October 26, 2011

15th-Ranked Titans Prepare For Primetime Matchup With Eagles

UW-Oshkosh can post consecutive victories over UW-La Crosse for the first time since 1968 when the two football teams collide on Saturday (Oct. 29) at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium. Kickoff for the 64th all-time meeting is set for 6 p.m.

The Titans (5-2/3-1 WIAC), ranked 15th in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, defeated the Eagles last season, 28-17. UW-Oshkosh took that contest thanks to the defense's shutout performance over the final 35 minutes. This season, UW-Oshkosh ranks third in the WIAC in both scoring defense (17.9) and red zone defense (18-24, 75 percent) and fourth in total defense (325 yards). Free safety Jack Breese (Sr. • Kewaskum) has 53 tackles and linebacker Taylor Goodman (Jr. • South Wayne) 51 to lead the unit.

UW-La Crosse (2-5/1-3 WIAC) is coming off last Saturday's (Oct. 22) 10-0 loss at UW-Stout. The Eagles started the season 0-3 before notching victories over UW-Stevens Point (31-28) and Jamestown College (N.D.) (42-6). In the second game of the year, UW-La Crosse nearly upset fourth-ranked University of Mary-Hardin Baylor (Texas), falling by a 27-20 score.

The UW-La Crosse offense features running back Ben Hertrampf and his 6.7 yards-per-carry average. Hertrampf ranks fifth in the WIAC with 438 rushing yards. Mike Butterfield takes the snaps for the Eagles and has completed 74-of-137 passes for 982 yards and six touchdowns. UW-La Crosse lines up three players with 220-plus receiving yards, paced by the 351 of Tony Bilderback.

On the defensive side, strong safety Matthew Buswell (66 tackles) and linebacker Jack Leahy (65) rank second and third in the conference in tackles. Derek Dreher has had a strong season at cornerback, with his 11 pass breakups leading the WIAC. UW-La Crosse also owns the league's top punter in Christian Hallingstad (42.4 yards per punt) and punt returner in Jake Welch (9.5 yards per return).

The Titans, winners in four of their last five games, own the highest national ranking in school history. UW-Oshkosh has victories of 31-28 over Central College (Iowa), 56-10 over UW-Stout, 42-7 over UW-River Falls, 23-16 over UW-Eau Claire and 24-3 over UW-Platteville. The team's two defeats came to top-ranked UW-Whitewater (20-17) and second-ranked University of Mount Union (Ohio) (41-17).

UW-Oshkosh has kept it on the ground for 64 percent of its offensive plays. That strategy has helped the Titans average 210 rushing yards per game. Last Saturday, UW-Oshkosh gained 214 yards against a UW-Whitewater squad that had been allowing just 67 yards per contest. Quarterback Nate Wara (Jr. • Oshkosh) tops the Titans with 511 rushing yards, while running backs Cole Myhra (So. • Menomonee Falls) and Justin Budiac (Sr. • Mukwonago) both average seven yards per carry.

Through the air, Wara has completed 92-of-157 passes for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns. Wide receivers Garrie Fox (Sr. • Madison) and Caleb Voss (So. • Van Dyne) have combined to catch 49 passes for 855 yards and seven scores.

UW-La Crosse holds a 48-9-6 lead in the series between these two teams, with the first meeting coming in 1919.