Nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh looks to remain atop the WIAC football standings when the Titans hosts their homecoming contest against UW-Stevens Point on Saturday (Oct. 7). Kickoff for the 116th meeting in the league's longest rivalry is set for 1:30 p.m. at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
UW-Oshkosh (3-0, 1-0 WIAC), ranked third in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, has won its last six matchups with UW-Stevens Point by a combined 170-95 score. In last year's meeting, the Titans created three turnovers and held on for a 13-3 triumph despite the Pointers holding a 302-284 advantage in total yards.
UW-Stevens Point (3-1, 0-1 WIAC), which owns a 59-48-8 record against the Titans, is seeking its first win over UW-Oshkosh since a 41-17 decision on Oct. 9, 2010.
Defending national runner-up UW-Oshkosh has won 19 of its last 20 home games while UW-Stevens Point has won five of its last seven road contests.
UW-Oshkosh enters Saturday's battle ranked among the top 20 statistical leaders in all phases of the game.
On offense, the Titans rank second nationally in third-down conversion rate (.561) and fewest interceptions thrown (1), ninth in points per game (44.7), 14th in turnovers lost (4), 15th in rushing yards per contest (274.3) and 18th in passing efficiency (173.22).
Defensively, UW-Oshkosh lists third in the country in first downs allowed (39) while the Titan special teams have yielded national rankings of fifth in kickoff return average (28.8) and ninth in punt return average (19.5).
Overall, UW-Oshkosh ranks sixth in the nation in fewest penalty yards per game (30.67), 10th in time of possession per contest (34:39) and 15th in fewest penalties per game (4.33).
UW-Oshkosh also leads the WIAC by averaging 477.3 yards of total offense per game, converting 86.7 percent (13 of 15) of its red-zone opportunities and connecting on 83.3 percent (5 of 6) of its field goals.
The Titans, who have not trailed this season, opened the year with a 23-17 victory at then-eighth-ranked John Carroll University on Sept. 2 and downed Virginia University of Lynchburg, 74-7, in Oshkosh on Oct. 9. Following two idle weeks, UW-Oshkosh knocked off reigning WIAC champion UW-Whitewater, 37-20, in the league opener last Saturday (Oct. 30).
UW-Stevens Point began the season by averaging 36 points in three straight wins. The Pointers slipped past St. Norbert College, 34-33, in double overtime during the season opener in Stevens Point. UW-Stevens Point then compiled wins of 33-19 at Albion College (Mich.) and 41-28 at home over Adrian College (Mich.). Last Saturday, UW-Stevens Point suffered a 35-13 home loss to UW-La Crosse in the WIAC opener.
Kasper, whose 174.8 passing efficiency rating ranks 17th in the country, has completed 42 of 62 passes for 578 yards on the year with six touchdowns and one interception. Kasper threw for 339 yards and three scores during the Titans' win over UW-Whitewater last Saturday. He lists sixth among active Division III players with 7,339 career passing yards.
Hecker paces the Titans with 64 carries for 407 yards and four touchdowns while adding six receptions for 54 yards. In last Saturday's victory, Hecker logged a career-high 32 rushes for 190 yards and one score while adding a career-best five catches for 48 yards. Hecker's 11-yard touchdown run against UW-Whitewater extended his school records to 300 points scored and 49 career rushing scores, which lists fourth among active Division III players. He became just the 10th WIAC player to reach 300 career points.
Mentkowski has a team-leading 15 receptions for 287 yards and three touchdowns. Last Saturday, he matched his career high with 10 catches for 207 yards and two scores, including a school-record 96-yard strike from Kasper that opened the scoring and a 53-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that increased the Titan lead to 30-20.
The UW-Oshkosh starting offensive line of Tyler Powers, Austin Summers, Ty Summers, Alex Wendorf and Alex Wipperfurth has allowed just two sacks on the year while paving the way for Titan runners to average 5.5 yards per carry.
Todarello also ranks third nationally by averaging 22 yards on five punt returns while leading the team with a 21.3-yard average on nine kickoff returns. Todarello, who has one punt return for a touchdown this year and two in his career, currently lists third among active Division III players by averaging 16 yards per punt return.
Turner Geisthardt has handled a majority of the placekicking and punting duties for the Titans this season, averaging 42 yards on seven punts and connecting on 4 of 5 field goals and each of his 11 extra point tries. Geisthardt drilled three field goals during last Saturday's win after entering the contest with just one made field in his career. Geisthardt, who has placed five punts inside the opponent 20-yard line this year, ranks fifth among active Division III players by averaging 39.5 yards per punt in his career.
The UW-Oshkosh defense has created eight turnovers this season and limited opponents to 3.4 yards per carry.
Jon Kallas leads the Titans with 21 tackles while Derrick Jennings Jr. has added 18 stops, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Rajon Hall, Taylor Ripplinger and Cole Yoder have each registered interceptions for UW-Oshkosh, which has also received 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery from Trenton LaCombe, and 1.5 sacks from Jamier Szymanski.
UW-Stevens Point will once again be without the services of quarterback Ryan Swigart, who suffered a leg injury and missed last week's contest against UW-La Crosse. Swigart still leads the nation with a .721 completion percentage while ranking second in passing efficiency (199.6) and fifth with 11.03 yards per pass attempt.
The Pointers turned to backup quarterback Matt Urmanski, who has connected on 17 of 41 passes this season for 196 yards with four touchdowns while adding six carries for 50 yards and one score. Making his first start of the year last Saturday, Urmanski went 1-for-11 passing for three yards before being replaced by Cooper Kerner after halftime.
UW-Stevens Point is averaging 276.2 passing yards and 167 rushing yards per game.
Zach Bosek leads a trio of UW-Stevens Point 100-yard with 55 carries for 284 yards and one of the team's two rushing touchdowns. Evan Dux has added 31 rushes for 134 yards, and Shamaj Williams has 17 totes for 121 yards.
The Pointer receiving corps is led by Jerry Williams and Steve Herra. Jerry Williams, who also leads the squad by averaging 20.6 yards per kickoff return, has recorded 22 catches for 455 yards while ranking 16th in the country with six scores through the air. Herra has 21 grabs for 347 yards and four touchdowns.
UW-Stevens Point's defense has tallied six sacks, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
Tanner Beaman has a team-leading 23 tackles for the Pointers, who have also received 15.5 tackles from Griffen Davis, 15.5 tackles and one fumble recovery from Juleyan Givens, and 15 tackles and one interception from Blake Lehman. Logan Strang has a team-high two sacks among his 6.5 tackles.
UW-Stevens Point punter Alex Malueg averages 36.4 yards on his 18 punts and has placed nine kicks inside the opponents' 20-yard line. The Pointers have not attempted a field goal this year, but Hayden Neidert has converted 11 of his 13 extra point attempts.
UW-Oshkosh has won its last five homecoming contests, including a 22-13 victory over UW-Platteville a year ago and a 21-10 win over UW-Stevens Point in 2015.