December 6, 2012

UW-Oshkosh lives in the now

More news about: UW-Oshkosh
Funny and outspoken, Pat Cerroni keeps his UW-Oshkosh Titans loose on the Road to Salem.
UW-Oshkosh athletics photo

By Jason Galleske
D3sports.com

Ben Strehlow clearly remembers the last time his UW-Oshkosh Titans lost a football game. It was 30-24 against nemesis UW-La Crosse on on Oct. 29, 2011, one week after taking then-top-ranked and eventual three-time champion UW-Whitewater to the wire. With the loss, the dreams of the school's first postseason went out the window.

"We've gotten the game taken away in overtime and we know how bad it is," Strehlow, a senior offensive lineman said. "We didn't want to that to happen again, going into another overtime game and knowing how much harder you have to fight."

The fifth-ranked Titans have reeled off 15 straight wins since the disheartening loss, including last week's come-from-behind, 31-24 overtime victory over third-ranked Linfield in McMinnville, Ore. Linfield hadn't lost at home since Oct. 25, 2008, a span of 25 games.

"Knowing you can't take any play off is something you can't do," Strehlow said. "Even through these playoffs it's something that we've shown."

And this time, the first trip to the postseason lasts another week. The Titans (13-0) will take their Division III-leading win streak to St. Paul to play fourth-ranked St. Thomas (13-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.

"We're not going to talk about how good St. Thomas is the last five years," Cerroni said. "We're just going to talk about Saturday."

The Tommies have been impressive over that span, going 56-5, including a their second visit to the semifinals.

"They're going to have plays go in their favor," Strehlow said. "We've  just have to focus on the next play and what we can do to win the next game."

The Titans do not seem to be overmatched, regardless of opponent. Even coaches may take out their notebooks and jot down what they are learning on a weekly basis.

"At this point, they're teaching us," Cerroni said. "At halftime [against Linfield], I was thinking, 'Man, that was a great run.' They weren't done. They really believe. You can have fake belief, (but) they're really teaching us as coaches."

Each time in the playoffs, the Titans have have trailed by double-digit margins. Including a 24-9 deficit to Linfield in the final quarter last week. The Titans were also down 14 points to Bethel in the second round and 10 to St. Scholastica in the postseason opener.  In the regular season, the Titans trailed just three times -- all in the first half.

"Most of the year we've been getting ahead of teams," Strehlow said. "We know in playoffs you never panic, you never worry. You always know that you can win in your head. Even with our conference, there's a lot of great teams battling through. You're seeing the speed of teams. You just know that you can [come back]."

The Titans earned the right to battle in overtime last week when senior Nathan Smith  blocked a 39-yard attempt from one of the nation's best kickers, Josh Kay, with no time left in regulation.

 "I think what I've seen is right now, the difference is we have seniors," Cerroni said. "Who blocks a field goal with 17 seconds to go? The defense doesn't get a lot of credit. We know [Linfield] was good, we didn't know what was going to happen."

It doesn't hurt the Titans to have solid skill position players. Quarterback Nate Wara, running back Cole Myhra and wide receiver Caleb Voss were all named to the D3football.com All-Region First-Team. Wara, a senior has compiled 3,784 yards and 38 touchdowns. Through the air, he has 3,045 yards. Myhra, a junior, has 1,674 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground and Voss, a fellow junior, adds 61 catches for 1,234 yards and 13 touchdowns. The work the trio does is contagious, Strehlow said.

"It's great having players make plays for you when sometimes there isn't something there," said Strehlow, who earned D3football.com second team honors.

Strehlow figured after the Titans picked up the pieces against UW-La Crosse and reeled off two wins to finish last year's season at 7-3 that a chance to make this year a special one was on the horizon. Initially though, the thought wasn't to go this deep in the playoffs.

"We were definitely focused on winning the WIAC first," Strehlow said. "Now that the playoffs are going, winning a national championship."

Winning the WIAC wasn't something that was an easy task as Whitewater won it the past seven years, advancing to the Stagg Bowl each time and winning four of them.

The Titans get to continue to enjoy the ride and are now one game from playing in a national championship. Whomever wins Saturday's game will be making an appearance in the Stagg Bowl for the first time in school history.

"Personally, I'd not rather worry about next step and worry about the next day," Cerroni said. "We're not going to think about what we're doing here until it's all over, it's kind of fun. Lets win one more."

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
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Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
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7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
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7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
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8:00 PM
Belhaven at Millsaps
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6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
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6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
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7:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
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N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
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7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
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7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
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7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
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7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
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7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
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7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
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7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
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12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
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12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
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12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
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12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
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12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
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12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
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12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
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12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
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Alfred State at William Paterson
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1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
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1:00 PM
Kean at Christopher Newport
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1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
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Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
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Plymouth State at Castleton
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1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
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Oberlin at Kalamazoo
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Emory and Henry at Ferrum
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1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
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1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
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1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
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Olivet at St. John Fisher
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Rowan at Widener
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1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
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Union at Ithaca
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Susquehanna at Lycoming
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Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
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TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
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1:30 PM
RPI at Norwich
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1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
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1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
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1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
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Muskingum at Waynesburg
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1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
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2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
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2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
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Millikin at Greenville
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Eureka at Knox
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MacMurray at Rockford
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Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
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UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
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2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
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2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
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2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
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2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
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UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
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2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
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Huntingdon at Louisiana College
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2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
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2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
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2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
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2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
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2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
McPherson at Nebraska Wesleyan
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UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
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4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
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6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
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Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
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Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
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Thomas More at Franklin
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Denison at Marietta
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7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
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Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
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Anderson at North Park
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7:10 PM
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Hanover at Centre
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Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
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7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
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6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
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7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
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Cortland at Heidelberg
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2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
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2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
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2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
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St. Scholastica at St. John's
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2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
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4:00 PM
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4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
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6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
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Wabash at Albion
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7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
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Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
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Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
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St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
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