowed down for the last year or so. The Legends division is trickier, and I think it'll come down to Michigan State, Michigan and Nebraska. Each team plays one road game and one home game in the group, so it could come down to who wins on the road.
Dave (Sad Hawkeye Nation)
I didn't see the hawkeye offense in the stock up/down post. (Definitely deserved to be stock down- coming from a fan.) Should we fans be worried? Bye week cobwebs, or what we have to look forward to with tougher B1G defenses? I'm just wondering if I should be looking forward to a 7-5/8-4 season, or praying to reach .500.
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Dave, Penn State's defense deserves some credit for Saturday's lock-down performance, but Iowa definitely didn't execute well on offense. I think it'll be an up-and-down season for the offense and the Iowa team after losing so much from last year. A 7- or 8-win season certainly is within reach, as the schedule remains favorable, but winning this week against Northwestern is big. The Hawkeyes don't want to start 0-2 in league play.
Tom (Lincoln Park)
Adam, do you see MSU being able to score enough points to win? Michigan has played some really good offense in ND and Northwestern, and has given up yards but kept those teams off the board in the 2nd half. Do you see that continuing this week?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Tom, that's a good question. The key for Michigan State is limiting turnovers and being able to run the ball on first down. Michigan has been terrific at forcing turnovers, even from a team like Northwestern that leads the Big Ten in fewest giveaways. Kirk Cousins must be smart in his decision-making, but the real key for MSU is being able to run the ball with Baker and Bell, both of whom gashed Michigan last year in AA.
So RussellmaniaXVI will win the Heisman? Does that mean your picking the Badgers to go undefeated because it will certainly take that for RW to overcome the competition right?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
I dunno, Bryant. Wilson already has put himself in the mix with these huge numbers, and Wisconsin has made itself a team to watch. Obviously, an undefeated season would help Wilson's cause, but he has forced people to pay attention to his numbers each week. That's the key, to be one of those national players to watch along with Luck, Moore, Richardson, RGIII, Landry Jones, etc.
Adam, A lot has been made of Nebraska fans boos at the end of the first half. I was there, as well, and I thought the crowd was more upset with the play calling to end the half, particularly the last offensive drive where it when run, take time for no apparent reason and then throw it up for grabs. It gave 3 points to OSU but no one I talked to at half was upset with Taylor for the throw as it appeared to the play called. Sorry long way of saying, did too much get made out of the crowds reaction at the end of the half?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
I'm quickly realizing that anything referring to Nebraska fans, Bo Pelini's post-game comments or anything out of the ordinary turns into a huge deal at Nebraska. There were some boos before the half, and they could have been for several reasons, but I didn't have an issue with it. Michigan fans have booed at home. So have other fan bases. I know Nebraska fans hold themselves to higher standards, and Nebraska fans are great fans. I guess my point is I didn't feel the few boos were a big deal either way. I've heard them in just about every Big Ten venue.
The D (Michigan)
Love seeing my Lions and my Wolverines both being strong 2nd half teams. It seems obvious that Mattison is the difference there, but what about offense? Do you think Denard is making major adjustments, or are defenses just getting tired of chasing him all over?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Defenses certainly don't like chasing Denard for four quarters, but the two things really go hand in hand. Michigan is playing better defense in the second half, giving its offense more opportunities to be on the field. Mattison has been a tremendous addition to the Michigan staff. The best thing about Denard is he doesn't let mistakes faze him. While you can't expect to keep winning with your quarterback averaging 1.5 interceptions per game, Denard deserves credit for not getting down and continuing to make plays.
Trevor (Ann Arbor)
How fun would it be if Michigan and Wisconsin goes into the CCG, both being 12-0?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
A lot of fun, Trevor. Even if one or both teams had a loss or two entering the title game, it would be an exciting matchup because the squads didn't play during the regular season. The Denard Robinson-Russell Wilson matchup would get a ton of national attention.
Russell is a good guess at the Heisman, but if your other prediction comes true (Michigan wins the Legends), it's because Denard has continued to put up great numbers. Wisconsin probably still wins the B1G without Russell, but Michigan is sunk without Shoelace. Combine that with the Michigan name (which, fair or unfair, gets more weight than Wisconsin), and I see Robinson winning the Heisman. Am I way off base here?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
I think you are, Chuck. Robinson's interception total will cost him when matched up with other Heisman contenders. Yes, Robinson does special things, but he also makes many more mistakes than QBs like Luck, Moore, Jones, Griffin and yes, Russell Wilson. Heisman voters won't ignore what likely will be a double-digit interceptions total. I know I'll have a hard time ignoring it.
Randy (St. Louis)
I find you to be pretty realistic. You do not have "Big Ten beats all" attitude. You seem to know where the Big Ten stands, and I do enjoy reading your blog as a Big 12 fan. So, I am going to ask you this. Who do you think would win between Oklahoma and Wisconsin if they played here in St Louis?
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Thanks, Randy. That would be a really exciting matchup. Both teams can do a ton of damage on the offensive side. Neither team has a lock-down defense, although I'd give the edge to Oklahoma there. It likely would come down to quarterback play, Wilson vs. Landry Jones. Oklahoma would have the crowd advantage in St. Louis, but Wisconsin would travel well, too. Think you can make this matchup happen? If so, I'm so there.
Like many, my favorite questions in you and Brian's weekly mailbags/blogs are the ones where the writer is antagonistic, illiterate, just stupid, or some combination thereof. I know you don't read the comments on your stories, but it was bandied about yesterday that you guys should do a semi-regular "wall of shame" post where you collect some of these, uh, nuggets of wisdom. No witty responses necessary, unless you want to, just display them in all their glory.Maybe the mothership doesn't have enough of a sense of humor to let that happen, but we'd all enjoy it. Except the featured writers, I suppose. Think about it.
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Dave, we have to pick our spots, but if we wanted to post all the ridiculous emails and comments we receive, we'd have no time to, you know, actually work and report on Big Ten football.
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Where's your hashtag?
If things continue the way they are now and Illini WR A.J. Jenkins stays on average and maybe has a few more 200+ receiving games, how hard is it going to be for him to win the Heisman?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Will, it'll be tough because there are so many great quarterbacks and a few great running backs in the mix. Most people around the country don't know A.J. Jenkins. Now if he keeps putting up big numbers, he'll gain consideration for the Biletnikoff Award no doubt, but the Heisman seems to be a stretch to me.
I see that you picked UofM as your favorite in the Legends division right now. I understand they are 6-0 but would you elaborate on why you chose the wolverines? Is it their one dimensional qb, their sloppy play, their mediocre but turnover prone defense? How long can a team survive off of a blitzing safety? Honestly, UofMs opponents have thrown the games away. NW and ND especially. I just do not understand your logic. UofM plays no defense. Name the last time an offensive team won the BIG ten? Would you even consider UofM an offensive team, or just Drob? You pretty much picked Drob to win the legends division over the rest. That is the only way they win. Is if he dominates. No other way around it.
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Well, Jared, tell us how you really feel. Is Michigan an imperfect team? Yes. Is there a flawless team in the Legends division? Nope. You really want me to name the last offensive team to win the Big Ten? Wisconsin from 2010. Shattered records on offense and scored 70 points or more three teams. There you go. ... Michigan has to get better, no doubt. You can't win games simply with takeaways and overcome your quarterback's mistakes. But Michigan has adjusted well in games, and I think the defense will get better over the course of the season. Michigan State might be my pick on Saturday, and the Spartans very well could win the division. But Michigan State still has a tougher schedule than both Michigan and Nebraska the rest of the way.
over/under 26 TD's for Montee Ball this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Got to go with the over, as Ball will continue to help Bennett's fantasy team crush mine each week. All the guy does is score touchdowns, whether it was late last season or in the first five games this season. Think he'll approach 30 TDs.
I really enjoy reading the BIG blog daily. Keeps me busy over here. What do you think about Illinois chance in the legends division? What teams, if any, might beat Wisconsin? Thanks and keep up the good work.
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Hey Adam, I visited your city in March and had a great time. Clarke Quay is awesome. ... Illinois is most likely Wisconsin's top threat in the Leaders division, although Penn State also might challenge the Badgers if it keeps winning. Wisconsin's biggest tests the rest of the way come next week at Michigan State, Oct. 29 at Ohio State, Nov. 19 at Illinois and Nov. 26 against Penn State.
Derek Fisher (Europe (Maybe))
Bigger loss: Mike Stoops from Arizona or NBA cancelling their first 2 weeks?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
We all know early season NBA basketball is a bore. I'll miss Mike Stoops on the sideline. Mad man.
Sorry you had to pick a split champion. You could argue Wisconsin was a defensive team as well last year. They did rank around the top in all major defensive statistics in the BIG last year. But once again, defense wins championships.
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Jared, you're just wrong, man. Wisconsin had a decent defense, but the offense won the conference last year. The offensive line dominated Ohio State and Paul Chryst had a great game plan. You're not going to win this argument. Wisconsin was undoubtedly an offensive team in 2010.
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern University)
What should I have my young boys worry about more? Iowa's passing game or the pink locker room?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Iowa's passing game. The pink locker room doesn't bother your players at all, since they've won three consecutive games at Kinnick Stadium. Northwestern seems to play very good football in Iowa City. But if the secondary doesn't improve considerably and you don't start getting off of the field more, it's going to be a very long and disappointing season for a team you thought could have a breakthrough this fall.
Ted (Charlottesville, VA)
Should I continue to have hope for the rest of Purdue's season, or should I start counting down the days until basketball season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Ted, you should see how Purdue performs the next two weeks. Penn State is beatable, even in State College, because of its struggles on offense. It would be a huge win for Purdue to win in Happy Valley. Then the Boilers come home for Illinois, which is on a roll but has made mistakes in every game. Getting one of these next two would be a really big boost for the Boilers.
ACKC (Las Vegas)
A few columnists have stated that Burkhead is the best RB in the B1G (this blog included)...I'm a Husker fan but I'm curious what supports Burkhead over Ball or Redd? Ball certainly has a better supporting cast with his QB and a couple of standout receivers to share the load...but is Burkhead really, really better?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
I think it's a good debate, ACKC. Both players have a good size-speed combination, and both back get it done in the red zone, which is huge. Both have similar experience levels. I would probably take Ball, but there's not a huge gap between them.
Kenny Guiton (Columbus, OH)
At what point does my irrational offensive coaching staff realize that Bauserman can't fulfill the roll as backup and get me into the game if Braxton gets hurt?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Kenny, I would expect you to get an opportunity sooner rather than later. Obviously, Ohio State wants Braxton to stay healthy and continue to progress, but if he struggles or gets banged up, I don't think Bauserman will have a long leash if he enters the game.
Brian Bennett (The Ville)
Trombone Shorties stink! Can you refresh me on what the winner of the fantasy game gets, I remember it being their picture on top in the blog, correct?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Nice try, Bennett. You might be beating me in picks and fantasy -- I still haven't lost a Big Ten game -- but you'll NEVER get your picture above mine on the blog. Seniority rules.
Rob (Council Bluffs)
Any update on Iowa's former safety, Brett Greenwood?
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
Rob, I saw a story in the Des Moines paper on Sunday that said he's still in a medically induced coma. Thoughts and prayers remain with Brett and his family. Great guy.
Donovonn Young, freshman of the year possibilities?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Will, he's definitely in the discussion, especially if he gets more and more carries in the coming weeks. Illinois should be very good at the running back spot for many years to come.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
Do you think Luke Fickell has what it takes to keep the Buckeyes from falling off the proverbial wagon at this point? They are 3-3 staring at 3-5, new coaching regime speculation in Columbus is likely constant, and their best win is against Colorado.
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Chris, Saturday is a huge game for Fickell and the Buckeyes. They're clearly a desperate team, and with Wisconsin coming up on the schedule, they absolutely have to find a way to beat Illinois. Braxton Miller gives the offense a chance, but the defense will need to be much better than what we saw late in the Nebraska game, when the Huskers controlled the tempo and steamrolled the Buckeyes. Falling below .500 before a bye week and Wisconsin would be a tough hole to climb out of for Fickell and his team.
nick (iowa city)
Have a class with some hawkeye players and they said monday night that greenwoods in rehab now
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
That's great to hear! Thanks for the update, Nick!
Emma (Ann Arbor)
Adam! I'm stuck in class and have been waiting since 12 to see you answer my questions. Please, help a terribly bored student out- do we realistically have a chance of putting Little Brother in his place this Sat?
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Your wait is over, Emma. Yes, Michigan has a realistic chance in Saturday's game. Most would see it as a toss-up, as most rivalry games are. Denard cannot turn the ball over as much as he did against Northwestern and Notre Dame and expect to win. Michigan's defensive line needs to win the battle up front against Michigan State's O-line and prevent Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell from getting going. Michigan also needs to keep things close in the first half and make those key adjustments that have shown up in recent weeks.
Waldo (Trombone Tallies)
Adam, did Brian seriously have a team that included Montee Ball (did not play) that still beat you? I think you should open up your selections to our suggestions a wee bit more.
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
He replaced Ball last week, as I replaced Russell Wilson and Nick Toon. Our teams don't have bench players, so we have to drop guys who have bye weeks. So far, my midweek pickups have been absolutely awful. We'll see if I can turn it around this week.
Any chance the B1G rethinks the decision to call them the 'Leaders' and 'Legends' divisions? Please say yes.
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
There's a chance, J.B., as they're still not resonating with most fans. But the Big Ten has made significant investments in Legends and Leaders. You see it in commercials, in the Big Ten mobile tour and in other areas. The league really wants these names to connect with its fans, and will make every effort to make this connection. We'll see what happens ...
Do you think if Michigan State drops the rest of their games in October to UM, Wisc, and the Huskers they can still win teh Legends Division?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
No, I don't believe Michigan State will win the Legends division if it loses to both Michigan and Nebraska. I think one of those three teams wins the division, so going 0-2 in those matchups would basically eliminate a team.
Is there something in the air, or the beer, thats making the Badgers, Packers, and Brewers so good?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
Yes, definitely something in the beer.
do you see big 10 getting two teams to bcs bowls this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Nick, there's a time almost every year when I think the Big Ten will only get one, but if Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Nebraska or Penn State finishes with 10 or more wins, it will be hard for a bowl committee to pass them up. The Big Ten teams are so attractive to these bowls, not so much for the quality of the team but the fans and the track record of showing up in large numbers and spending money.
Pavlov's Dog (Mother Russia)
AR, can you get a better background for you video sessions? We all think you live in your mom's basement.
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
You don't like the Big Ten logo? Can't do much about the lighting situation, but the background is pretty nice, in my opinion.
Adam, you have no idea how hard it is to be a Gopher fan.
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Brandon, I feel for you guys right now. We knew Minnesota would be rebuilding a bit this year, but the Gophers have to start being more competitive in these games.
Jack Frost (North Pole)
What do you think are the top three defensive units in the Big?
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin.
Mrs. Rittenberg (Chicago)
do i exist?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Not during football season. Whoops, did I say that. And you do exist (by a different name).
What's one thing you didn't like about Lincoln last weekend?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Can't think of much, Jordan. Memorial Stadium is a first-class facility. Nebraska fans were all really nice, especially the slightly inebriated ones who helped shoot my post-game video on the field. I guess the weather could have been a lot better.
If penn state settles on one QB(McGloin) for the rest of the season, do you think they can win out with the way their defense has been playing?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Adam, I don't think Penn State can win out. Next week's game at Northwestern could be tricky, and Penn State still has Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin on the schedule. Tough to see the Lions running the table.
Pete (Cupertino, CA)
More of a liability: Michigan's secondary or MSU's offensive line?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Good question, Pete. Both are areas of concern, and both are trying to build some cohesion. I'm not sold on either group, but Michigan's secondary could be a bigger problem in terms of wins and losses.
Waffles (Southern California)
Bold (not really) Prediction: PSU does not beat Wisconsin at the end of the year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Yeah, that's really bold, Waffles.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
If the Penn State job were to open up next year, do you think there are any 'available' coaches that do not consider the job? And do you think Golden ultimately ends up as the successor to JoePa?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
No, I don't, Cosmo. He likely would be in the mix, but Penn State would have some other good candidates to choose from.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, last one for the day ...
Who wins the matchup of Denard vs MSU's LB core?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Well, Denard can beat any defender one-on-one. It's big for Michigan State's LBs to swarm to the ball, keep contain on Robinson and make plays when they're in position. It'll be a big game for Bullough and the crew.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
OK, time's up. Talk to you next week!