Titans move to No. 8 in football rankings

Jacob Link, Staff Writer

Coming off a dominant 28-10 win against Northern Michigan, an NCAA Division II school, the UW-Oshkosh had two weeks off before their conference opener against UW-Platteville this Saturday.

Sophomore Kobe Berghammer threw three touchdowns against Northern Michigan, as the Titans built a 21-0 lead at halftime and never looked back. The Titans improved to 2-0 on the year and have won two of their last three games against NCAA Division II opponents. Oshkosh improved to a 15-9-1 record against Northern Michigan, the first meeting between the two schools since 1953, and the first win for the Titans since 1947.

Kicker Jayden Haag, a preseason All-American and the preseason No. 1 ranked kicker in Division III, said that the Titans have been able to rely on their defense the last two games.

“Our defense has been a real strength this year with our ‘bend, don’t break’ mentality,” Haag said.

Head coach Pat Cerroni said that the second half success against Alabama’s Huntingdon College provided momentum that carried the Titans to a dominant performance against Northern Michigan.

“We finished strong and went strong into the next game,” he said, adding that beating an NCAA Division II school is a significant win for the program, but “winning after COVID was one of the biggest wins of all time in program history.”

Cerroni also confirmed rumors that Northern Michigan was using the game to recruit Wisconsin high school football players.

“Yes, on a podcast their coach went and said that he was using the game as a recruiting tool to recruit kids from Wisconsin,” Cerroni said. The Titans used these comments as motivation during the buildup to the game. “It’s always a big deal for DIII athletes to go up against a DII or DI-AA team because they (DII and DIAA athletes) get paid [with athletic scholarships] to play,” Cerroni said.

After the win against Northern Michigan, UW Oshkosh jumped from No. 11 to No. 9 in the d3football.com top 25 rankings. Following losses by No. 5 Wheaton (Illinois) and No. 8 Muhlenberg (Pennsylvania) the next week, the Titans jumped another spot, becoming the No. 8 ranked team.

UWO enters week five ranked at No. 8, and their rivals in UW-Whitewater are ranked at No. 3. This sets up a battle between two top 10 opponents on Oct. 16. Looking ahead to this Saturday, UWO will face a UW-Platteville team that is 1-2 on the year. The Pioneers score an average of 27.33 points a game, while giving up 28 points a game. Platteville lost to East Texas Baptist and Bethel (Minnesota) 37-31 and 28-7, respectively. On Sept. 18, they beat Franklin (Indiana) 44-19. Same as UWO, UW-Platteville had a bye week last week.

Cerroni said that this is the toughest test of the season so far because Platteville is a conference opponent. He added that “it’s a tough conference (the WIAC). Everyone is good, but we’re a good football team focusing on us, not anything else.”

UWO looks to improve to 3-0 on the season this Saturday at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium in Platteville at 2 p.m.