Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's time to check the pulse of the Big Ten. Looks like the poor economy is affecting bowl ticket sales for several conference schools.
Wisconsin's ticket sales for the Champs Sports Bowl are down significantly from its previous two bowl trips (both to New Year's Day games), Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Ohio State is seeing a similar decline in Tostitos Fiesta Bowl ticket sales, which became open to the public on Wednesday, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"Not since the Alamo Bowl four years ago, off a rebuilding four-loss regular season, and the 1995 Citrus Bowl before that, has Ohio State had tickets left over to create a public sale. For a BCS bowl, this is new territory."
Northwestern is calling itself "The Redeem Team" as it heads back to the Valero Alamo Bowl, where it lost 66-17 to Nebraska in 2000, Richard Oliver writes in the San Antonio Express-News.
Minnesota star wide receiver Eric Decker is doing some running following left knee surgery and maintains he will return for his senior season in 2009, the Star Tribune's Kent Youngblood writes in his blog. Also, the Gophers' offensive line got a big boost with the signing of tackle Jeff Wills, Marcus Fuller writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
In a sporting age where coaches are disposable, Penn State's Joe Paterno continues to amaze us with his longevity and continued success, Mike Lopresti writes in USA Today.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has closely monitored the progress of his former team, Cincinnati, which he helped mold, Bill Koch writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer.