Reigning WIAC champion UW-Oshkosh travels to UW-Whitewater for a battle of nationally ranked football teams Saturday (Oct. 6). Kickoff for the 111th meeting between the teams is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater.
UW-Oshkosh (3-1, 1-0 WIAC), ranked 10th in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, is seeking its fourth win over UW-Whitewater in the past eight meetings. The Titans defeated UW-Whitewater, 37-20, during last year's WIAC opener in Oshkosh.
Eighth-ranked UW-Whitewater (3-0, 1-0 WIAC) has won 38 of its last 39 home games. The Warhawks have not lost a home WIAC contest since a 28-13 setback to UW-Oshkosh on Oct. 20, 2012.
UW-Whitewater holds a 76-29-5 record against UW-Oshkosh in a series that began in 1897. Saturday's matchup is the seventh over the past eight years in which both teams were ranked in the national top 20. The last meeting between the programs in Whitewater, a 17-14 Warhawk win, was played in front of a then-Division III-record crowd of 17,535.
UW-Oshkosh is attempting to win consecutive games over the Warhawks for the first time since victories in 1972 and 1973. The Titans sport a 2-18-1 record in Whitewater since 1973. UW-Oshkosh claimed wins at UW-Whitewater in 1987 and 2012, and forged a tie in 1989.
Five of the last eight meetings between the Titans and Warhawks were decided by three or fewer points, including UW-Oshkosh's 10-7 triumph during the 2015 regular season and UW-Whitewater's wins of 31-29 during the quarterfinal round of the 2015 NCAA postseason and 17-14 in both 2013 and 2016.
The Titans have won 41 of their past 45 WIAC contests and 35 of their last 42 road games. The Warhawks, last year's WIAC runners-up, boast a 34-2 league record since 2013. UW-Oshkosh has been responsible for both of UW-Whitewater's WIAC losses over the past six seasons.
UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater have combined to secure at least a share of each of the last 13 WIAC titles. The Warhawks have clinched 10 league championships since 2005 (2005-11, 2013-14, 2016) while the Titans have won three (2012, 2015, 2017) over the past six years.
The six-time national champion Warhawks have advanced to at least the quarterfinal round of the Division III Championship on 11 occasions since 2005, while the Titans have reached the third level of the national tournament four times since 2012. UW-Oshkosh played in the 2016 Division III championship game, advanced to the semifinals in 2012 and 2017, and reached the quarterfinals in 2015.
UW-Oshkosh opened the 2018 season with a 20-9 win at Carthage College on Sept. 1. The Titans then split a pair of games at NCAA Division II opponents, falling by a 7-3 score against Davenport University (Mich.) on Sept. 8 and defeating Lincoln University of Missouri, 17-7, on Sept. 15, before beginning WIAC play with a 48-14 victory at UW-River Falls last Saturday (Sept. 29).
UW-Whitewater has secured three comfortable wins over Division III opponents this season, defeating University of Dubuque (Iowa), 38-6, on Sept. 1, Concordia College (Minn.), 24-6, on Sept. 8 and UW-La Crosse, 30-7, last Saturday. The Warhawks also throttled Middle Georgia State University, 73-0, on Sept. 15 in a contest not recognized by the NCAA.
UW-Oshkosh is averaging 22 points and 287.3 yards per game while surrendering 9.3 points and 293.5 yards per contest. UW-Whitewater averages 30.7 points and 394.7 yards per game, and allows 6.3 points and 182.7 yards per contest.
The Titans visit UW-Whitewater leading the WIAC in turnovers gained (13), interceptions gained (12), passing efficiency rating defense (80.78), red zone defense (.500), average turnover margin (1.50) and net punting average (37.08). UW-Oshkosh is the national leader in interceptions while listing seventh in the country in passing efficiency rating defense.
The Warhawks are atop the league in points and yards allowed per game, completion percentage (.595), yards per completion (15.4), passing efficiency rating (153.94), turnovers lost (4), red zone offense (1.000), passing yards allowed per game (106.7), first downs allowed (38), third down conversion rate (.500), third down conversion rate defense (.283) and average kickoff return (24.0). UW-Whitewater leads the country in red zone offense while ranking fourth in yards allowed per game, fifth in scoring defense and sixth in passing yards allowed per contest.
UW-Oshkosh's offense is led by sophomore quarterback Kyle Radavich, who has competed 43 of 73 passes for 552 yards with six touchdowns and one interception. He threw for a career-high 300 yards and five touchdowns last Saturday against UW-River Falls.
Junior wide receiver Riley Kallas has a team-high 14 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns for the Titans, who have also received 12 grabs for 173 yards and a pair of scores from senior wideout Dom Todarello, and six receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns from sophomore wide receiver Mitchell Gerend.
The UW-Oshkosh starting offensive line of first team All-American senior center Tyler Powers, senior guards Alex Wendorf and Jason Wright, senior tackle Austin Summers, junior tackle Alex Wipperfurth and sophomore tight end Tommy Noennig have paved the way for the Titans to average 141.8 rushing yards per game, score four touchdowns on the ground and allow just six sacks. Wendorf was named All-West Region last year.
Junior running back Mitch Gerhartz has 69 carries for 275 yards and one touchdown on the year while Todarello has added 24 rushes for 132 yards. Radavich, senior tight end Moon and sophomore running back Max Nowinsky have accounted for the other three UW-Oshkosh rushing scores. Todarello, a 2017 All-American as a return specialist, also headlines the Titans' return efforts, averaging 24.9 yards per kickoff return and 10 yards per punt return on the year.
The UW-Oshkosh defense features senior linebacker Derrick Jennings Jr. and senior defensive back Cole Yoder. Jennings Jr., a 2017 First Team All-American, has 19 tackles on the year, including a team-leading six for loss and 2.5 sacks, to go along with three interceptions and a division-best three blocked kicks. Yoder, an All-West Region selection a year ago, paced the squad this season with 29 tackles and four interceptions. Yoder's one interception per game is third best in Division III.
UW-Oshkosh junior defensive back Calvin Shilling and freshman linebacker Tory Jandrin have added 20 tackles apiece while sophomore linebacker Justin Kasuboski has chipped in 17 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Seven different Titans have recorded interceptions this year, including Shilling, sophomore linebacker Nick Noethe, senior defensive back AJ Plewa, freshman linebacker Tyler Staerkel and freshman defensive back Connor Zirpel. Plewa is the team leader with five pass breakups.
UW-Oshkosh senior All-West Region punter Turner Geisthardt ranks 13th nationally by averaging 41.1 yards per punt this season. He has placed 13 of his 26 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
Junior placekicker Peyton Peterson has connected on 4 of 5 field goals and each of his 10 extra points.
The UW-Whitewater offense is helmed by senior Cole Wilber, who is 47-for-79 passing for 700 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Warhawks offensive backfield also features sophomore running back Alex Peete and freshman running back Ryan Ponick. Peete has 69 rushes for 281 yards and a WIAC co-leading six touchdowns while Ponick has contributed 21 totes for 86 yards and one of UW-Whitewater's 11 rushing scores.
UW-Whitewater sophomore wide receiver Ryan Wisniewski has a team-leading 10 catches for 215 yards with one touchdown. The balanced Warhawks receiving corps also includes senior Mitchell Dress with eight receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown, sophomore JT Parrish with seven grabs for 172 yards and a pair of scores, and junior Nathaniel Osterloo with four receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown.
The Warhawks defense is highlighted by senior All-American lineman Harry Henschler and fellow 2017 All-WIAC first team selections in senior linebacker Bryce Leszczynski and senior defensive back Famus Hasty.
Henschler has 11 tackles, including a team-high five for loss and 1.5 sacks, while Leszczynski has recorded 20 tackles and one sack. Both Henschler and Leszczynski have also forced one fumble. Hasty has eight tackles and a pair of pass breakups.
Junior linebacker Jacob Erbs leads UW-Whitewater with 21 tackles on the year. Junior defensive back Garrett Purdy has provided 15 tackles and a team-best four pass breakups for the Warhawks.
On special teams, UW-Whitewater sophomore placekicker Wojciech Gasienica has converted each of his three field goal attempts and 11 of his 12 extra point tries. Junior punter Andy Cooper is averaging 39.3 yards on his 15 punts, which include three inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Junior wide receiver Josh Ringelberg, who has six catches for 35 yards, handles the majority of the Warhawks' kick returns, averaging 17 yards on kickoffs and 12.5 yards on punts.
The team that has scored first has won 12 of the last 14 matchups between the Titans and Warhawks. The only outliers since 2005 were UW-Whitewater comeback wins in 2011 and 2016. After facing an early 7-0 deficit in the 2011 meeting, the Warhawks later broke a 17-17 tie on a field goal with 78 seconds to play for a 20-17 win. UW-Whitewater also erased deficits of 7-0 and 14-10 in 2016 to claim a 17-14 victory with a touchdown during the final minute.