A pair of 13-0 teams collide when fifth-ranked UW-Oshkosh and fourth-ranked University of St. Thomas fight for a spot in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl on Saturday (Dec. 8) in St. Paul, Minn. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at O'Shaughnessy Stadium.
The winner of Saturday's contest advances to play top-ranked University of Mount Union (Ohio) or second-ranked University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) in the NCAA Division III Championship game on Dec. 14 in Salem, Va.
UW-Oshkosh is riding a 15-game win streak, the longest in NCAA football. The Titans posted playoff victories of 55-10 over The College of St. Scholastica (Minn.), 37-14 over Bethel University (Minn.) and 31-24 at Linfield College (Ore.).
Last Saturday, the Titans trailed Linfield College 24-9 entering the fourth quarter. Nate Wara (Sr. • Oshkosh) then ran for two touchdowns and threw a two-point conversion to tie the score. UW-Oshkosh blocked a last-second field goal to force overtime. After Caleb Voss (Jr. • Van Dyne) caught a 21-yard touchdown pass, Andrew Thompson (Sr. • Greendale) recovered a Wildcat fumble to end the contest.
That quarterfinal game was UW-Oshkosh's closest of the season. The Titans have had just four of their 13 wins decided by less than 15 points. UW-Oshkosh ranks 16th nationally in both scoring offense (39.3 points) and defense (14.9). A +18 turnover margin has also greatly benefited the Titans this year.
Wara, the West Region Player of the Year, leads the offense with 3,045 yards and 29 touchdowns passing. Cole Myhra (Jr. • Menomonee Falls) ranks fourth in the nation with 1,571 rushing yards, while Voss owns 1,234 yards receiving.
The Titan defense has allowed just three points during the second half in the playoffs. Ryan Stefaniak (Jr. • Milwaukee) counted 26 tackles, five pass breakups, one interception, one safety and a blocked field goal. On the season, Taylor Goodman (Sr. • South Wayne) paces UW-Oshkosh with 97 tackles and three forced fumbles.
St. Thomas owns a 49-4 record over the last four years and a 16-game winning streak at home. The Tommies tallied an 8-0 league record for the third straight season to win the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. During the first two rounds, St. Thomas got past St. Norbert College, 48-17, and Elmhurst College (Ill.), 24-17.
Brenton Braddock ran for four touchdowns as the Tommies defeated Hobart College (N.Y.) by a 47-7 score last Saturday. St. Thomas blocked a punt on the game's first possession to set up a touchdown. The Tommies then intercepted three passes to finish off the Statesmen.
The St. Thomas offense relies on a trio of underclassmen. Sophomore quarterback Matt O'Connell has thrown for 2,499 yards and rushed for another 736. Braddock, a freshman, is the leading runner with 1,008 yards and 16 touchdowns. The top receivers are sophomore wideout Dan Ferrazzo (725 yards) and senior tight end Logan Marks (469).
Defensively, the Tommies rank 11th nationally in scoring (14.2 points) and 22nd in sacks (40). Linebacker Tremayne Williams leads the team with 61 tackles, while lineman Ayo Idowu has five sacks and cornerback Chinni Oji four interceptions. St. Thomas hasn't allowed more than 21 points during its last nine games.
This is the first postseason berth for UW-Oshkosh. St. Thomas is in the playoffs for the fifth time, including a 20-0 loss to UW-Whitewater in last year's semifinal round.