Warhawks look to stay unbeaten
UW-Whitewater has outscored its opponents 281-37, and the Warhawks have won their first three Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games by a combined 129 points.
The football team can likely forget about such numbers for a few weeks.
The WIAC race will be shaped over the next three Saturdays, as the Warhawks will face the toughest stretch of their season. They'll face two teams ranked right next to them in the top 10 in Division III nationally, then a team that is receiving national votes.
First things first, they travel to UW-Oshkosh for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday.
“We've got one game to worry about right now, and that's Oshkosh,” said UW-W coach Lance Leipold, whose team hosts Platteville on Nov. 2 and travels to Stevens Point on Nov. 9. “I don't know if there's a way physically possible to play the game that's three weeks from now, so we better play the one that's schedule for this week and focus our attention on that.”
Both Whitewater—No. 5 in the AFCA and No. 7 in the D3football.com Division III polls— and Oshkosh—No. 9 in both—have become accustomed to playing in high-scoring blowout games, but Saturday's matchup pits the league's top two defensive units against one another.
Whitewater leads the WIAC in scoring defense (6.2 points per game), passing defense (118.7 yards), total defense (196) and turnover margin (+2.17). Oshkosh is second in all of those categories.
“This will be, in so many ways, our biggest test of the year, and the best team we've played so far,” Leipold said.
That certainly goes for UW-W's young offensive line.
A main storyline heading into the season, the group has risen to any challenge up to this point. Quarterback Matt Behrendt has been sacked just five times in six games, and without a heavy dose of pressure, has yet to throw an interception.
Conversely, the Titans lead the league in sacks with nearly four per game, and they have converted that pressure into a whopping 16 interceptions—the second-most in Division III football.
“Matt continues to progress; it was a year ago in this game where we put Matt in (for the first time) in the second quarter,” Leipold said. “We don't need him to do anything more than what he's been doing at this time.
“I'm pleased on where the (offensive line) has evolved to this point, but much like everything, we'll be as good as we are this current week.”
The time for blowouts is gone. It's time to sort out the WIAC.