The UW-Oshkosh football team plays the last of its seven regular season road games when it travels to UW-Eau Claire on Saturday (Nov. 3). Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Carson Park in Eau Claire.
UW-Oshkosh (5-3, 3-2 WIAC) is second in the league standings with two games remaining while UW-Eau Claire (3-5, 1-4) is seeking to win more than one conference game for the first time since securing two WIAC victories in 2013.
UW-Eau Claire, which owns a 41-28 record against the Titans, has lost the last seven games in the series that began in 1937. UW-Oshkosh has outscored the Blugolds by a combined 295-76 score during the past seven meetings, including 42-7 last season in Oshkosh. UW-Eau Claire's last win over the Titans was a 20-14 decision on Oct. 30, 2010, in Eau Claire.
Saturday's matchup pits a UW-Oshkosh team that leads the WIAC in average turnover margin (1.00), interceptions gained (17), red zone defense (.565) and third down defense (.320) against a UW-Eau Claire squad that paces the league in fumble recoveries (10), sacks per game (3.75), tackles for loss per contest (7.4), red zone offense (.900) and time of possession per game (32:27). The Titans' interception total ranks third in the NCAA Division III.
UW-Oshkosh opened the season with five consecutive road games, claiming wins of 20-9 over Carthage College in the opener on Sept. 1, 17-7 over Lincoln University of Missouri on Sept. 15 and 48-14 over UW-River Falls on Sept. 29. UW-Oshkosh's win against NCAA Division II's Lincoln University of Missouri was the program's first against an upper-division opponent since 2004.
The Titans won both of their home games, defeating UW-Platteville by a 31-10 score on Oct. 13 and UW-La Crosse, 24-13, on Oct. 20. UW-Oshkosh also suffered road losses by scores of 7-3 at NCAA Division II member Davenport University (Mich.) on Sept. 8, 20-0 at eighth-ranked UW-Whitewater on Oct. 6, and 27-21 at UW-Stevens Point last Saturday (Oct. 27).
UW-Eau Claire began the year with victories of 45-13 at Loras College (Iowa) on Sept. 1 and 30-23 in overtime at home against St. Norbert College. The Blugolds then lost four straight games by a combined 129-23 score, including a 49-0 setback at third-ranked University of St. Thomas (Minn.) on Sept. 22 and a 45-0 home loss to fifth-ranked UW-Whitewater.
The Blugolds picked up their first league win of the year with a 40-16 decision at UW-Platteville on Oct. 20 before suffering a 42-24 loss at UW-River Falls last Saturday.
UW-Oshkosh is averaging 20.4 points and 299.1 yards per game while giving up 11.4 points and 305.7 yards per contest. UW-Eau Claire averages 20.3 points and 304.9 yards per game, and surrenders 27.9 points and 373.6 yards per contest.
The UW-Oshkosh offense is led by sophomore quarterback Kyle Radavich, who has completed 123 of 206 passes for 1,416 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. His .597 completion percentage leads the conference.
Juniors Mitch Gerhartz and JP Peerenboom highlight a Titan rushing attack that averages 131 yards on the ground and has tallied seven touchdowns behind an offensive line that includes seniors Cody Moon, Tyler Powers, Austin Summers, Alex Wendorf and Jason Wright; junior Alex Wipperfurth; and sophomore Joe Blitstein.
Gerhartz has recorded a team-high 127 carries for 488 yards and three touchdowns. Peerenboom has added 46 rushes for 158 yards while senior Dom Todarello has contributed 41 totes for 236 yards and one touchdown.
The UW-Oshkosh receiving corps features three players with at least 29 catches, including junior Riley Kallas with a team-leading 39 grabs for 459 yards and four touchdowns. Todarello and sophomore Mitchell Gerend both have 29 receptions on the year for a combined 742 yards and seven scores.
Todarello has accounted for 402 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Gerend has 340 receiving yards and four scores. Todarello also spearheads the Titans' return game, averaging 25.9 yards on 11 kickoff returns and 11.6 yards on 12 punt returns.
UW-Oshkosh's defense includes five players with at least 31 tackles, including seniors Cole Yoder and Derrick Jennings Jr. with 52 and 49, respectively. Jennings Jr. and Yoder share the team lead with four interceptions while Jennings Jr. also paces the unit with 12.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a WIAC-best three blocked kicks.
Senior Scott Skornicka has added 43 tackles, including seven for loss, and sophomore Logan Heise has contributed 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Senior AJ Plewa has chipped in 31 tackles and a team-high seven pass breakups for UW-Oshkosh.
On special teams, UW-Oshkosh junior Peyton Peterson has converted 6 of 10 field goals, including a long of 39 yards, and each of his 20 extra points. Senior Turner Geisthardt has averaged 38.8 yards on his 49 punts, which have included a long of 58 yards and 17 inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
UW-Eau Claire senior Scott Procter has completed 99 of 196 passes for 1,113 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. A dual threat, Procter has added 99 carries for 304 yards and five scores.
Procter's top target has been senior Leeshaun Evans, who has hauled in 29 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns. No other Blugold receiver has more than 16 catches, but sophomore Brycen Froehlich has turned his 10 receptions into 179 yards.
The Blugold ground game is led by senior Brian Kulaga's 148 carries for 641 yards and five touchdowns. UW-Eau Claire enters Saturday averaging 160.4 rushing yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry.
Junior Sam Romanski leads the UW-Eau Claire defense with 50 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. His 2.0 tackles for loss per game pace the WIAC while his 1.5 sacks per contest rank fourth in the country.
Sophomores Alex Marshak and Sam Burzynski have chipped in 43 and 42 tackles, respectively, for the Blugolds while senior Charlie Brookshaw has 5.5 sacks among his 27 tackles this year.
UW-Eau Claire junior Samuel Buchberger leads the conference with two fumble recoveries. Sophomore Carmelo Rosado has a team-high three interceptions.
The Blugolds are averaging just 15.6 yards per kickoff return and 3.1 yards per punt return.
Sophomore Brad Goetsch handles the placekicking and punting duties for the Blugolds, connecting on 6 of 8 field goals, including a long of 35 yards, and 18 of 21 extra points. Goetsch, whose .750 field goal percentage leads the WIAC, has averaged 35.3 yards on his 51 punts, including a long of 48 yards and 15 inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
UW-Oshkosh has not trailed UW-Eau Claire during the last six meetings. The Blugolds' last lead in the series was 16-9 advantage heading into the fourth quarter on Oct. 8, 2011, in Eau Claire.
Pat Cerroni is in his 12th season as UW-Oshkosh's head coach. He has guided the Titans to a 94-38 record, including a 57-25 mark in WIAC contests. Dan Larson has led UW-Eau Claire to a 6-22 record (2-17 WIAC) during his three seasons as head coach of the Blugolds.