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 3 p.m. ET!
Adam Rittenberg (3:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
Could WR injuries derail Minnesota against Illinois? How is Gray's ankle coming?
Adam Rittenberg (3:01 PM)
The Barker one is the big concern, Craig. The Gophers really missed him last week, and it doesn't sound likely that he'll play. Minnesota needs to get its run game going more, especially in the red zone, and to feature John Rabe like it was doing earlier this season. With Gray, he's not going to be 100 percent the rest of the season, but he'll power through and be out there some.
Justin (West Palm Beach, FL)
Hey Adam! My office had Steak and Baked Potatoes and Apple Pie to celebrate "Election Day" and now I'm stuck fighting off this food coma. So give me something to think about. Which of OSU's remaining two games will be the most difficult and why?
Adam Rittenberg (3:02 PM)
Man, Justin, I'm surprised you can still function. Love me some apple pie. ... I'll have a better answer for you after seeing Wisconsin play Saturday with possibly a new starting QB (Phillips), but I still lean toward Michigan. Even though it's a home game, the Wolverines are a more complete team. They're a bit better defensively. And it's a rival game.
Northwestern Fan here. Is it weird for me to think that we actually would want Robinson to play qb this weekend this year rather then Gardner? Our front seven has been able to stop the run game both qb and rb all year with the front seven putting pressure on them. Gardner would be throwing more which attacks NU's biggest weakness. Who do you think starts and plays more this weekend at QB?
Adam Rittenberg (3:04 PM)
Tough to tell right now, Kevin. I think Devin Gardner definitely will play some in the game at quarterback. Whether he can replicate last week's performance remains to be seen, as his wideouts really helped him out on some of those catches. But Northwestern's secondary is weaker than Minnesota's, especially if Nick VanHoose doesn't play. Michigan definitely will take some shots downfield, and it'll be important for Northwestern to limit the big plays and make Michigan work for points. The Wildcats' rush defense has been very solid this season, and Michigan hasn't had a consistent run game outside of Denard.
Stephon (Warren, MI)
After seeing Devin Gardner play last weekend, does you opinion of the 2013 version of UM change? The defense will be great, but now it looks like the offense has a chance to be really good as well.
Adam Rittenberg (3:06 PM)
Stephon, it does change a bit. I was very impressed with Gardner, and he seems to be a much better fit for the offense Al Borges wants to run than Denard has been. Michigan's offense will change dramatically next season -- much more pro-style than spread -- and the team will ask for different things from the QB spot. Gardner looks like he could have the skills to get it done. You never want to see injuries, but having Gardner get some snaps this season at QB might bode well for Michigan in 2013.
Mochila (Grand Rapids, MI)
Which early departure would be worse for Michigan State: Bullough or Bell?
Adam Rittenberg (3:08 PM)
Good question. I'd actually say Bullough. As good as Bell has been this season, Michigan State has some other options at running back and won't be this pathetic on offense in 2013. While it'd be great to have Bell back, the Spartans should have more diversity in their offense and the backs to get it done. I'm interested to see more of Nick Hill. Bullough, meanwhile, is the quarterback of the defense and does so much for that unit. The other linebackers are decent, but he makes that crew so much better with his intelligence. All that said, I'd be surprised if Bullough leaves and, quite frankly, surprised if Bell stays.
Worst (Case, Scenario)
Oregon plays a 3 or 4 loss B1G champ in the Rose Bowl. What would that do to the conference reputation? Let's face it, any eligible team in the conference this year would get slaughtered..
Adam Rittenberg (3:10 PM)
As much as it pains me to agree, I do wholeheartedly. The Big Ten doesn't want to see Chip Kelly's team in Pasadena this year. It wouldn't be close. Ohio State would have the best chance to keep pace, and I don't even think the Buckeyes could beat the Ducks this season. Maybe Oregon would be a little flat if its national title hopes are derailed, but the Ducks are a lot better than any Big Ten team that could place them in Pasadena.
Benny F. (Arden Hills)
What two current B1G head coaches would make the best pair running for president and vice president? I would ask mascots, but we all know Herbie Husker and his VP Lil' Red would win that election in a landslide...
Adam Rittenberg (3:12 PM)
Ha, Lil' Red has a little Biden in him, doesn't he? ... As far as presidential-looking coaches, the Big Ten would have had the Tressel-Ferentz ticket for a while. Ferentz is still around and has that political look to him. Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is extremely popular with media members and even some fans of other Big Ten teams, so he'd be good. Urban Meyer would be an interesting possibility. He has the look for it, but he might be labeled a flip-flopper.
Adam, try to write a shorter book for your responses and we might get more than 10 questions this hour!
Adam Rittenberg (3:13 PM)
OK. How's that?
Maybe Mochila (Less impressive Rapids)
Win or lose on Saturday, has Wisconsin squandered a golden opportunity this season? Because I can't see them getting past OSU next season.
Adam Rittenberg (3:13 PM)
As long as they get to Indianapolis, the opportunity to reach the Rose Bowl is right there for them. If they don't get to Indy, it's a massive disappointment, given the dynamics of the division.
4 More (Years)
How likely is it for Indiana to make it to the CCG if they beat Wisconsin this week?
Adam Rittenberg (3:14 PM)
Very likely. Wisconsin would have to beat either Ohio State (home) or Penn State (road) to get back in the picture. Indiana, meanwhile, still has a game against slumping Purdue. If the Hoosiers beat Wisconsin and Purdue, I think they go to Indy for sure.
B1G (Down and Out)
with the playoffs creeping in the near future, why havent teams scheduled tougher OOC teams to play? Michigan is a prime example....
Adam Rittenberg (3:15 PM)
Michigan did add Arkansas for 2018-19, and Oregon State isn't a bad addition, either. As colleague Ivan Maisel noted today, Michigan has NEVER played in an SEC stadium in its history, so that's a nice change. Nebraska hasn't really beefed things up, but the Huskers soon will announce several non-league opponents for the future, including a reported series against old rival Oklahoma.
You just said that MSU's offense next year won't be this pathetic. Why do you say that? Is it just the nature of college football where we assume that a year later, players will be better? Before the season you and Brian kept saying MSU's o-line would be better. Well, they're not. Sure injuries have contributed to that, but even the healthy ones haven't played well. Any reasoning behind your statement?
Adam Rittenberg (3:17 PM)
Jon, I guess there's always a chance things could stay the same or get worse, but it's pretty unlikely. Michigan State had no proven receivers other than Sims entering the year. The offensive line depth seemed to be OK, but turned out to be weaker than we expected. Most of those linemen return in 2013. Maxwell almost certainly will make strides after a full year as the starter. MSU should have more guys it can rely on, who aren't newbies. It might not turn out to be good, but I think there's a decent chance the Spartans make strides on offense.
Adam, are you hearing anything regarding Hankins plans after this season at OSU? Is he planning to come back for his Sr. year or go to the pro's?
Adam Rittenberg (3:18 PM)
He said during the offseason, when he was already being hyped for the 2013 draft, that he wants to return next year and compete for a national title. But he has a big decision to make, as he almost certainly would be a first-round pick if he comes out. It'll be interesting to see what he decides.
If you come visit Bloomington this week, can you try and convince some of the tailgaters to actually go watch the game? I hear we're decent this year.
Adam Rittenberg (3:19 PM)
I am coming to Bloomington (fired up!) and I'll do my best with the tailgaters. But I'm usually inside the stadium long before many of them set up their tailgates.
why does it seem like oklahoma always gets a bye by the media when they lose while the big ten gets hammered
Adam Rittenberg (3:20 PM)
Yes. It's something I've pointed out before when national media dumped on Ohio State for struggling in the national title games. Oklahoma always seems to get a pass, while being a pretty big underachiever for the past few years. Oklahoma is a slightly better version of Florida State in my mind: constantly hyped before the season, almost never backs up the hype.
How can you not pick Hoke for office! He already looks like 2016 hopeful Chris Christie!
Adam Rittenberg (3:21 PM)
Ha, good call. Well, if Christie needs a stand-in for upcoming events, he knows who to call.
Would an Indiana Northwestern Big Ten game hurt the B1G perception or help it?
Adam Rittenberg (3:22 PM)
Hurt it, definitely. It would be seen as symbolic of an extremely weak league. It's not really fair to Northwestern (which has taken care of business) and Indiana (which will have capitalized on a weird situation), but that's how the perception will be nationally. It's much better for perception purposes to get Wisconsin against Nebraska or Wisconsin in the title game.
Adam, Even though OSU cannot play in a bowl game, for what little pride left in B1G this year, how would OSU fare against some of the best such as Oregon, ND, K State or Bama?
Adam Rittenberg (3:24 PM)
Gregory, I was asked this on Columbus radio last night. Ohio State would have a tough time with Alabama and Oregon. The Buckeyes' offense wouldn't put up a ton of points against Bama, and their lack of depth on defense would really hurt against Oregon. Kansas State would be a tough matchup, too. Ohio State would be able to hang with Notre Dame, which isn't great offensively and hasn't faced a quarterback as dynamic as Braxton Miller (sorry, Denard).
Tom (Pawnee, IN)
Who wins COY in this scenario (which oddly isn't beyond belief): 10-2 CCG bound Fitzgerald, 7-5 CCG bound Indiana, 12-0 Meyer.
Adam Rittenberg (3:24 PM)
Bill O'Brien, if Penn State goes 9-3. How's that?
Do you see any possibility of Michigan playing in the CCG. It is sad to see they are complteley being ruled out of the picture after losses with good teams liek ND and Bama and Neb (without Denard)
Adam Rittenberg (3:26 PM)
Raj, the problem is Michigan doesn't get another crack at Nebraska, and the Wolverines' closing schedule is a bit tougher than Nebraska's. Michigan really needs Penn State to beat Nebraska this week. If not, I don't see Nebraska losing to Minnesota or Iowa. And even if Nebraska loses, Michigan will have to take care of business against a good Northwestern team, an Iowa team that has given it trouble and then Ohio State in Columbus. Can it be done? Sure. Will it be easy? No.
Hey adam, Who do you think would win the foot race between Robinson and Martinez? and who would you rather have as your Quarterback?
Adam Rittenberg (3:28 PM)
Robinson wins the footrace. Both are fast, but Robinson is at a slightly higher level. I'd rather have Martinez as my quarterback, even though I'd need a lot of Maalox nearby.
From what I have been reading it seems like Beckman and a couple of players seem to think the OSU game went well, that they showed improvement. What does that say about this team and this coach? They lost by 30...1 of their scores was a botched OSU play...another score was on OSU 2 maybe 3 team defense. Is that where this program is when they can be pleased with a 30 point blowout?
Adam Rittenberg (3:29 PM)
David, they're just trying to find something positive to build on in what has been a truly dreadful season. Illinois played OK in the first quarter and put together some decent drives. You have to start somewhere, and as a coach, you can't just keep reminding your players how bad things have been. I don't think Tim Beckman or his players think this season is acceptable, and they've acknowledged as much. But you have to find something to build around.
How many points does Indiana need to win by to make up for getting crushed by the Badgers the last 3 season?
Adam Rittenberg (3:30 PM)
Just one, baby. That's the beauty of this season. Any win by any margin would likely give IU sweet revenge.
PURE fantasy here, but what do you think would happen to conference perceptions if Indiana pulled out the biggest upset ever of Oregon in the Rose Bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (3:31 PM)
I would make colleague Mark Schlabach write a book on the greatness of the Big Ten if that happened. And dedicate it to me.
Jake (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Do you think Ameer Abdullah will be one of the leagues returning backs next year after putting up the numbers he has this year?
Adam Rittenberg (3:33 PM)
I definitely think Abdullah will enter 2013 as one of the Big Ten's projected offensive stars. His speed sets him apart, and the experience he has gained this year will only help him going forward. Nebraska returns almost all of its offensive weapons, and Abdullah is poised to enter the year as the featured back. His size concerns me a little bit as he's not the biggest guy, but he has handled the grind well so far this season.
Why have you and Brian talked up PSU so much? They have played one of the easiest schedules in the B1G and are still 6-3 about to be 6-4 this Saturday. I think it is unfair for their fans to be told their team is something they are not.
Adam Rittenberg (3:34 PM)
Cole, keep in mind that Penn State had been projected by many to win three or four games this season, especially after the 0-2 start. Yes, the Lions haven't played the toughest schedule, but they have a good win against Northwestern and several dominant road performances. I agree they'll be tested this week, but this is a solid team that should have won its game against Virginia in Week 2.
Do you think the best thing that could happen for the BIG's credibility heading into next season would be for Nebraska and OSU to win out the rest of this season? With decent bowl performances of course. NU and OSU would start the season in the top 10 you would think.
Adam Rittenberg (3:36 PM)
RK, I think that would help. More specifically, though, what would help the most is for a Big Ten team -- Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc -- to win the Rose Bowl. The Big Ten could have a very rough bowl performance, but if it wins in Pasadena, little else matters. That would be something positive at the end of a pretty gloomy season. So while a 12-0 Ohio State season would generate buzz for the Big Ten entering 2013, it also would be attributed to a bad league. A Nebraska Rose Bowl win, in my view, is much more significant.
If Braxton Miller would win the Heisman Trophy, any chance you think he heads to the next level? or does he come back to try and win Ohio st. a National championship?
Adam Rittenberg (3:37 PM)
Dale, the good news is he can't leave. He's only a true sophomore, so he'll be back in 2013, Heisman or no Heisman.
Who's bigger in this country: Notre Dame football or Dallas Cowboys?
Adam Rittenberg (3:38 PM)
Notre Dame football. It's not 1995 any more. Sorry, Jerry Jones.
Dan (Mt. Nittany)
Can't say enough about the start of the Bill OB era at PSU. With TE/QB 4 stars coming next year and returning players, do you think PSU might fight off the scholarship reduction and be competitive or am I dreaming? Can't wait to see Hackenberg and Breneman running that offense.
Adam Rittenberg (3:39 PM)
Dan, I think it's possible, but a lot would have to break Penn State's way in terms of no injuries, young players growing up quickly, key players being replaced. My sense is Penn State will have a rough season or two in the next four years. It might come next year, it might come the year after. If O'Brien can avoid it, it will speak to how good he is at his job.
You always say that northwestern isnt that great of a team because of their schedule then someone beats northwestern and you say its a good win for that team. Kinda contradicting. I really do think you hate northwestern for some reason
Adam Rittenberg (3:41 PM)
Kevin, I've been pretty consistent on Northwestern this season. It's a young team that has learned how to win faster than I thought it would. The Wildcats are a good team, not a great team. They've actually had fewer negatives (other than the blown leads) than most Big Ten teams, and they've definitely exceeded my expectations. I actually think next year could be huge for Fitzgerald's crew. But this year, it's a good team, a nice story. No hate here.
Bo Pelini (Lincoln, NE)
I've got pretty much everyone back next year...can I start talking seriously about a National Title yet?
Adam Rittenberg (3:42 PM)
I'm sure your players will, like they did this spring, which is fine. But let's get through the first week of October without a loss before talking about the title. UCLA won't be easy. But the Big Ten schedule certainly sets up well for Big Red.
Rob (NW Ohio)
Hi Adam, any news or general info you can pass along about Devin Gardner's potential medial redshirt? Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (3:44 PM)
Sorry for the delay, was searching for this link. Colleague Michael Rothstein sums up the Gardner situation well (http://espn.go.com/colleges/michigan/football/story/_/id/8596531/michigan-wolverines-mull-redshirt-devin-gardner). He definitely has a chance to get a medical redshirt, but Michigan has yet to apply for one.
Dave (Aurora, NE)
You hate all the Teams in the B1G. There...now you can quite answering all the whiners...
Adam Rittenberg (3:44 PM)
That's correct, Dave. But I also am a homer for every Big Ten team, too, according to blog readers. Can't win.
Last Year's WRs (The Past)
Will any wide receivers hit the 1000-yard mark this season? Robinson needs to average 104 ypg, Abbredaris 65 (assuming CCG), and Bell 75 (also assuming CCG).
Adam Rittenberg (3:45 PM)
Good point. It's going to be tough. Allen Robinson, who I wrote about today, has the best chance, but he'll need big performances this week and next week against Indiana.
OSU's offense is poised to be epic next year . . . can the defense survive the losses of Sabino, Simon, Williams (Hankins)?
Adam Rittenberg (3:46 PM)
Jared, that's the biggest question for Ohio State: defensive depth. It hasn't been good this season, and it could be an even bigger issue next year, especially if Hankins leaves. The Buckeyes really need some of their talented young defensive linemen (Washington, Spence) to blossom, as well as several LBs to make significant offseason strides. The secondary should be OK, but the depth in the front seven is a major concern.
Adam, do you see the Big 10 expanding to 14 teams anytime soon in the near future?
Adam Rittenberg (3:47 PM)
I don't, Tanner. The Big Ten presidents are pleased with a 12-team model and don't see the need to go beyond that, especially with few if any obvious candidates to add. If the Big Ten expands to 14, it will be as a reaction to what other leagues are doing, not because it actually wants to get bigger.
What has been going on with Prater this year? Thought hed be doing big things right now
Adam Rittenberg (3:50 PM)
He's the classic year-away player. He didn't play much at all at USC and looks like a guy still getting back into game shape. While it's good he got to play this season rather than sitting out, I'm not shocked he hasn't had a big impact. I also think he needs a bit of a reality check as a former five-star recruit. If he puts in a strong offseason, I think he can be very good in 2013. Has all the tools.
Scott (Peoria, IL)
Any chance Soldier Field could be the site of a bowl game for the Big 10? Too cold?
Adam Rittenberg (3:51 PM)
Scott, I think eventually, it will be. But it might not be for a very long time. The bigger issue is whether Chicago's organizing group can get it together as far as putting on the entire event, not just the game itself. Right now, Indianapolis is far ahead of any other Midwest city in doing what you need to do to put on major national/regional sporting events. Indy's proposal put Chicago's to shame back in 2011. But if and when Chicago puts together a better pitch, I know the Big Ten would love to have the game in the heart of Big Ten territory.
Brett Maher (Lincoln)
Am I actually struggling this year or have Nebraska fans just been spoiled by Alex Henery and my solid season last year?
Adam Rittenberg (3:52 PM)
Maybe a bit of both, Brett, but you seem to have caught the disease affecting most veteran kickers this season. Michigan State's Dan Conroy has the same disease. Hard to explain.
Bowl record of B1G, predict you will.
Adam Rittenberg (3:53 PM)
1-5, maybe 2-4? Doesn't look good for the Big Ten. Would be stunned if the league finishes with a winning mark. But as always, it's all about the matchups.
Kirk F (Iowa City)
Adam, should I change my scheme or stick to the same ol' plain scheme going forward. Will Greg Davis ever pan out as my OC?
Adam Rittenberg (3:54 PM)
I'll have a better answer for you next season, Kirk. The offense hasn't looked good aside from Mark Weisman's breakthrough, and the passing attack definitely seems to lack imagination. Combined with poor execution -- your word, not mine -- and you have a tough situation on your hands. But it's way too soon to pull the plug on Greg Davis, which isn't your style anyway. Let's see how he does with another offseason and a new QB -- Jake Rudock.
Who are possible replacements for Danny Hope at Purdue?
Adam Rittenberg (3:56 PM)
It'll be an interesting search. Would love to see Purdue think a little outside the box and look at a guy like Sonny Dykes at La Tech. Purdue needs to hire someone who generates buzz. Closer to home, I'm a big fan of Dave Doeren at Northern Illinois, and Darell Hazell has done a great job at Penn State. Both Doeren and Hazell have Big Ten roots. Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky is another name to watch.
Any word on Jordan Hall's redshirt? Will he be coming back for another year?
Adam Rittenberg (3:57 PM)
Andrew, will check on this, but that's definitely the plan. No sense in putting Hall out there now if you can get him back in 2013.
Do you ever get tired (even though its your job) of answering questions (even though its a chat) where people are asking a question, and then putting in parenthesis what they want you to say? i.e. penalties, or lack there of, or injuries, or location, ect...
Adam Rittenberg (3:57 PM)
Danny Hope (West Lafayette)
Does Sonny Dykes have as good of a moustache as I do?
Adam Rittenberg (3:58 PM)
If he doesn't, he'd have to work on it. Purdue absolutely cannot hire a coach without an A-plus mustache. It's in the university bylaws. He who cannot grow one, no matter how successful of a coach, cannot lead the Boilers.
not trolly (North Carolina)
Are you going to drop Denard on your fantasy team this week?
Adam Rittenberg (3:58 PM)
I don't have him (Bennett does), so I don't need to.
Frank Solich (The Ohio Bobcats) (Cyberspace)
Adam, If things dont work out with BO; will I have any opportunity to head back to Lincoln?
Adam Rittenberg (3:59 PM)
At your age, no. While you got a raw deal from Nebraska, Frank, you aren't going back there.
Adam Rittenberg (3:59 PM)
Last one for the day ...
Adam, wouldn't it be crazy if Indiana were to win against Wisconsin and then both teams lose their next 2 and Indiana goes to the Big 10 championship game with a trip to a bowl game on the the line? Ever heard of anything happening like that in a major conference?
Adam Rittenberg (3:59 PM)
No, I haven't. And it would be very fitting of the Big Ten this season to have a 5-7 team playing for a chance to go to the Rose Bowl. It'd be different, though!
Adam Rittenberg (4:00 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Thanks for the questions, as always. Let's do it again next week. Enjoy Week 11.
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