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Northwestern to get RB Isaiah Bowser back for Michigan State game

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As Northwestern gets set to open Big Ten play Saturday, the Wildcats were on the receiving end of some good news on the injury front.

This time last week, Isaiah Bowser was ruled out of the Week 3 matchup with UNLV because of an unspecified knee injury suffered in the season-opening loss to Stanford.  Thursday, Northwestern released its injury report for the Week 4 game against Michigan State and Bowser was not listed.

Additionally, Bowser is listed as the Wildcats’ starting running back on the depth chart.

Bowser’s 54 yards on 10 carries against the Cardinal led the Wildcats.  Last season, he led the team with 866 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

In replacing Bowser, Drake Anderson ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in the win over the Rebels.

Northwestern rules out RB Isaiah Bowser for UNLV game

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If Northwestern is to bounce back from its season-opening loss, it’ll do so without a player expected to again be a significant contributor in its running game.

In the Week 1 setback to Stanford, Isaiah Bowser went down with an unspecified injury to his knee.  With the Wildcats on a bye in Week 2, it was hoped that the running back would be healthy enough to take the field in Week 3.

Unfortunately for both the player and the football program, Bowser Thursday was officially ruled out for Saturday’s non-conference matchup with UNLV.  As is standard, the program didn’t detail the nature of the injury that will sideline the back.

Bowser’s 54 yards on 10 carries against the Cardinal led the Wildcats.  Last season, he led the team with 866 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

With Bowser out, Drake Anderson (two carries, five yards in the opener) is expected to take over as the bell cow in NU’s running game.

Northwestern QB T.J. Green undergoes season-ending foot surgery

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At least on the field, Northwestern won’t have its veteran security blanket if needed under center.

Hunter Johnson, a transfer from Clemson, began the 2019 season as Northwestern’s starting quarterback in the opener against Stanford.  Late in the first half, however, Johnson was replaced by T.J. Green as the Wildcats’ offense was sputtering.  Green started the second half as well, although he went down with a lower-leg injury in what turned out to be a 17-7 loss.

It was reported earlier this week that the injury could be serious.  Thursday, that severity was confirmed as head coach Pat Fitzgerald announced that Green underwent foot surgery and will miss the remainder of the 2019 season.

Green, the son of former NFL quarterback Trent Green, is a fifth-year senior and former walk-on.  There’s a distinct possibility Green could get a sixth season of eligibility if that’s the tack he wants to take.

In the opener, Johnson, now the unquestioned starter moving forward, completed 6-of-17 passes for 117 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.  He was also sacked twice and lost 26 yards.  Prior to his injury, Green went 6-10 for 62 yards, taking one sack that lost a yard.

Following a bye in Week 2, Northwestern will play host to UNLV Sept. 14.

Oregon takes biggest tumble in latest Coaches’ Top 25 poll

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The lone upset involving a ranked team has proven costly for the school on the wrong end of the final score — well, as costly as it can be for a poll that’s essentially meaningless.

Oregon entered Week 1 ranked No. 13 in the preseason USA Today coaches’ Top 25.  Following its loss to No. 16 Auburn, the Ducks tumbled all the way down No. 18 in the latest coaches’ poll released Tuesday afternoon.

As for the Tigers, they jumped three spots to No. 13, the biggest upward move of the week for teams that were ranked in the previous poll.

The top seven spots remained unchanged, with Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio State, LSU and Michigan still ranked Nos. 1-7. Clemson with 58 and Alabama with six were the only teams to claim first-place votes.

Notre Dame and Texas moved up one spot each to Nos. 8 and 9, respectively.  Coming off an uninspiring four-point win over unranked Miami, Florida dropped two places to No. 10.

Two schools made their 2019 debuts in the coaches’ poll — Boise State at No. 24 and Nebraska at No. 25.  Iowa State (No. 24) and Northwestern (No. 25) both dropped from the rankings, the former after a three-overtime win over an FCS school and the latter following a loss to No. 23 Stanford.

UCF at No. 17, the same place they were entering the weekend, is the second of two non-Power Five schools in the Top 25.

Injuries highlight No. 25 Stanford’s low-scoring win over Northwestern

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The Pac-12 scored a much-needed non-conference victory on Saturday afternoon over the defending Big Ten West title-holders but it proved to be a costly one in terms of injuries for both sides. At least Stanford head coach David Shaw can revel in a 17-7 win over Northwestern in a game that was far uglier as the final scoreline indicated.

Shaw’s quarterback K.J. Costello was the first major injury in the contest, suffering what appeared to be a head injury after a defender’s forearm slammed into his helmet while he was sliding at midfield just before time expired in the first half. He didn’t return to the game after a pretty solid start to the season with 152 yards and a touchdown. Backup David Mills, a former top recruit, entered in the third quarter and did just enough to keep the chains moving while throwing for 81 yards.

Brandon Scarlett rushed for 97 yards in his first action as the lead back for the Cardinal while Connor Wedington (69 yards) and Michael Wilson (47 yards, one touchdown) emerged as the top options in a passing game that has a lot of new faces in the lineup compared to 2018.

While Stanford clearly slowed down after their starting quarterback went down, the same was the case for Northwestern even though it was the backup exiting that seemed to throw off the Wildcats. Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson got the start but was uneven throughout, tossing an interception on his first drive (he tossed another later on) and completing just five passes for 46 yards. Backup T.J. Green entered on the final series of the first half and seemed to have the offense moving a little more but he exited after taking a hit and fumbling, not returning the rest of the way.

To make matters worse, the heart of the NU attack also left the game as tailback Isaiah Bowser suffered a leg injury after rushing for 54 yards on 10 carries. Factor in four turnovers, losing the lopsided time of possession battle, fumbling for a touchdown on the final drive plus managing just 201 yards of offense and it was a forgettable debut for Johnson and the rest of Pat Fitzgerald’s crew who didn’t play on defense.

The defending division winners in the Big Ten still can regroup when they head across country as they proved last season when they lost all their non-conference games yet still made it to Indianapolis. The quarterback play had to be a bit of a red flag for those in purple however — to say nothing of the injuries.

As for Stanford, they won their 12th straight home opener and notched a badly needed non-conference victory for their beleaguered conference lacking much of note early in 2019. The defense forced four turnovers and the offense somehow found a way to win despite the loss of Costello early on. The Cardinal will certainly take a 1-0 start as they pass the first of a number of tough tests this month with USC and a trip to UCF upcoming over the next few weeks.