UW-Oshkosh and Central College (Iowa) kick off the football season for the third consecutive year on Saturday (Sept. 1). Game time is set for 1 p.m at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
These teams met in the opener each of the past two years, with both contests going down to the wire. Last season, the Titans scored on their first offensive play and added an 84-yard touchdown minutes later to highlight a 31-28 victory. Central College earned a 34-28 win in 2010 thanks to nine straight third-down conversions in the second half.
Central College owns a 25-6 record since 2009, including a 7-3 mark last year. The Dutch bring back seven starters from the 2011 squad that finished second in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC). This year, Central College is picked to finish fourth in the league.
Last season, Central College's offense averaged 36 points and 245 rushing yards per game. There will be a new quarterback, but tailback Ross Doehrmann returns after posting 570 yards and five touchdowns. The Dutch also have a big receiver in Ben Lechtenberg, who tallied 550 yards on 28 catches.
On defense, Central College led the IIAC with 33 quarterback sacks in 2011. Defensive lineman Danny Samson counted five of those. The Dutch also expect linebacker Seth Carson (61 tackles last year) to lead the unit.
UW-Oshkosh is expected to have another potent offense after averaging 31 points per game last year. Quarterback Nate Wara (Sr. • Oshkosh), who received preseason All-America second-team honors by D3football.com, racked up 1,838 passing yards, 605 rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns in 2011. Cole Myhra (Jr. • Menomonee Falls) takes over at running back, where he averaged 6.2 yards per carry last season. Caleb Voss (Jr. • Van Dyne) is the top returning receiver after totaling 597 yards and four touchdowns a year ago.
The UW-Oshkosh defense held three opponents to single-digit points last season. Linebacker Taylor Goodman (Sr. • South Wayne) and defensive end Andrew Thompson (Sr. • Greendale) are back to anchor the unit. Goodman posted a team-high 80 tackles, while Thompson led the WIAC in 2011 with seven quarterback sacks.
UW-Oshkosh posted a 7-3 record last year and placed second in the WIAC standings. A total of 35 lettermen return, including 11 starters. UW-Oshkosh also welcomes back defensive lineman Alex Smith (So. • Oakfield) and defensive back Frank Martin (Sr. • Greenleaf), lettermen who missed the 2011 campaign with injuries.
The Titans are aiming for consecutive seven-win seasons for the first time in their 118-year history. UW-Oshkosh, which is projected to finish second in the WIAC standings, also owns a 28-3 record in its last 31 season openers.