UW-Oshkosh achieved unprecedented success and created many memories during the 2012 football season.
The Titans made their debut in the NCAA Division III playoffs and captured their first WIAC title in 36 years. Following three playoff victories, UW-Oshkosh appeared in the semifinals – one game away from the Stagg Bowl. The Titans finished with a 13-1 record and reached numerous milestones in the process.
Quarterback Nate Wara became the school's first All-American by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). He was also named D3football.com's Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for a school-record 3,311 yards and 30 touchdowns. Wara's 4,051 total yards this season rank 13th in NCAA Division III history. Wara was one of four finalists for the National Player of the Year Gagliardi Trophy.
Pat Cerroni received Coach of the Year awards from the WIAC and the AFCA Region 5. He is currently one of five finalists for Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year. Cerroni led the Titans to a 15-game win streak, which was the longest in NCAA football.
Seven Titans made the D3football.com All-America Team. Wara was named to the first team, while running back Cole Myhra and and cornerback Tim Filter earned spots on the second. Tackle Brandon Peter received a third-team award, as linebacker Taylor Goodman, center Ben Strehlow and defensive end Andrew Thompson gained fourth-team status. Strehlow then was voted a NCAA Division III Academic All-American, becoming the first UW-Oshkosh football player with the distinction in 10 years.
UW-Oshkosh owned six players on the D3football.com All-West Region First Team. Receiver Caleb Voss joined Myhra, Peter and Wara on the offensive squad. Filter and Goodman were voted to the defensive team. Before 2012, UW-Oshkosh had just two all-region selections.
A record 10 Titans were named to the All-WIAC First Team. Besides the seven All-Americans, UW-Oshkosh had Voss, all-purpose back Zach Kasuboski and defensive lineman Nathan Smith earn the honor.
Hosting round one of the postseason, UW-Oshkosh fell behind early to The College of St. Scholastica (Minn.). The Titans then scored touchdowns on eight of 10 drives for an easy 55-10 victory. Myhra (198 yards) and Wara (128) compiled their highest rushing totals of the season.
Myhra found the end zone three times during the second playoff game, when UW-Oshkosh scored 37 straight points after trailing 14th-ranked Bethel University (Minn.), 14-0. Voss caught a 36-yard touchdown in the third quarter to take the lead. He then ran past the defense for a 27-yard score minutes later.
UW-Oshkosh overcame a double-digit deficit for the third straight game when it traveled to third-ranked Linfield College (Ore.). Many student-athletes flew on a plane for the first time during the 2,000-mile trip. The Titans were down, 24-9 in the fourth quarter, before Wara ran for two touchdowns to tie the score. The special teams also contributed with two blocked field goals in the final quarter. During overtime, Voss made a 21-yard touchdown grab and Thompson recovered a fumble to send UW-Oshkosh to the Final Four. It was the Titans' 10th consecutive road win, snapping a 25-game home win streak for Linfield.
In the national semifinal round, UW-Oshkosh fell to fourth-ranked University of St. Thomas, 28-14, at St. Paul, Minn. The Titans fought hard after trailing by 21 points, but Cory Wipperfurth's 77-yard touchdown catch wasn't enough. UW-Oshkosh also scored on a Wara one-yard run.
Other team records established this season include best start (13-0), national ranking (fifth), longest win streak (15), most points (525) and total offense (6,721 yards). Filter led the nation with eight interceptions, while Myhra (1,589 rushing yards) and Voss (school-record 1,333 receiving) each ranked fourth in the NCAA Division III. UW-Oshkosh finished with a +17 turnover margin to list 14th in the country.
The season opener against Central College (Iowa) foreshadowed how special 2012 would be. UW-Oshkosh bolted to a 41-0 lead at halftime on its way to a 47-28 victory. Central College had been 25-6 over the last three years.
The Titans entered the national rankings before their road trip to Alma College (Mich.). After falling behind, UW-Oshkosh exploded for 49 points in less than 19 minutes. The 70-9 win represented the program's highest point total in 100 years. The Titans scored 10 touchdowns, including a league-record eight on the ground.
The running game reached a new level with 442 yards in a 50-13 triumph over UW-Eau Claire. UW-Oshkosh also totaled a school-record 35 first downs as it went 5-0 for the first time in 44 years.
UW-Platteville, ranked 14th, was the first of five nationally ranked teams that the Titans faced. UW-Oshkosh went against an offense that averaged 45 points and smothered it for a 34-13 victory. The rainy Homecoming win sent the Titans to 6-0, a mark they had not reached since 1923.
Statewide television crews visited Whitewater when UW-Oshkosh took on the fifth-ranked Warhawks. The Titans came out on fire in front of a WIAC-record 12,318 fans. Wara threw three first-half touchdowns for a 21-0 lead. UW-Oshkosh then defeated the three-time defending national champions, 28-13, for the first victory in Whitewater since 1987. The decision snapped UW-Whitewater's 27-game conference win streak.
UW-Oshkosh clinched the WIAC championship and a playoff berth at UW-La Crosse. The Titans' 41-7 triumph was their first in La Crosse in 45 years. Wara threw for a career-high 369 yards, while the defense recorded nine sacks.
A 42-point second quarter highlighted UW-Oshkosh's 56-31 win over UW-Stevens Point. That victory clinched the league title outright and gave the Titans nine wins for the first time ever. Kasuboski caught a 94-yard touchdown to set the school record.
The Titans took part in several community service projects during the past six months, including events associated with the Oshkosh Boys & Girls Club, Oshkosh YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, Old Glory Honor Flight and Feeding America.
There have been 118 years of UW-Oshkosh football, but the 2012 season is one that will not be forgotten.
Written by Jon Feyen, UW-Oshkosh Sports Information