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 noon ET!
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Hey everyone, apologies for the long delay (brain cramp). Here now and ready for your questions!
Hey Adam. So Iowa should win this weekend, making them 3-1. However, all three of their wins would be against teams that have combined for zero wins this year. Couldn't (or shouldn't) we be holding off on the whole "improvements" thing until they play someone actually at a college level? Also, the Weisman and power running thing is great...but they looked that way last year against this level of competition (Weisman for Heisman, anyone?). The offense looks better...against worse competition. The defense actually looks worse. I think you're in for a rude awakening about how "improved" this team actually is once they start playing teams with a pulse.
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
Some fair points here, Jason. The offense did some good things against a strong Northern Illinois team in the opener, even though the team lost. I think it's fair to say there are some strides there, although Iowa set such a low bar last year. We'll definitely learn more about Iowa when the Big Ten schedule begins. After the Michigan State home game, things get very, very challenging for the Hawkeyes.
Willy, Hastings, Nebraska [via mobile]
Do u belive that the huskers would moving forward or backwards if they fired Bo Pelini. If this was a player, that showed continous problems, he would believe it was best to transfer.
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
A program almost always goes backward, at least initially, when it fires a coach. There are some growing pains in recruiting, mainly because of staff turnover or philosophy changes. Ultimately, though, if Nebraska feels Pelini can't get the program to the next level, a change is in order. I think most Nebraska fans are realistic about where their program is nationally, but winning a league title every so often is an understandable expectation. Pelini has yet to deliver there, and the defense has gotten worse and worse since Suh left.
What do you think of the University of Michigan PAYING Thousands of dollars to have a skywriter paint "Go Blue" over Spartan Stadium? ? ??
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Just reading up on it now, but that's disappointing. No real need for that. I love Michigan State's response to use the opportunity to raise money for cancer research.
Jon (Seattle, WA)
Hi Adam, thanks for the chat! It still feels like someone dropped my heart into a bucket of boiling tears, but I'm slowly getting over the Wisconsin loss to ASU. Is it safe to say that Bucky performed better in Tempe than you expected? I know they still need to improve in certain areas, but are they any more capable in your eyes of taking down OSU in the shoe?
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
In certain areas, yes, Wisconsin performed better than expected. But you saw once Arizona State stopped dropping passes, the Badger defense was on its heels quite a bit. Fatigue certainly played a role there. I'm also continually troubled by the pass-protection issues. But overall, Wisconsin held its own in a tough environment and should have had a chance to win the game. It's really a shame.
Is PSU pathetic or is UCF better than people thought before the upset? A loss to a non-conference team that isn't a powerhouse won't help on the recruiting trail.
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
No, it doesn't help, but if you really look at UCF, it's not as bad of a loss as it appears on the surface. UCF won 10 games last year and boasts several future NFL players, namely QB Blake Bortles. There are some valid concerns with Penn State's defense, and I wonder about the depth at both line and linebacker. But losing to UCF isn't the same as almost losing to Akron.
Last weeks win over Western Michigan was kinda a buzz kill for me. As a 'Cats fan should I be worried about the slow start, considering Big Ten play is right around the corner? Is there anything I should look for this week to ease any concerns?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
How is 3-0 a slow start for Northwestern? The Wildcats won a tough game on the road against Cal and dominated Syracuse. Sure, last week's game was a little lackluster, but that happens in college football, especially when the opposition is meh. Northwestern also wants to reveal as little as possible before the Ohio State game. Expect another vanilla game plan this week against Maine, a team Northwestern should be able to run all over.
Matt (New Albany, IN)
Stepping out a limb with that IU pick this week against Missouri. With the youth on defense, what makes you believe they may be turning a corner? Still hesitant as a fan to trust the D, but let's face it, it couldn't get much worse than it has been, right?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
First of all, I don't think Missouri is very good. But Indiana also impressed me last week on both sides of the ball. I saw more physical play from the defense and some playmaking ability. Sure, Indiana will need its offense to flex its muscles Saturday night, but playing at home, against a similar team (explosive offense, shaky defense), I like the Hoosiers. At some point, you need to turn a corner as a program.
Hey, Im heading to the Penn State game this weekend. Last year Kent State finished ranked in the top 25. I know they returned their top player yet they are 1-2 to start the year. Why are they struggling at the start of the year I thought this was going to be a tough game for Penn State?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
Well, Kent State went through a coaching change, which usually results in a step back or two. Dri Archer has an ankle injury and likely will miss Saturday's game. So the combination of coach/personnel losses has Kent State in somewhat of a rebuilding year.
Chris (Los Angeles, CA)
Hello Adam. Why isn't more attention/criticism being paid to Nebraska's OFFENSIVE play calling this past week? It seems clear to me that the extremely conservative play calling allowed the momentum to completely shift.
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
I hear ya, Chris, but I think a big part of that had to do with Taylor Martinez's injury. When you take his rushing ability away, it limits what Nebraska can do. And credit UCLA's coaches for making better adjustments defensively as the game went along.
Josh (Madison, WI)
Right now what do you think the odds of Wisconsin getting revenge against ASU in the Rose Bowl are?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
With Stanford and Oregon in the Pac-12 and Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten, I'd say very long.
Pace (Westfield, IN )
What is the reasoning behind Coach Wilson continuing to put Tre Roberson on the #1 line for the IU QB job? Seems like Sudfeld has separated himself from the pack.
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Good question, Pace. Wilson clearly wants to keep Roberson involved and not discourage him. Indiana likely will need Roberson down the line, and he can be effective in certain situations. But Roberson likely sees what the rest of us do: that Sudfeld looks like the answer at quarterback.
If Martinez can't play Saturday, who do u think gets the nod for Big Red? The talented freshman in Armstrong or the 5th year vet in Kellogg?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
They've been pretty even in practice, and I can make a case for getting both some reps against a weaker opponent. I think you need to get Armstrong in there a least a decent amount as he'll be a bigger part of the future than Kellogg.
Agreed about the Iowa offense against NIU, although I disagree about whether NIU is better than last year (you would think a team that made a BCS game last year, if supposedly better, would be ranked). However, the defense was worse than last year, and seems to be even more susceptible to giving up big plays. In the big ten, more often than not, defensive woes outweigh offensive improvement every time (Rich Rod anyone)?? Iowa seems to be going the exact path as last year. Maybe a 4-1 start, probably a 4-8 year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Didn't say NIU was better; just said the Huskies are a good team, ranked or not ranked. Big plays are an area Iowa's defense must address going forward, but the Huskies have been good against the run, where it typically starts in the Big Ten, and have received good play from their veteran linebackers. The Minnesota game is absolutely pivotal. Win that one, and Iowa could have a bounce-back season. A loss there could lead to another bowl-less campaign, looking at what the Hawkeyes have left.
Headed to South bend this weekend. Can my spartans pull the upset?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
They can, Tim, and it wouldn't shock me if they did, even though I picked ND. Michigan State will need to win the turnover battle, hold an edge in special teams and limit Notre Dame's big-play ability. The Spartans can't put the game on Connor Cook's shoulders. If their offensive line steps up and they can generate some type of run game against a stout ND defensive front, they'll be in good shape for a win.
Mark (Knoxvile, TN)
Only posting this one time. If it doesn't work I'm going back to posting 50 times. Iowa had lost 7 in a row before taking care of their last 2, a winnable game in front of us Saturday, and a winnable game in Minneapolis. Could have a 4 game win streak going into a home matchup with MSU. Iowa on the rise?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Ha, Mark, it's funny how one Iowa fan (Jason) thinks the Hawkeyes are going 4-8 and you see them as "on the rise." They're probably somewhere in the middle. But yes, this is definitely a chance to gain momentum. Minnesota certainly is a winnable game and so is MSU, especially at home. After that, the schedule is brutal for Iowa, so the time is now to make an impact.
Mike P (Greater KC)
Nebraska.... If they were to lose to SDSU this weekend will this be the train falling off the track... Any status update on Taylor Martinez?
Adam Rittenberg (1:03 PM)
Yes, it would be. And I don't expect Martinez to play because Nebraska really doesn't need him for this game, you would think.
John (Bloomington, IN)
I know I'm supposed to support the Big Ten, but after Wisconsin classlessly hung 81 on us (IU) a couple of years ago, I'm happy to see them suffer some heart-breakers. Throw me in the bitter "karma" category with Brett Bielema's wife.
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
Ouch. There really isn't much Big Ten pride, certainly not like there is in SEC country. Big Ten fans typically root for their team and don't care as much about league perception. As for Wisconsin, the 81 points didn't bother me that much (not an Indiana fan, to be fair). Indiana quit that day and should have shown more pride in preventing Wisconsin from doing as it pleased. And your karma argument is a little circular because Bielema was the one coaching Wisconsin that day.
Venric Mark: will he make a token, warm-up in game action appearance against Maine? And is his return for October 5th going to give Northwestern's offense an edge/better chance against Ohio State? (I'm dreaming of Colter-Mark running the option, Siemian-Green running the spread pass/play-action, and starting to get REALLY excited about the possibilities....)
Adam Rittenberg (1:06 PM)
Venric won't play against Maine because there's really no point. They want him to be 100 percent for Ohio State. His return definitely helps Northwestern's chances as it would ignite a zone-read game that hasn't been there as much in his absence. It's something else Ohio State would need to defend, especially in the red zone.
What Big Ten school has the best facilities?
Adam Rittenberg (1:07 PM)
I'd still go with Ohio State, but after Michigan finishes its Schembechler Hall renovation, I might give the edge to the Wolverines, who have arguably the nation's nicest indoor practice facility. Nebraska also is up there in facilities. Top notch.
Chris (Pensacola, FL)
As a counter to John in California's question...which schools in the Big Ten have the worst facilities?
Adam Rittenberg (1:10 PM)
It's a tougher question to answer as every Big Ten school has done something to upgrade its facilities. I'd still go with Northwestern, although a huge upgrade is on the way in the next 2-3 years. Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota would be near the bottom as well. One team that had surprisingly bad facilities until recently is Wisconsin. Iowa also is making some much-needed upgrades.
Dom (West Lafayette)
I saw some chatter about destinations for the national championship game. Is there any chance that Indianapolis/Minneapolis/Detroit could host a title game?
Adam Rittenberg (1:11 PM)
There is, Dom, and there should be. But it doesn't appear that those cities will bid on the initial title games. Indy would be the best bet, but Indiana Sports Corp, which oversees all major events brought to Indy, is focused on some other projects first before making a push for the title game.
The PAC 12 is getting some love by people saying they are gaining on the sec. I just don't see it. No one talks about the Oregon State loss to an fcs team. USC lost to Washington St- who lost to a bad Auburn team. Cal has 2 lasses vs. the B1G- and ASU should have lost to Wisc but instead they are now ranked ahead. I do think the top 2 teams in PAC12 are better than B1G- but the B1g has more depth!
Adam Rittenberg (1:12 PM)
Matt, I think there's some truth to what you're writing. The Pac-12 is definitely better at the top, and with UCLA and Washington, along with Arizona State, might have more top-half depth than the Big Ten. But I think the Big Ten has fewer really bad teams than the Pac-12.
Uhhh, Penn State's 108,000 seat stadium, world-class weightroom and other facilities are kind of nice too...
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
Penn State is up there, too, Joe. Beaver Stadium definitely needs some upgrades, though, after seeing what has been done at Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska. There are parts of it -- press box, coaches booths -- that need updating. The Lasch building is outstanding.
Adam Rittenberg (1:15 PM)
OK, guys, time for one more ...
Are the Nittany Lions defensive woes against a UCF just a hiccup??
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
We'll find out when Big Ten play begins. Penn State will face four potent offenses -- Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois -- to kick off league play. I'm a little worried about the Lions defense after last week's showing.
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
Ok guys, again, my apologies for the late start. Talk to you next week and enjoy the games Saturday!