Last Saturday I was having dinner when an excited friend approached to express elation over Ohio State’s football demolition of Michigan earlier that day. “Doesn’t get any better than that,” I was told to which I responded, “It actually got better for me when Ohio State had clinched its win and I switched stations to check on Isaiah Bowser.”
Isaiah has become an outstanding freshman running back for Northwestern since joining the starting lineup at mid-season. Bowser graduated early from Sidney High and did spring practice with his new team so he wasn’t a total rookie when the squad assembled again in August.
When the Wildcats got the ball for the first time last Saturday, he immediately raced 55 yards to set up the game’s first score against Big Ten rival Illinois. On Saturday he totaled a season high 166 yards rushing on 18 carries. Even without the 55 yarder he had a fine day.
Northwestern, in suburban Chicago, started the season 1-3 including painful losses to visiting Duke and Akron. They then beat Michigan State and Nebraska to stand 3-3. Game seven at Rutgers saw the newcomer from Sidney get his chance after the senior incumbent ended his career due to a diagnosis of injury risk. Bowser ran for 108 yards and has followed with 117, 93, 165, 85, and 166 as his team won five of his first six starts, losing only to unbeaten non-conference power Notre Dame.
Before Rutgers he had gained two yards on two attempts. For the season he’s now amassed 736 yards with six touchdowns and an average of 4.6 yards per carry. Bowser also has five catches for 53 yards.
Northwestern clinched the Big Ten West Division title with two weeks to spare, awaiting to see who emerged from the East Division. This Saturday night the Wildcats will be in the central location of Indianapolis to play Ohio State for the conference championship (8 p.m., FOX). If the Buckeyes win, they could have a shot at the national title with only one loss. Should Northwestern pull the upset, a 9-4 record and Big Ten crown will prove attractive to a highly visible bowl game. Regardless, Northwestern is going to a solid bowl game.
The Sidney Daily News coverage area is definitely Buckeye Country and a big TV audience would result regardless of the opponent. In this instance that opponent’s featured running back is one of the greatest Sidney Yellow Jackets ever and a year ago led our guys to a 10-2 season with 2,695 yards rushing and 32 total TDs. Local interest will be at an all-time high for this Big Ten Championship Game.
Less than two months ago I was home on a Saturday afternoon and found Northwestern at Rutgers on TV so I could see if our hometown guy was possibly playing special teams. I wasn’t aware that he was being given the opportunity to get regular snaps at running back. The game began and there’s been no looking back. Ever since that day various media have kept on talking and writing about the freshman from Sidney, Ohio who is maximizing his only scholarship offer from a major conference.
I’ve been able to watch all of his games since and am excited for Saturday night. Like in his SHS days he’s running through defenders but he’s also proving elusive when carrying the ball. It’s my honor to follow this fine young man from my hometown whose college career is only beginning.
Dave Ross is the historian of Sidney HS football and authored a 438 page book on its first century that is available at the Ross Historical Center. He’s attended games for almost 60 years and is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.