UW-Oshkosh seeks to cap its sixth perfect WIAC football season in program history when it visits UW-Stout on Saturday (Nov. 11). Kickoff for the Titans' regular season finale is set for 2 p.m. at Williams Stadium in Menomonie.
UW-Oshkosh, which has been victorious in each of its six WIAC games this season, previously won each of its league contests in 1923 (5-0), 1935 (4-0), 1972 (8-0), 2012 (7-0) and 2015 (7-0). The Titans also went unbeaten in the WIAC in 1920 (4-0-1) and 1928 (3-0-2).
The Titans, ranked third in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, clinched their third straight and fourth overall NCAA postseason berth with a 42-7 triumph over UW-Eau Claire last Saturday (Nov. 4) in Oshkosh. The win improved UW-Oshkosh's overall record to 8-0.
UW-Oshkosh has a one-game lead over defending league champion UW-Whitewater (5-1 WIAC) in the WIAC standings with one contest remaining. The Titans, who have claimed 10 WIAC titles, earned the league's automatic berth to this year's 32-team NCAA Division III Championship by virtue of their 37-20 victory over UW-Whitewater on Sept. 30.
The NCAA will announce the Division III Championship field during an online selection show at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 12). UW-Oshkosh players and coaches will assemble in Room 1214 of Sage Hall to watch the selection of teams and the unveiling of the playoff bracket.
Saturday's matchup with UW-Stout (5-3, 3-3 WIAC) will pit UW-Oshkosh's league-leading offense against the Blue Devils' top-rated defense.
UW-Oshkosh enters the contest leading the WIAC in per-game scoring (40.8), scrimmage yards (482.1), rushing yards (244.9), tackles for loss allowed (4.38) and sacks yielded (1). The Titans also pace the conference in third-down conversion rate (.485), completion percentage (.648), passing efficiency rating (186.27), red zone offense (.879), turnovers lost (9) and interceptions thrown (4).
UW-Stout leads the WIAC by allowing just 276.8 yards per game and limiting opponents to a .556 success rate in the red zone.
UW-Oshkosh owns a 37-23-1 record against UW-Stout in a series that began in 1947. The Titans have won their last seven meetings with the Blue Devils by a combined 290-95 score, including a 45-17 victory in Oshkosh last season.
The Titans, who advanced to the final of the Division III Championship a year ago, have won 22 of their last 23 WIAC contests. UW-Oshkosh's last loss to UW-Stout was a 28-14 decision on Nov. 13, 2010, in Menomonie.
UW-Oshkosh opened this season with a 23-17 victory at then-eighth-ranked John Carroll University (Ohio) on Sept. 2. The Titans proceeded to win three straight games by scores of 74-7 over Virginia University of Lynchburg on Sept. 9, 37-20 over UW-Whitewater on Sept. 30, and 49-14 over UW-Stevens Point on Oct. 7.
The Titans have won their four most recent contests by scores of 28-14 at then-ninth-ranked UW-Platteville on Oct. 14, 42-28 at UW-La Crosse on Oct. 21, 31-28 over UW-River Falls on Oct 28 and 42-7 over UW-Eau Claire last Saturday.
UW-Stout shut out Simpson College (Iowa), 17-0, in its season opener on Sept. 2 before upsetting University of St. Thomas (Minn.), 25-22, on Sept. 9. University of St. Thomas (8-1) is currently ranked fourth in the country.
The Blue Devils, who ranked as high as 22nd in the nation this year, suffered a pair of setbacks to open WIAC play, falling by scores of 34-27 to then-12th-ranked UW-Platteville on Sept. 30 and 14-0 to UW-Whitewater on Oct. 7.
UW-Stout rebounded with wins of 21-16 over UW-River Falls on Oct. 14, 23-17 over UW-Stevens Point on Oct. 21 and 55-7 over UW-Eau Claire before losing, 21-7, at UW-La Crosse last Saturday.
Brett Kasper leads UW-Oshkosh's potent offense, completing 107 of 167 passes for 1,835 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. He leads the WIAC in touchdown passes, yards passing per game (229.4), completion percentage (.641) and yards per pass attempt (10.99) while ranking fourth in the nation with a 189.1 passing efficiency rating.
The UW-Oshkosh offensive line of Andrew Grignon, Cody Moon, Derek Polkowski, Tyler Powers, Austin Summers, Ty Summers, Alex Wendorf and Alex Wipperfurth has surrendered just eight sacks this year while leading the way for 15 different Titan ball carriers to average 5.4 yards per carry and rack up 1,959 yards rushing with 22 touchdowns on the ground.
Six Titans have surpassed 100 rushing yards this season, including Dylan Hecker, who has a team-leading 103 carries for 608 yards and nine touchdowns.
Mitch Gerhartz, who paces the conference with 6.9 yards per rush, has added 63 carries for 435 yards and four touchdowns for the Titans, who have also received 260 yards rushing and two touchdowns from JP Peerenboom, 240 yards and three scores from Chad Walton, 185 yards from Dom Todarello, and 115 yards from Riley Kallas.
Sam Mentkowski leads the UW-Oshkosh aerial attack with 37 catches for 880 yards and seven touchdowns. His 23.78 yards per reception is best in the WIAC.
Mentkowski is one of eight Titans to record a touchdown catch this year as Chad Redmer, Kallas and Todarello each have three scores.
The UW-Oshkosh defense has created a WIAC-best 14 turnovers while holding opponents to 3.5 yards per carry.
Jon Kallas leads the Titans with 50 tackles, including 27 solo and two for a loss.
Scott Skornicka has contributed 49 tackles while Derrick Jennings Jr. has made 44 stops and Jamier Szymanski 43. Skornicka has a team-leading three sacks, and Jennings Jr. paces the squad with four interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Todarello spearheads UW-Oshkosh's return game, averaging 26.1 yards on 22 kickoff returns and 16 yards on seven punt returns. Todarello has returned one kickoff and one punt for touchdowns this season.
Turner Geisthardt and Greg Rand have shared placekicking and punting duties for the Titans. Geisthardt has connected on 5 of 7 field goals and 33 of 34 extra points while Rand is 2-for-2 on field goals and 6-for-9 on extra points. Geisthardt is averaging 41.7 yards on his 22 punts, including 12 inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Rand is averaging 22.3 yards on his three punts.
UW-Stout's offense is averaging 21.9 points per game and 3.2 yards per carry. The Blue Devils have ceded 70 tackles for loss, including 25 sacks.
Jay Alston and J.Dan Sturgeon split time at quarterback for the Blue Devils last Saturday against UW-La Crosse. Alston threw for 176 yards while Sturgeon had 107 yards passing with a touchdown.
Alston's season totals include 83-for-173 passing for 1,312 yards with eight touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Sturgeon has completed 18 of 42 passes on the year for 363 yards with four scores and three interceptions.
Rayshawn Graham and Keyshawn Carpenter headline the UW-Stout offensive backfield. Graham has a team-leading 430 yards rushing on 4.7 yards per carry while Carpenter has 237 yards with three of the team's seven ground scores.
A trio of Blue Devils have surpassed 200 yards receiving, including Kevion McDonald, who has a team-high 32 catches for 555 yards and five touchdowns. Thirteen of UW-Stout's pass catchers this season are averaging at least 10 yards per reception.
UW-Stout's Akema Collins has 21 receptions for 416 yards and one touchdown while Brian Sandifer has 20 grabs for 341 yards and four scores.
The Blue Devils' defense is helmed by Luke Wilz and Josh Johnson, who have tallied 55 and 54 tackles, respectively.
Iyen Ogbomoh leads UW-Stout with 8.5 tackles for loss while Isaiah Hardy has a team-high five of the Blue Devils' 27 sacks. Levi Wolf has snared five of the team's eight interceptions.
UW-Stout placekicker Drew Pearson has converted 7 of 13 field goals, including a long of 53 yards, and 18 of 20 extra points.
UW-Stout punter Clark Riedel is averaging 39.2 yards on his 38 punts, including 10 inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
The Blue Devils are averaging 7 yards on 16 punt returns and 17.8 yards on 23 kickoff returns.
UW-Oshkosh advanced to the semifinal round of the 2012 NCAA Championship and to the quarterfinal round in 2015 before reaching the national title game last year.