Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 4 p.m. ET!
Adam Rittenberg (4:01 PM)
Hey guys, lot of news in the Big Ten today. Let's get going.
Adam, from what we've seen so far, what team takes the Big10 title?---and, do they have a shot in the rose bowl vs socal?
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
I don't think the Big Ten wants any part of USC in Pasadena any more, though Ohio State held its own last week. ... Penn State right now looks like the team to beat, though the Lions need to spark their rushing attack in a hurry. Can't be one-dimensional and expect to win the Big Ten. ... Ohio State is still in the mix, along with Iowa.
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
And Michigan, don't forget Michigan.
Jon (Iowa City)
Are us Iowa fans getting too excited over a win vs a bad Iowa State team or do you think Iowa is a legit big ten contender?
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
Iowa did what good teams are supposed to do to bad teams. The difference was the blowout happened in Ames, where Iowa has looked very shaky over the years. So the Hawkeyes definitely should feel good about that one, but they'll need to pick things up against Arizona and Penn State.
You have Michigan ahead of the Bucks in your Big Ten rankings, do you feel Michigan will be better overall this year and beat Ohio State?
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Well, the power rankings are fluid and will change every week. Right now, Michigan has looked more impressive, but Ohio State is probably the better team if it plays to its potential on both sides of the ball. If the Buckeyes offense doesn't pick things up, it'll be a game in Ann Arbor.
Adam,Perhaps, the Buckeyes offensive problems are rooted in inexperience of the skill players. Robo, Beanie and Hartline are gone. It will take some time, but by the end of the year, watch out.
Adam Rittenberg (4:05 PM)
I agree, Doug. Let's give some of these young skill players a chance to shine. DeVier Posey did some nice things last week, and Duron Carter has a bright future. The entire offense just needs to jell better, from Pryor on down. They haven't really had a true identity since Pryor took over as QB.
How does Minnesota's D line stack up against Cal's O line? I feel like that could be a big factor on Saturday.
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
That's a good call, Sam. Though the linebackers have led the way for the Gophers' D, the defensive line has made some nice plays despite the loss of Willie VanDeSteeg. Minnesota has to keep Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen within its sights and put pressure on quarterback Kevin Riley, who usually starts slow.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Adam, who do you have winning Arizona or Iowa? I think this game, which is under the radar, is very intriguing and meaningful for both team's (where they stand).
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
Agreed, Will. I have Iowa winning, especially with Gronkowski out for the Wildcats. Should be a defensive struggle, but the Hawkeyes are always tough at home.
Jordan (Ft. Myers)
I wrote this to the mailbag but I gotta ask again. With an offense that has the tools to be proficient and veteran leadership in the D and the O-line doesnt Indiana have a good shot at going bowling this year. I just look at the teams after PSU OSU and Iowa and I do not see much difference between them. I'm just wondering if Indiana's position at the bottom of every Big Ten power ranking is due simply to the fact that everyone expected them to be there and they are just stepped on by everyone in the media in the Big Ten.
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
It's nice to see your confidence in IU, but the Hoosiers still have a lot to prove. Indiana has made a ton of mistakes in the first two games, but it finds ways to win. If the Hoosiers defense continues to step up, they'll have a chance. But I'm not quite sold.
Adam, given Mark Dantonio's specialty as a defensive backs coach, how do you think MSU's secondary will rebound against Floyd, Tate, and the rest of there high flying attack?
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
Given that fact you bring up, I was surprised how poorly the secondary played against Central Michigan. LeFevour is a good quarterback and has some weapons, but the Spartans really struggled. Now they face arguably the nation's top WR tandem in Tate and Floyd. They'll need to step things up big time.
Any chance FSU over BYU?
Adam Rittenberg (4:12 PM)
Wow, that's a surprising question and says a lot about how far non-BCS teams have come. But yes, there's definitely a chance. A pretty good one, too. But BYU is awfully tough on both sides of the ball.
Nick (Hollywood, FL)
Where would you rank MN's LB core, as of now in the big ten... they look like a pretty good group...
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
They have carried that defense so far. I just posted an item on Nate Triplett. The guy has come out of nowhere to make several huge plays in the first two games. They'll need to be even better against Cal and Best/Vereen.
Why did Jim Tressel hire the video coordinator to be the QB's coach at Ohio State? You don't see Florida, USC, Texas, Oklahoma doing this and now you see why OSU loses.
Adam Rittenberg (4:14 PM)
Siciliano basically has done this job for two seasons, so I don't know why there's so much criticism now. Obviously, Pryor needs to get better, but he's still pretty young and can grow into a more complete QB.
Jake (Honolulu, HI)
Adam, after such a close loss to Oregon, where does Purdue actually stand?
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
Tough to tell, Jake. It's hard to know where Oregon actually stands right now, either. Clearly, Purdue can put up points and Ralph Bolden looks like a stud to me, but the Boilers make too many mistakes, both at the quarterback position and on the defense. These next few games will be very telling. Purdue can certainly make a name for itself by knocking off Notre Dame next week.
If you had to choose one to start for your team saturday, Pryor or Forcier?
Adam Rittenberg (4:17 PM)
Wow, tough question, and my friend Nate says to answer it. Based on the two current offensive structures, I'd go with Forcier. If Pryor were in a total spread offense like Forcier, I'd probably go with TP. He's still pretty darn talented.
Nick (Hollywood, FL)
I have the conf's ranked as such..SECBig 12Big 10Pac 10ACCBig east/Mount WestWhat say you?
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
SEC is definitely No. 1, and then it gets a little muddled. I'd put the Pac-10 ahead of the Big Ten right now because the league is 2-0 in head-to-head. But the Big Ten can help itself this weekend against Cal and Arizona.
adam, why no heisman love for Jimmy Clausen? does he need to beat SC to have a chance?
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
He needs to keep doing what he's doing and lead his team to WINS. Stats are nice and Clausen will have some impressive ones in that offense, especially with those wide receivers, but he needs to win games, something he hasn't done consistently in South Bend.
Alan (Spartan Nation)
Who do you like in Saturday's match up of MSU and ND down in Spartan Stadium South?
Adam Rittenberg (4:21 PM)
A lot of interesting plot lines. I'll be in Minneapolis for Minnesota-Cal, but I'll definitely be watching what happens in South Bend. You have two teams desperate for victories, one head coach who could be finished if he loses (Weis). Also interested to see if Michigan State's veteran defense can keep Notre Dame's pass attack in check. This also could be the game where Kirk Cousins cements himself as MSU's starting QB.
Who do you have winning the NL wild-card this year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
Interesting you should ask, as I watch the Cubs flail away against the Brewers right now. It won't be the Cubs. I grew up a Giants fan, but it's hard to see the Rockies falling. Big win last night.
Adam, With a 2-0 start in Ann Arbor, How many wins do you for see the big blue winning this season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
Michigan should be 4-0 when it goes to East Lansing. The schedule gets a lot tougher in October, but I see Michigan winning eight or nine games this fall.
Nick (Hollywood, FL)
Do you think Marquies Gray will be the type of QB Prior is? or will he be more of a passer?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
I need to see more of Gray in games to make that judgment. They both have similar skill sets, and neither will be playing in a true spread offense, which could limit their effectiveness. Gray will need to be more of a passer in the pro-style system, and he did a nice job this spring.
Jordan (Ft. Myers)
I'm looking at this Northwestern-Syracuse matchup and as much as I dislike Paulus I think this might be his first win. I also think EMU could sneak up on the young UM team that is riding high on their amazing and somewhat surprising ND victory. Give me a couple upset specials that you think are highly possible this weekend.
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
Northwestern could have some trouble in Syracuse, but I can't imagine the Wildcats will be as vanilla as they've looked in the first two games. Went up to NU practice yesterday and the coaches were saying how this really serves as the team's second game since the opener was such a blowout. I'd imagine Northwestern will open things up ... Michigan could have an early letdown, but the Wolverines are too talented to lose to EMU.
Bad news for the Illini today with Martez Wilson going down, is there any hope for the rest of the season for them?
Adam Rittenberg (4:27 PM)
Really big blow for Wilson and the Illini. I feel bad for the kid, especially since it seemed like he'd really turned a corner during the offseason. Illinois needs Russell Ellington and others to step up, but Wilson was supposed to be the heart and soul of the defense this year. It's good Illinois has a bye week before Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State, but it could be a tough year in Champaign.
Gerrit (State College)
Adam, I keep up with the blog on a daily basis and not too bad. I know everyone has been talking about PSU's O-line and their struggles, but I do not feel the brand new secondary has proven themselves either. How do you think they've looked so far? And, how much better will they have to be for us to go undefeated? Have a good one.
Adam Rittenberg (4:28 PM)
The secondary really hasn't been challenged yet, but the front seven is so solid that it will mask some of the problems in the back four. Iowa's Ricky Stanzi really exposed some of Penn State's weaknesses in last year's game, so we'll see how the Lions fare against him this year.
Mark Dantonio could be facing his first real test at MSU. He looses this weekend? then faces wisconsin on the road then michigan. Possibly a 1-4 start? His seat will become hot in east lansing am I right?
Adam Rittenberg (4:30 PM)
No, it won't. Dantonio is totally safe in East Lansing. But this week is critical for the season. Michigan State can't afford the undisciplined play it showed last week. But the folks in East Lansing are thrilled with Mark D.
Xavier (Columbus, OH)
I've never seen Columbus more fed up with Jim Tressel in his nine seasons. Do you think major changes will ever happen, because I don't? Is it asking too much to have someone else call plays and he veto plays?
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
It will be interesting to see if Tressel faces more pressure to make changes, especially giving up the play-calling duties. If he keeps beating Michigan and winning Big Ten titles, the heat should die down, but I agree. Columbus is really down on him right now.
Since you answered this question re Clausen, I am hoping you answer this: considering that he is working with a completely new OL, and he is making his new WR look like skilled veterans, why isn't Daryll Clark getting more Heisman love? Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
C'mon Rodney, Clark has faced Syracuse and Akron. He's done a great job, mind you, but he's got to get it done against much better competition. I'm a huge fan of Clark's, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he's in New York in December. But he's got to do a lot more in more meaningful games.
As a Hawkeye fan, I am pretty nervous about this Arizona game. I do not know anything about them but I remember back to week two of the 2004 season. Iowa was favored going to Arizona State and got rocked, losing 44-7. I feel like this is the same situation. We should be pretty good again (we went 11-2 in 2004 and beat LSU in the Capital One bowl) but we have a Pac-10 team we know nothing about coming to Kinnick. How nervous should I really be?
Adam Rittenberg (4:35 PM)
Arizona is pretty solid, Kevin, and running back Nic Grigsby has been fabulous so far. But the Wildcats look a bit one-dimensional to me on offense. The key will be be Iowa's offensive line vs. Arizona's defensive ends, especially if Bulaga is out again. Iowa needs to show something in the run game to take pressure off of Stanzi.
Lucas (Huntsville, AL)
Are you going to do a new ranking of the Big Ten stadiums next week after visiting Minnesota's new stadium?
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
Good idea. I might do that.
Ryan (Ferndale, Michigan)
Can Rich Rod give enough snaps to Denard Robinson to keep him happy? Will we see both him and Forcier in the backfield at the same time? Seems like a lot of speed to keep on the sideline.
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
Yeah, I was a little surprised not to see Robinson play more last week, even as well as Forcier played. I'd be stunned if Robinson doesn't get more snaps against Eastern Michigan. They've got to get him more work in games. He's a real weapon with the ball in his hands.
JT (Minneapolis, MN)
What did you think of the Cleveland Plain Dealer article stating that BYU, Utah, TCU or Boise State (4 non-AQs) could each win the Big Ten? Any merit to it? If not, where do you think they would finish?
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
It's fun to speculate, and maybe one or two of those teams could do it. But I doubt all four them could. The non-BCS teams really get up for their games against BCS teams, but playing BCS competition week after week would take a toll, especially from an injury standpoint. The biggest difference between BCS and non-BCS teams is depth, and I think some of the elite non-BCS teams would really suffer with a Big Ten schedule.
Jim (East Lansing)
Bigger upside, Kirk Cousins of Keith Nichols? Is the lack of a starter going to hurt Michigan State?
Adam Rittenberg (4:41 PM)
Cousins is the starter. They're just not saying it. Cousins' leadership and passing mechanics are pretty solid, although I really like Nichol's athleticism. Cousins can cement himself with a nice game this weekend.
Big Penn State fan ..............What do you feel is more imposing for a team to come into ........Big House, Night Game @ Shoe, Night game at Kinnick or a White Out!!
Adam Rittenberg (4:43 PM)
Wow, tough question, Brandon. Ohio State was pretty rowdy last week. It'd between Ohio State and the Penn State Whiteout. Let me get back to you after the Penn State-Iowa game next week.
OK, how about a Badger question. Are they still trying to find their feet, or is this the badger team this year? Offense has/will click, but if the defense can find a secondary, the team could go 9-3 or even 10-2 with a heck of an easy schedule
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
Good points there, Justin. I really like what Scott Tolzien has done at QB, and if John Clay plays to his potential, the offense will be pretty dangerous. The defense really concerns me, though. Extremely soft on third down. If the defense can get a lot tougher, Wisconsin could get up to eight or nine wins with the schedule.
Brian (Springfield, Ohio)
I worry Tressel's "big game" losses may affect recruiting. Care to weigh in?
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
It hasn't happened yet, Brian. Luke Fickell is still on the staff, so Ohio State should get its share of top prospects. But it'll be interesting to see if recruiting suffers. It would give the anti-Tressel crowd some more leverage.
Do we really know how good Michigan actually is? They beat up on Western Michigan, but were scoreless in the 2nd half. They won a shoot out with ND, who appears to have been really overrated in the preseason polls.
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
Well, they have a real quarterback and a real offense, which is more than they had last year. The tempo on offense looks completely different to me. Michigan has some issues on defense with depth and youth, but this is a markedly improved team from 2008. Probably not a league title contender, but we'll see what happens.
Happy Valley (PA)
psu just landed a star 4 DE how is joe pa doing it
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
Nice get for PSU, but give the assistants all the credit.
Jake (Honolulu, HI)
with a Non-Conference schedule SEC can be proud of, does Indiana actually stand a chance to get a bowl game?
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
Saturday's game at Akron is a must win. I don't see the Hoosiers winning many games in the Big Ten, so going 4-0 nonconference with road wins against Akron and Virginia is mandatory.
Chris (State College)
Which game (besides the Ohio State game) do you see PSU having the biggest chance of losing?
Adam Rittenberg (4:49 PM)
I thought it was Illinois, but the Illini have had some trouble in the early going. Michigan has always been a tough game for Penn State, particularly in Ann Arbor. And Iowa beat the Lions last year. I'll go with the Hawkeyes and Wolverines.
Jim (San Diego)
Adam, what's your take on Michigan State? Was the game against CMU a poor game or a sign of things to come?
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
From being around this team a lot, I think it was an aberration. But we'll see how the Spartans respond against Notre Dame. Michigan State simply isn't good enough to be so undisciplined and give away points, but I don't think it'll happen again.
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
OK, guys, back to the grind. Thanks for the questions this week. Enjoy Week 3!