UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater fight for first place in the WIAC on Saturday (Oct. 20) in Whitewater. The defending national champion Warhawks (5-1/3-0 WIAC) rank fifth in the D3football.com poll, while the Titans (6-0/3-0 WIAC) are 10th.
UW-Whitewater has won four straight games against WIAC teams since dropping a 7-6 contest to Buffalo State (N.Y.) on Sept. 15. The past two weeks, the Warhawks notched victories of 35-0 over UW-River falls and 41-7 at UW-Stout.
This game pits the nation's top run defense against one of the country's best rushing offenses. UW-Whitewater leads the NCAA Division III by allowing just 29 yards per game. Meanwhile, UW-Oshkosh ranks ninth with 296 rushing yards per game. The Warhawks are also among the top-three nationally in total defense (212 yards), scoring defense (7.8 points) and turnover margin (+13).
Running back Desmin Ward paces the UW-Whitewater offense. Ward has 626 rushing yards and five touchdowns to rank second in the WIAC. The passing game goes through Lee Brekke, who owns 882 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Steve Morris is the team's top receiver with 23 catches and 247 yards.
The Warhawk defense intercepted 18 passes this year, while giving up three touchdowns through the air. Ryan Wenkman owns four picks, in addition to three by Andrew Kiester, Cole Klotz and Marcus McLin. Kyle Wismer owns a team-high 33 tackles, including seven for loss.
UW-Oshkosh has scored 34+ points six times during its eight-game win streak. The Titans rank 10th nationally in total offense (518 yards per game) and 12th in total defense (247 yards). The first half has belonged to UW-Oshkosh this year, as it outscored its opponents by a 135-26 margin.
Quarterback Nate Wara guides the Titan offense with averages of 219 passing yards and 81 rushing yards. Cole Myhra has been strong in the backfield, running for at least 83 yards in every contest. The receiving duo of Zach Kasuboski and Caleb Voss gives UW-Oshkosh balance. Voss owns 493 yards on 25 catches, while Kasuboski has 285 yards on 27 grabs.
The Titan defense also excels at taking the ball away, recording seven interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Tim Filter leads the team with three interceptions, while Taylor Goodman has three forced fumbles. Goodman also owns 46 tackles, as Andrew Thompson boasts 3.5 of UW-Oshkosh's league-leading 18 sacks.
Last season's contest between these squads went down to the final minute. The Titans led late in the third quarter before UW-Whitewater pulled out a 20-17 victory. The Warhawks own a 72-26-5 edge in the series dating back to 1897.