Nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh seeks to remain alone atop the WIAC football standings when it travels to UW-La Crosse on Saturday (Oct. 21). Kickoff between the two highest scoring teams in the conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Roger Harring Stadium at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex in La Crosse.
UW-Oshkosh (5-0, 3-0 WIAC) has won six straight meetings with UW-La Crosse (5-1, 2-1) by a combined 139-51 score to cut its deficit in the all-time series to 15-49-6.
The Titans, who have won 19 of their last 20 WIAC games, enter Saturday's contest ranked third in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com while the Eagles are among a three-way tie for second in the league standings.
UW-Oshkosh leads the WIAC with per-game averages of 42.2 points, 269.6 rushing yards and 489.6 total yards of offense. The Titans are also leading the conference in kickoff return average (26.9), punt return average (19.5), passing efficiency rating (180.5), turnover margin (+1.40), third-down conversion rate (.567) and average time of possession (35:24).
UW-La Crosse, which lists second in the conference with 34.5 points per game, paces the league by allowing just 12.5 points, 83.2 passing yards and 258.5 total yards per contest. The Eagles also average a WIAC-leading 282.2 passing yards per game and cede a league-low 68.9 passing efficiency rating.
The Titans' unbeaten start to the season includes a pair of road wins over teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation. UW-Oshkosh opened the year with a 23-17 victory at then-eighth-ranked John Carroll University (Ohio) and defeated then-ninth-ranked UW-Platteville, 28-14, last Saturday (Oct. 14).
UW-Oshkosh also secured home wins by scores of 74-7 over Virginia University of Lynchburg, 37-20 over defending WIAC champion UW-Whitewater and 49-14 over UW-Stevens Point.
UW-La Crosse opened the season with five victories by scores of 27-7 over Luther College (Iowa), 45-14 over Ripon College, 41-6 over Carroll University, 35-13 over UW-Stevens Point and 45-14 over UW-Eau Claire before the Eagles suffered a 21-14 loss at UW-Whitewater last Saturday.
Kasper, whose 184.6 passing efficiency rating ranks fifth in the country, has completed 67 of 101 passes for 1,037 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Hecker, UW-Oshkosh's all-time leading scorer with 330 points, paces a deep Titan backfield with 103 carries for 608 yards and nine touchdowns.
Mentkowski has a team-leading 23 catches for 505 yards and four scores.
The starting UW-Oshkosh starting offensive line of Tyler Powers, Austin Summers, Ty Summers, Alex Wendorf and Alex Wipperfurth has yielded just three sacks this season while paving the way for the Titans' 5.4 yards per rushing attempt.
Todarello also leads the UW-Oshkosh return units that rank fourth nationally on punts and sixth in the country on kickoffs. Todarello is averaging 23.5 yards on 13 kickoff returns and 22 yards on five punt returns. He has returned two punts for touchdowns during his career, including a 61-yard score this season.
The UW-Oshkosh defense is spearheaded by a quartet of players with at least 20 tackles. Jon Kallas has made a team-leading 33 stops while Derrick Jennings Jr. has added 29, Jamier Szymanski 21 and Scott Skornicka 20. Jennings Jr. leads the unit with two of the Titans' nine sacks and one of their three fumble recoveries.
UW-Oshkosh placekicker and punter Turner Geisthardt has connected on 4 of 6 field goals and each of his 22 extra points while averaging 40.2 yards on 13 punts, which include eight boots inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
UW-La Crosse's aerial attack was directed by Tarek Yaeggi until an injury sidelined him during the second quarter of the Eagles' loss at UW-Whitewater last Saturday. Yaeggi has accounted for 1,657 of UW-La Crosse's 2,511 offensive yards this season, including 1,510 yards with a WIAC-leading 14 touchdowns passing.
Drew David will likely start at quarterback for the Eagles against UW-Oshkosh. He has completed 17 of 42 passes for 150 yards and two scores this season.
UW-La Crosse's Nick Holcomb has 42 receptions for a league-best 722 yards and 10 touchdowns, which rank sixth in the country.
Ryan Kruser has added 23 receptions for 202 yards for the Eagles, who have also received 14 catches for 198 yards and three scores from Cole Spieker. Kruser also serves as UW-La Crosse's kick returner, averaging 33 yards on five kickoff returns and 10.5 yards on 19 punt returns. The Eagles have returned a pair of punts for touchdowns.
UW-La Crosse has been held to 3.4 yards per carry on the year as three Eagles have amassed more than 50 carries. Troy Bailey has 205 yards and three touchdowns on 51 rushes while Trenton Smith has 55 carries for 185 yards and five scores.
The UW-La Crosse defense has collected 21 sacks, five interceptions and seven fumble recoveries this season. Michael Garvey and Noah Risch lead the way with 36 tackles apiece as 15 Eagles have registered at least 10 tackles this year.
UW-La Crosse's Brandon McKandes ranks second in the WIAC with 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks while Luke Winnen has a team-leading two interceptions.
UW-La Crosse placekicker Bryce Wesling has converted 4 of 8 field goals and 23 of 25 extra points while punter Sean Parker has averaged 37 yards on 28 punts.
UW-Oshkosh has won just six games in La Crosse since the series began in 1919. The Titans' last three road victories over the Eagles were by scores of 41-7 in 2012, 21-18 in 2014 and 31-13 in 2015.