UW-Oshkosh takes a 12-game winning streak into its first postseason appearance as it hosts The College of St. Scholastics (Minn.) in a first-round contest of the NCAA Division III Football Championship on Saturday (Nov. 17). Kickoff is set for noon from J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
UW-Oshkosh (10-0) had just three of its victories decided by less than 15 points. The perfect WIAC slate featured wins over defending national champion UW-Whitewater (28-13) and 14th-ranked UW-Platteville (34-13). The Titans scored at least 41 points in five games, including a 70-9 triumph at Alma College (Mich.).
WIAC Player of the Year Nate Wara (Sr. • Oshkosh) directs the offense with 2,389 yards through the air and another 561 on the ground. Wara has 22 passing touchdowns and one interception while running for seven scores. Cole Myhra (Jr. • Menomonee Falls) averaged 6.5 yards per carry on his way to a 1,086-yard, 10-touchdown season. With seven touchdowns in the last five games, Caleb Voss (Jr. • Van Dyne) owns 908 yards on 44 receptions this year.
The Titans rank eighth in the country in turnover margin (+16) and 12th in total offense (495.2 yards per game). UW-Oshkosh has 32 sacks on the year, with 5.5 apiece from Taylor Goodman (Sr. • South Wayne) and Andrew Thompson (Sr. • Greendale). Cornerback Tim Filter (Sr. • New Berlin) topped the WIAC with seven interceptions.
UW-Oshkosh already set the program record for victories. The conference title was the school's first since 1976.
The Saints (8-2) finished in a three-way tie for the Upper Midwest Conference title after going 7-1. The league's automatic playoff bid was decided when the commissioner drew St. Scholastica's name from a box. This will be the second postseason appearance for the Saints, who began their football program in 2008.
After dropping its first game of the year, St. Scholastica posted four straight victories by 14-plus points. That streak included a 45-3 decision over UMC tri-champion Greenville College (Ill.). The Saints' other defeat this season was a 14-13 contest against Northwestern College (Minn.), which was the other UMC team to finish 7-1. St. Scholastica ended the season with a 20-17 overtime win at Presentation College (S.D.) and a 28-21 triumph at the University of Minn.-Morris.
Ranking eighth in the NCAA Division III, St. Scholastica's defense allows 12.5 points per game. The Saints list 10th nationally with 258.5 yards allowed per contest, while topping the UMAC with 23 sacks. St. Scholastica booked impressive scoring margins in the first (86-20) and fourth (84-20) quarters this year.
The Saint offense has multiple rushing threats. Jake Jensen tops the team with 569 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to 520 yards and a 6.0 average from Thomas Fragale. Quarterback Tyler Harper owns 1,540 passing yards, 276 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns. His top target has been Nick Thiry, who caught 44 passes for 562 yards and seven scores.
St. Scholastica led the UMAC in returning punts and kickoffs. Cory Gebhard averages 35.4 yards on kick returns and 10.1 yards on punts. The final unit features UMAC Defensive Player of the Year Zack Dubanoski (4.5 sacks), Alec French (80 tackles) and Blake Cedarleaf (14.5 tackles for loss).
Last season, St. Scholastica fell to the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) in the opening round of the playoffs, 48-2. The Saints finished 10-1, while the Tommies advanced to the national semifinal.
Tickets will be available starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday from J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium. Prices are $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and $4 for students. Children ages 5 and under are free.