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 1 p.m. ET!
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Hey guys, Week 2 is just around the corner. Big one in Ann Arbor on Saturday night. Let's chat!
Jeremy (The school without football in Milwaukee)
Adam, would absolutely love to hear your take on this discussion. What game was more critical to putting UW to the "next level"...beating OSU in 2010 or beating MSU in first Big Ten totle.game. Lovve the blog, read it daily while day dreaming about my school one day getting.football again
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Interesting question, Jeremy. I think the Ohio State win in 2010 showed Wisconsin can win at the highest level. Bret Bielema had lacked a true signature win like that, and the program seemed to turn a corner from that point. The 2011 Big Ten title game mattered, too, but Wisconsin was supposed to win that one.
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
Purdue or Illinois: who's more promising?
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
Well ... have to go with Illinois after Week 1. The Illini showed a lot more explosiveness on offense with six plays of 30 yards or longer, matching their total from ALL OF LAST SEASON. But I'll have a better answer for you after Illinois plays Cincinnati, which crushed Purdue last week. Purdue has a lot to work on.
When will the Big Ten step up and challenge me? Im very bored crushing all other conferences. I have more fun when other conferences are challenging....
Adam Rittenberg (1:03 PM)
Feel free to come up to Big Ten country. I know, I know, you don't want to leave the comforts of home. Our door is open. It's wonderful around these parts in late November. You'll love it.
What does Michgan have to do to defeat Notre Dame at the big house?
Adam Rittenberg (1:04 PM)
The biggest key is to limit the effectiveness of Irish star defensive linemen Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt. Michigan will be sending some young offensive linemen against them, and if they can't create rushing lanes or buy time for Devin Gardner in the pocket, it could be a long night. Michigan in many ways outplayed ND last year but lost the game because of Denard Robinson's turnovers. The Wolverines have to take care of the football on Saturday, starting with Gardner.
Adam, Can you please shed any light on how Oregon passes Ohio State in the AP this week? Ohio State was playing pretty much 10 new starters on Def, and missing 2 RBs. While I feel that the Buckeyes got a bit lax after the 1st Qtr (Up 23-0), paying for it in 2 turnovers resulting in points, how could voters not see how potant this team is?
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
And they don't think Oregon is potent? Listen, rankings this time of year are meaningless. Oregon looked more impressive against a weak opponent than Ohio State did. The Buckeyes looked disinterested after the first quarter and made some sloppy plays. No issue with the Ducks moving ahead.
What do you think about the offensive game plan Hazell went with against Cincy? It seems like he had picked out his offensive system and is trying to mold Henry into it, instead of playing to the strength's of Henry i.e. using his legs instead of expecting him to have any semblance of accuracy down the field.
Adam Rittenberg (1:07 PM)
Jordan, I asked him about this for my column about the spread offense this week, and he said Purdue didn't run enough plays to mix in some of the different elements of the offense. The communication issues and the turnovers prevented Purdue from really showing its true plan. I do agree, though, that having Henry run a true pro-style offense without much QB run is a mistake.
Best/worst case scenario for the gophers this season
Adam Rittenberg (1:08 PM)
Best-case scenario is probably 9-3 with several signature wins along the way. Minnesota's Big Ten schedule isn't easy, especially the final seven games. So if it goes badly, I could see Minnesota finishing 4-8 or 5-7. The San Jose State game in Week 4 could be huge for the Gophers.
Alex (Ann Arbor)
Would you rather live a life as a real-life: historical Spartan, Hoosier, Cornhusker or Illini?
Adam Rittenberg (1:09 PM)
Alex, I'll have to do more research on the Illini tribe -- live in Illinois but don't know my state history too well -- but I'd lean toward being a Spartan.
Chris (Mclean VA)
I think the best guest picker this year would be @evilbillobrien
Adam Rittenberg (1:10 PM)
I'm sure Illinois fans would appreciate his insights.
Can Nebraska defeat Ucla in week 3?
Adam Rittenberg (1:11 PM)
Sure they can. Nebraska is at home and can put up points with anyone. But the Huskers have to clean up a lot of things on defense to beat a very impressive UCLA team. Right now, I'd definitely give the Bruins the edge, even though Nebraska is at home. If Nebraska can get by Jim Mora's team, it should enter November undefeated.
What did you think of Christian Hackenberg in his 1st start? Do you he did well for a true freshman? How high is his ceiling, this year and beyond?
Adam Rittenberg (1:12 PM)
Definitely impressed with Hackenberg. That long touchdown strike to Lewis was a thing of beauty and signs of things to come. He did really well for a first start despite the interceptions, and I trust Bill O'Brien when O'Brien says he put Hackenberg in too many tough situations. Hackenberg has tremendous potential going forward.
MJ (Lincoln Park)
Do you think Norfleet finally takes one to the house against ND?
Adam Rittenberg (1:13 PM)
It certainly could happen, MJ, if not against Notre Dame than sometime soon. I like what Norfleet brings for Michigan, and his role on returns might be huge in what figures to be a close game between the Wolverines and Notre Dame.
John (San Antonio)
How much failure at QB for MSU before Terry gets a chance?
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
I hope not much, John, as I really think Terry is the future for Michigan State's offense. But it sounds like Connor Cook and Tyler O'Connor will get extended looks against USF. Cook, O'Connor and Maxwell all would have to continue struggling for MSU to burn Terry's redshirt. Mark Dantonio really doesn't want to hurt Terry's confidence so early in his career.
Jon (Seattle, WA)
Which Big Ten team do you feel more confident in, Nebraska beating UCLA at home or the Badgers taking out ASU in Tempe?
Adam Rittenberg (1:15 PM)
Nebraska, but mainly because the game is in Lincoln. Arizona State looks like a really tough matchup for Wisconsin, not just because the game is in Tempe but the type of offense Todd Graham runs with the Devils. Taylor Kelly is an excellent QB with good WRs, and Wisconsin is still suspect in the secondary. I also worry about Wisconsin going from two tomato cans to facing a really good team on the road. We'll see, maybe they'll surprise me.
Thoughts about Ohio State (or all B1G teams) playing an SEC opponent every year at the start of the season as one of their OOC games.
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
It's a nice idea, Nick, but the SEC schools would never get on board. They don't like giving up home games or traveling to Big Ten country. Alabama is the only SEC team that deserves credit for being willing to play the BIg Ten on the road. Scheduling is a lot tougher than you think, especially because much of the SEC believes it doesn't have to challenge itself outside of league play.
Your prediction for UM v ND?
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
Where were you at 8 am, Kiefer? C'mon, dude. Michigan 24, Notre Dame 21. Check the blog for my explanation.
Should NU rest Colter for essentially the first 5 weeks and have him be in top form for OSU, or have him play and let him take some hits so his more durable, at risk of injury?
Adam Rittenberg (1:19 PM)
I think with a concussion, if a guy is cleared, he should play. If not, he shouldn't. It's not like a leg injury where extra rest makes a difference. Colter could be pretty rusty for the Ohio State game without any game reps. But you don't take any chances with a head injury, and Northwestern's athletic training staff won't.
I was surprised that there weren't more passes to the TE in the PSU game. Do you think we see more of that as the season goes on with all the talent at that position?
Adam Rittenberg (1:20 PM)
Matt, injuries played a role there as Matt Lehman suffered a season-ending injury and Kyle Carter also was banged up for a bit. I definitely expect the tight ends to have a bigger role in the passing game as the season goes along. A young QB like Hackenberg might rely on a guy like Allen Robinson at first, but he'll soon see what the Lions have at TE with Carter, James and Breneman.
Big Tens record against the Pac-12 in week 3?
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
I think Ohio State wins and Wisconsin and Illinois both lose. Haven't decided on the Nebraska-UCLA game just yet.
Will (Alexandria, VA)
In the scope of this season with BCS aspirations for both teams, who needs this win more, ND or Michigan?
Adam Rittenberg (1:22 PM)
Looking at Notre Dame's meat grinder of a schedule, the Irish probably need the game more, as they have so many other tough contests left. Michigan could lose this one and still finish 10-2.
Chuck (Bloomington, IN)
Another week in Bloomington, another question mark at QB. Everyone looked good, but Sudfeld seemed to be the one who was the best last week against ISU. Do you think we'll see him start Saturday, or will Roberson get the start again?
Adam Rittenberg (1:23 PM)
Wouldn't shock me to see Roberson start again, but I think Sudfeld is the long-term solution for Indiana at QB. He has the best arm of the three and great size. Roberson's running ability is nice, but Wilson's offense is based around high-percentage passes and great receivers. Sudfeld looks like the best bet going forward, but we'll see.
How far do you believe Iowa could go. I know the first game was lost but there are at least 11 left. Got to admit it was the first game in two seasons I could watch without being upset.
Adam Rittenberg (1:24 PM)
You weren't upset in the last few minutes? Wow, you are the zen master, Ian. But I hear you about Iowa looking better overall despite the loss. The Hawkeyes could be an improved team this season, but they need to sweep the final three non-con games and then open Big Ten play with a win at Minnesota. The league schedule doesn't favor Kirk Ferentz's squad with crossovers against both Ohio State and Wisconsin.
In response to Matt from Ohio's question, i watched the game 3 times. They kept TE's on the line a lot to block due to Syrcause blitzing with 7-8 players.
Adam Rittenberg (1:25 PM)
Good observation, Jim. Syracuse really focused on the run blitz in that game and took away Penn State's ground game.
Big Ten teams play 5 ranked teams out of conference this year. SEC teams play 7 ranked teams out of conference this year. Three of the Big Ten ranked teams are Notre Dame. So, I guess I just don't see how Big Ten fans can get onto SEC fans for their out of conference scheduling.
Adam Rittenberg (1:27 PM)
I agree the Big Ten's non-league schedule is poor, but how many SEC teams would be willing to play the Big Ten in non-league games? One of them, Vanderbilt, pulled out of TWO games against Big Ten opponents this year (Ohio State and Northwestern). Most SEC teams want nothing to do with playing Big Ten competition. The Big Ten undoubtedly needs to beef things up, but if the SEC isn't willing to play you, what do you do?
Justin (Miami, FL)
What was wrong with Nebraska's secondary against Wyoming? I expected the d-line and linebackers to struggle but I expected the secondary to be better with more experience. Do you see te secondary holding Southern Miss under 150 passing yards?
Adam Rittenberg (1:28 PM)
I still think the problem for Nebraska is protecting the middle of the field against teams with mobile quarterbacks. There's just too much space to operate, and we've seen that for three seasons with the Huskers. I still think the secondary will be fine in the long run. The bigger concern is at linebacker.
Adam, Again, so glad to have you guys helping us with coverage of the B1G. Makes the season a lot more fun! I have a comment, and would love your thoughts. I'm an iowa hawk and actually am a big supporter of ferentz...and after week 1 actually sense there could be significantly brighter days to come with Davis. However, I felt the play calling in the last couple of drives was unacceptable. We did a great job of mixing it up once we got comfortable in the 2nd quarter and did that until about 6 minutes left in the game. Then the crazy bomb at 3rd and 1 & then also that ridiculous pass to the outside when 2 or 3 first downs with bullock and weisman gets US into field goal range. I would have felt better after the game if Ferentz and Davis took more responsibility for the loss. Ruddock did enough, along with receivers and a solid defensive performance against Lynch, to earn a win. Your thoughts? Frustrated with the coaching for the first time in a long time...felt the PLAYERS deserved that one.
Adam Rittenberg (1:30 PM)
Mark, first of all, please don't post your question 50 times. It's really annoying. I agree that Davis' late-game play calls were puzzling and disappointing. The bubble screen on third-and-9 made me throw up a bit in my mouth. The third-and-1 play was there for a big gain, but you have to wonder why Iowa doesn't just go to Weisman against a new-look defensive line from a MAC team. I liked what I saw from Rudock until the last series, but there were breakdowns on both sides of the ball and with the coaching staff. Tough one to lose.
Many people thought that SD State would be Ohio State's toughest nonconference game, did week 1 change the general opinion of that?
Adam Rittenberg (1:31 PM)
Uh, yeah. San Diego State gets crushed at home by Eastern Illinois and Cal more than holds its own against Northwestern. It's clear that Cal will be Ohio State's toughest non-league test, as the "Bear Raid" offense led by talented freshman QB Jared Goff will test that Buckeyes D.
Adam, do you think OU has any shot at Big 12 title. Defense looked great and if Trevor Knight improves accuracy, offense could be lethal.
Adam Rittenberg (1:33 PM)
Ah, a Big 12 question. Where's Jake Trotter when I need him? Yes, Oklahoma definitely has a chance in a wide-open league this year. It'll be OU, Okie State and Texas competing for the title, as I think TCU is overrated. Good start for the Sooner D.
Damian (California )
Your thoughts about Maryland going to the Big Ten next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:35 PM)
Well, I feel a little better after Maryland's Week 1 victory than I did after watching the Terps fumble around last year. Clearly, Maryland moves up in class in the Big Ten East division. It'll be interesting if Maryland can fix its financial woes to compete in a league with more resources than the ACC. From a recruiting standpoint, Maryland is a good addition as Big Ten teams can spend more time pursuing talent in the fertile Maryland/DC/Northern Virginia area.
You answered my question...so obviously the re-posting works, right? I could just not come to the chat. OK, I'll come to the chat, and only post once. Not as annoying as the Iowa play calling in the last 2 drives though, guaranteed.
Adam Rittenberg (1:36 PM)
Ha, fair enough!
I don't have a problem with the Big Ten not wanting to play the SEC. I do get sick of hearing from people about how the SEC out of conference scheduling is the reason they have won the last seven national titles. Generally, teams schedule one other BCS team. That's no different than the Big 12 or the Big Ten. The Pac 12 is the only one that I think really schedules up out of conference.
Adam Rittenberg (1:37 PM)
I think that's a fair point, John. The good thing is that the Playoff will force teams to beef up their schedules. We're already seeing it in the Big Ten, and we should see it more in other leagues. I just don't like the SEC's mentality that there's no need to play anyone outside the league because the league is so strong. Fans deserve better matchups throughout the year, and the Playoff should provide them.
Pete (The burg )
I see Cappy is going to speak to psi team this week. Seems like BoB has done a great job of using all available resources. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (1:39 PM)
He's done a fabulous job with outreach, Pete. Remember how unpopular O'Brien's hire was at the time, as former players had such loyalty to Joe Paterno. While some of those players remain upset with the university, they've embraced O'Brien, who has embraced them and Penn State's tradition. He has navigated that part of his job really, really well.
Is MSU really that shaky? Or should I downgrade Iowa's win total to 2? If WMU can put up 13 against MSU, they might put up 40 on Iowa. Also...is Northern Iowa the best football team in the state?
Adam Rittenberg (1:40 PM)
I wouldn't read into Western Michigan's points total. It had more to do with Michigan State doing absolutely bupkis on offense and giving WMU chances to score. Northern Iowa might be the best team in the state, but I still have hope for Iowa after seeing some good signs in the opener.
Who do you predict will get the most yards through the air after Abbrederis for the Badgers? I don't see Doe getting many looks for some reason. Feel like he would have had more in past seasons if he was going to be a factor. Sadly I think it's going to be Pedersen.
Adam Rittenberg (1:42 PM)
You're probably right, Nick. Maybe the light comes on for Jordan Fredrick, but the feeling both inside and outside that program is that there's more talent at tight end with Pedersen and co. I also want to see how much Andy Ludwig uses White and Gordon as receivers out of the backfield.
What are your thoughts on McGloin making the Raiders roster. Is this the ultimate recommendation for any top flite QB hopeful to go to PSU?
Adam Rittenberg (1:44 PM)
Absolutely, Al. It's a credit to Matt, who has worked extremely hard and deserves all the good things who come his way. But O'Brien undoubtedly took his game to a level most of us didn't think it could go. Now he has built on that with the Raiders.
Adam with all of the non-league talk this chat, is there a chance we would ever see the top of both leagues (OSU and Ala) ever meet at the beginning of a season?
Adam Rittenberg (1:46 PM)
It's certainly possible, Gregory, but one potential drawback is that Ohio State AD Gene Smith isn't a huge fan of neutral-site games. We've seen Alabama play one against Michigan (2012), and another one is on the schedule for 2015 (Wisconsin). It seems like the neutral-site game is the way to go for the blockbuster season opener, but Ohio State would have to be willing to leave The Shoe to make it happen. That'll be increasingly tougher when the Big Ten goes to nine league games.
Chuck (Bloomington, IN)
Piggy-backing off of Damian's Maryland question, do you think the Big Ten is gonna try and encourage Maryland and Rutgers into a "rivalry", or is the Big Ten going to encourage those two schools to develop other rivalries, perhaps by shoehorning in some trophies or something? The only sort of rivalry I can see either of those two schools making would be with Penn State, who's a bit of an outlier to begin with.
Adam Rittenberg (1:47 PM)
It's hard to manufacture a rivalry, Chuck, and I don't know if it's the league's place to create a trophy for a game involving Rutgers or Maryland. Ideally, a rivalry could spawn between them because of their location and their placement in the East division. Both teams could build something with Penn State, and I've heard that the Big Ten will have some type of rotation of games between Maryland, Rutgers, PSU and Michigan State for rivalry weekend.
Doug (KC, MO)
Am I crazy to think that there is some legit hope for the Hawkeyes? I know that the offense looked similar from a result perspective but if the defense can stop giving up big plays and Ruddock continues to grow, I think Iowa can get to 6 wins. (especially given the lackluster performances by the rest of the Legends last week) Tell me I'm wrong.
Adam Rittenberg (1:50 PM)
No, I saw the improvement, too, Doug. I actually was pleased with the defense until that breakdown in the secondary allowed the game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. There's something to build on, but Iowa absolutely must win its next three games and probably its next four. After that, you have MSU, Ohio State, Northwestern and Wisconsin. Iowa gets a break with Purdue and then finishes with Michigan and Nebraska. I don't see too many wins down the stretch for Ferentz's crew.
Brisket, ribs, or Fondue?
Adam Rittenberg (1:51 PM)
Brisket. Love brisket.
Michael (Texas )
Is Nebraska's problems on defense John papuchis? Should no have tried for somebody more established?
Adam Rittenberg (1:53 PM)
This is a common complaint among Nebraska fans, not just regarding Papuchis but many of Pelini's assistants. Nebraska certainly isn't the most experienced staff, but I don't know if Papuchis is the issue with the defense. They still don't have enough Big Ten-quality linebackers, and they're not stout enough at defensive tackle. Coaches talk often about up-the-middle defense, and Nebraska just isn't strong enough at DT and LB. So it's more of a recruiting issue in my view.
MJ (Lincoln Park)
Since ND is leaving the schedule after next season, who would you like to see Michigan play instead?
Adam Rittenberg (1:54 PM)
The SEC or the Pac-12. I'm glad Arkansas is on the future schedule, and it'd be great to see Michigan go out west to play UCLA or USC in the future. Would help Michigan's recruiting in California, as well.
Am I wrong to say Michigan and Wisconsin are the only two big ten teams that impressed me so far.:
Adam Rittenberg (1:55 PM)
They both were impressive in Week 1. Indiana's offense was impressive, albeit against Indiana State (could make same case about Wisconsin against UMass). Northwestern also deserves some credit for winning a game at a Pac-12 stadium after losing starting QB Kain Colter on the second play and not having RB Venric Mark at full strength.
Good for McGloin, but I'm more happy for Mauti making Vikes roster after his almost career ending injury last year. hard work & tenacity pay off
Adam Rittenberg (1:56 PM)
Agree. If you don't like Michael Mauti, there's something very wrong with you. Great person, great player. What he did last season at Penn State will never be forgotten.
Adam Rittenberg (1:57 PM)
Any other questions? Got time for 1-2 more.
Without the flea flicker (trick play against a MAC team, YAY!!), Iowa threw for 203 yards and put up 13 points. The defense gave up 453 yards and 30 points compared to 205 yards and 17 points last year. Where exactly are these good signs?
Adam Rittenberg (1:59 PM)
Jason, I hear ya, but Northern Illinois was a much better team last Saturday than the one Iowa faced at Soldier Field. Jordan Lynch made his first career start last year -- now he's one of the nation's best players. Again, I didn't have many issues with the defense until that last breakdown. Lynch is going to make plays. The offense is more of a work in progress, and Iowa's run game disappointed me a bit.
How does MSU's D not impress you??? Its the most dominate force in the big ten.... if the O scored 3 TD's it equals a W for MSU.
Adam Rittenberg (2:00 PM)
Dan, the Spartans have become a nationally elite defense year in and year out. I agree that three offensive touchdowns will equal a lot of wins, but the Spartans are a mess on offense right now. A long, long way to go there.
Adam Rittenberg (2:00 PM)
OK, time's up. Enjoy Week 2.