The UW-Oshkosh football team will seek to continue its regular season home winning streak when the Titans host UW-River Falls on Saturday (Nov. 9). Kickoff for the 64th meeting between the teams is scheduled for 1 p.m. at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
UW-Oshkosh (6-2, 4-1 WIAC) has won 13 games in a row over UW-River Falls and 25 consecutive regular season home contests. The Titans have not lost to the Falcons since a 13-10 overtime setback in 2005. UW-Oshkosh's last regular season home loss was a 24-20 decision against NAIA member Marian University (Ind.) on Sept. 13, 2014.
The Titans remained in contention for their fourth WIAC championship in the past eight years with a thrilling 24-20 victory at UW-Platteville last Saturday (Nov. 2) as Kobe Berghammer tossed the game-winning touchdown pass to Peter MacCudden with 18 seconds remaining.
UW-Oshkosh, which bounced back from its 31-3 loss at UW-La Crosse on Oct. 26, is now alone in second in the conference standings with two games remaining. UW-Whitewater (8-0, 5-0 WIAC), ranked third in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, is atop the league. UW-Oshkosh hosts UW-Whitewater during the league finale Nov. 16.
To set up the winner-take-all title game against the UW-Whitewater, the Titans and their conference-leading defense must first defeat a UW-River Falls team that boasts one of the most prolific passing offenses in the nation.
UW-River Falls (1-7, 0-5 WIAC), which has lost seven straight games since opening the year with a 45-7 rout over University of Minnesota Morris, paces the conference with 444 scrimmage yards and 322.4 passing yards per game. The Falcons have racked up a league-high 184 first downs, but UW-River Falls also ranks 211th among 245 Division III programs with 20 turnovers lost on the year.
UW-Oshkosh enters the matchup with the WIAC's top-rated defense, allowing 272.9 scrimmage yards and 163.8 passing yards per game. The Titans, who have yielded a league-low 121 first downs this season, also rank fifth in the country with four sacks per game while also leading the conference in tackles for loss per contest (8.3), sacks allowed per game (1.25), penalties (38) and penalty yards per contest (36.75).
The Titan defense features 19 players with a tackle for loss, 17 players with more than 10 total tackles on the year, and 14 who have recorded sacks.
Brady Heimer has a WIAC-best seven sacks for the Titans, who have also received 11.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks from Brandon Kolgen, seven tackles for loss from Jandrin, and 5.5 sacks from Trenton LaCombe.
Kollyn Beyer has accounted for two of UW-Oshkosh's six interceptions, one of the unit's three fumble recoveries and a team-leading 12 pass breakups. Kyle Scharenbroch has contributed one interception and one fumble recovery for the Titans.
Berghammer has headlined the UW-Oshkosh offense that averages 23.4 points and 346.1 yards per game, completing 101 of 204 passes for 1,218 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also leads the team with 381 rushing yards and five scores on the ground.
The Titans are averaging 170.6 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry on the year as MacCudden has added 362 yards on the ground and one touchdown while Chris Hess has chipped in 260 yards and a pair of scores on 7.2 yards per carry, and Riley Kallas has 187 rushing yards and one touchdown on 12 attempts. Kallas is also the conference leader at 7.9 yards per punt return.
Nine different Titans have caught touchdown passes this season, including Kallas, who with a team-high three scores through the air to go along with 18 grabs for 250 yards. Mitchell Gerend leads Titan receivers with 26 catches for 359 yards and one touchdown. Justin Kasuboski and MacCudden, who have one touchdown catch apiece, have contributed 15 and 13 receptions, respectively.
UW-Oshkosh kicker and punter Jaydon Haag has converted each of his seven field goals, including a long of 42 yards, and 16 of 19 extra points. Haag is averaging 34.6 yards per punt with 15 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
The UW-River Falls aerial attack is guided by Ben Beckman, who ranks eighth in the country with 24.25 completions per game and ninth in both total passing yards (2,432) and offensive yards per contest (330.4). Beckman has passed for more than 250 yards six times this season, including 493 during a 63-49 shootout loss to UW-La Crosse on Oct. 19. He has gone 196-for-343 passing for 2,429 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the year. Beckman has also rushed 74 times for 212 yards and four touchdowns.
The Falcons are scoring 28 points per contest but rank last in the conference by surrendering 33.9 points per game.
Alex Herink and Alex Traxler have combined for 98 receptions for 1,487 yards and 11 touchdowns for UW-River Falls. Herink, the 2017 WIAC Player of the Year for the Falcons men's basketball team, has hauled in a team-high 50 passes for 778 yards and four scores. Alex Wickliff has chipped with 33 grabs for 382 yards for the Falcons.
UW-River Falls averages 121.5 rushing yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry. Luke Fugate has a team-best 373 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Sam Altena, who has not played in the past four games, has 36 rushing attempts for 158 yards and three scores.
Max Praschak's 100 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery headline the UW-River Falls defense that has notched 10 turnovers. Charlie Sanders leads the Falcons with 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
UW-River Falls paces the conference in net punting at 32.91 yards per kick behind kicker and punter Bobby Patterson, who has connected on 6 of 9 field goals and 26 of 27 extra points while averaging 35.2 yards per punt.
The Falcons own a 34-28-1 record in their series with UW-Oshkosh that began with a 6-0 Titan triumph in 1920. UW-Oshkosh's current 13-game winning streak against UW-River Falls matches the Falcons' 13-game streak from 1992-2003 for the longest in the series.