The nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh football team travels to face an NCAA Division II opponent for the second straight week when the Titans take on first-time opponent Lincoln University of Missouri on Saturday (Sept. 15). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Dwight T. Reed Stadium in Jefferson City, Mo.
UW-Oshkosh (1-1), which lost a hard-fought 7-3 decision at Division II Davenport University (Mich.) last Saturday (Sept. 8), is seeking its first win over an upper-division foe since a 33-21 victory over Division II Upper Iowa University in 2004.
Last week UW-Oshkosh held Davenport University to -2 yards of offense during the final quarter, but the Titans' final four drives of the game culminated in three turnovers on downs and a game-ending interception as their bid for a victory fell short. UW-Oshkosh opened the season with a 20-9 victory at Carthage College on Sept. 1.
Lincoln University (1-1) is coming off a 52-24 loss at NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision member Missouri State University on Sept. 6. The Tigers jumped out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead over Missouri State University before the Bears roared back with 35 unanswered points. Lincoln University won its season opener, 10-7, at Division II Lane College (Tenn.) on Sept. 1.
UW-Oshkosh, ranked 15th in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, is playing its sixth upper-division opponent since 2003. The Titans defeated Upper Iowa University in both 2003 and 2004 by a combined 71-24 score but have since fallen by scores of 7-3 to Davenport University last Saturday, 41-3 to Division I Football Bowl Subdivision member South Dakota State University in 2014 and 33-22 to Division II Minnesota State University Mankato in 2006.
The defending WIAC champion Titans have advanced to at least the quarterfinal round of the Division III Championship each of the last three years and four times overall since 2012. UW-Oshkosh, winners of three of the last six WIAC titles, reached the national semifinals a year ago after playing in the Division III title game in 2016, the quarterfinal round in 2015 and the semifinals in 2012.
Lincoln University, a member of the eight-team Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) since 2014, has compiled a 7-38 overall record since joining the league. The Tigers, in search of their first winning record since 1972, sport a 1-30 mark in GLVC play over the past four years, with its lone victory coming during the second league game in 2014.
Saturday's matchup features a UW-Oshkosh defense that has allowed just 16 points this season and ranks third in Division III with six interceptions gained against a Lincoln University offense that is 161st among 167 Division II teams by allowing 5.5 sacks per game and lists 151st in both total (243) and rushing (69.5) yards per contest.
Both teams enter the contest seeking to improve on their third-down conversion rates. UW-Oshkosh is 233rd of 236 Division III programs by converting 11.5 percent of its third-down opportunities, while Lincoln University has mustered a 28.6 percent rate to rank 129th in its division.
The UW-Oshkosh defense is led by senior defensive back Cole Yoder, and senior linebackers Derrick Jennings Jr. and Scott Skornicka. Yoder paces the team with 16 tackles, including a career high-tying 10 last weekend against Davenport University, while Jennings Jr. has three of the squad's interceptions and a team-leading 3.5 tackles for loss. Skornicka is second on the Titans with 13 tackles, including a team-best nine solo.
The Titans offense is averaging 11.5 points and 166.5 yards, including 103.5 rushing, per game.
Three UW-Oshkosh quarterbacks have combined to complete 20 of 48 passes for 126 yards with a pair of interceptions. Sophomore Kyle Radavich leads the trio by going 14 of 29 passing for 96 yards.
UW-Oshkosh's offensive line of seniors Cody Moon, Tyler Powers, Austin Summers, Alex Wendorf and Jason Wright, junior Alex Wipperfurth and sophomore Joe Blitstein have helped nine Titan ballcarriers average 2.8 yards per rush and score a pair of touchdowns.
Todarello is the top UW-Oshkosh receiver with five catches for 57 yards. Moon and junior Riley Kallas have both caught four passes for a combined 25 yards. Todarello also leads the team by averaging 28.2 yards per kickoff and 13.5 yards per punt return.
Titans junior placekicker Peyton Peterson has connected on 1 of 2 field goals and both of his extra points. UW-Oshkosh senior punter Turner Geisthardt is averaging 41.4 yards on his 14 punts, including a long of 58 yards and five inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
Lincoln University's offense averages 17 points per game and 1.8 yards per carry behind a massive starting offensive line that includes 6-foot-7-inch, 390-pound sophomore tackle Jacobi Cratic; 6-foot-3-inch, 399-pound junior guard Jamal Brown; 6-foot-6-inch, 352-pound freshman tackle Dakota Cox; and 6-foot-2-inch, 334-pound sophomore guard Jordan McCoy.
Tigers sophomore quarterback Henry Ogala has completed 28 of 44 passes for 347 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. However, freshman Drake Davidson, who has not attempted a pass this season, is listed atop the Tigers' quarterback depth chart this week.
Ogala's favorite target is senior Blake Tibbs, an All-GLVC second team selection a year ago, who has a team-leading 10 receptions for 149 yards on this season. Sophomore A'Jani Johnson has added six catches for 79 yards while sophomores Antonio Isaac and Justin Korakakos and freshman Hosea Franklin have each caught touchdown passes.
Franklin is the Tigers' leading rusher with 24 carries for 91 yards. Junior Terry Hunter has chipped in 22 rushes for 59 yards.
On the defensive side, junior linebacker Amani Nelson paces Lincoln University with 12 tackles to go along with one of the team's three fumble recoveries.
Senior defensive end Isaiah Gray is second on the squad with nine tackles, followed by junior cornerback Chavon Gross and senior linebacker Victor Williams with eight apiece.
Tigers junior linebacker Edwin Durassaint owns five tackles and has tallied a pair of turnovers via a fumble recovery and an interception. Sophomore defensive end Quan Mason has registered two of Lincoln University's four sacks.
On special teams, the Tigers are averaging 18 yards per kickoff return and 10.4 yards on punt returns. Lincoln University freshman placekicker Fernando Ramirez is 2 of 4 of field goals, including a long of 44 yards, and 4-for-4 on extra points. Tigers senior punter Wolky Belancourt is averaging 31.4 yards on his nine punts, including a long of 49 yards.
Lincoln University is playing its second WIAC opponent in its 88-year history. The Tigers defeated UW-La Crosse, 3-0, in 1975. UW-Oshkosh is facing its second opponent from Missouri in the 124-year history of its program. The Titans recorded a 49-13 win over Washington University in St. Louis during the first round of the 2016 Division III Championship in Oshkosh.