Instead of normal recaps, I figured it'd be interesting to compare expectations to results for every D3 Football Quarterfinal matchup — so that's what we're going to do.
Here's part of what I said about Oshkosh vs St. Thomas last week:
It’s too bad these teams had to meet so early. I’ve admired Oshkosh all season and fully expected them to go far in the playoffs, but this matchup with St. Thomas might prove too much to handle. I don’t think the Titans defense will allow a blowout, and think they can hammer the Tommies with a potent rushing attack. But can they produce enough points to keep pace with St. Thomas’ high-octane offense? Not so sure.
Intriguingly, the last time Oshkosh met up with St. Thomas was during the 2012 playoffs. The Titans lost 28-14. I see a similar outcome this week.
ST. THOMAS 33, UW-OSHKOSH 14
WHAT HAPPENED: OSHKOSH 34, ST. THOMAS 31
OK, I was wrong in my prediction with this one, but I should mention how I called Oshkosh my “Dark Horse” heading into the playoffs. I was impressed with the way the Titans handled Washington University and Saint John’s in the previous two rounds, and voiced legit concern over St. Thomas’ lack of opposition.
Let’s talk about that for a moment. Remember when the Seahawks blasted Denver in the Super Bowl? The Broncos entered the contest with the top offense and a competent defense, and were expected to destroy Seattle. Well, Seattle ended up punching Denver in the mouth with a stout defense and won 43-8. The reason? Denver’s route to the championship game was easy. It faced a soft AFC and never experienced many close games because their offense blew out opponents every week.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, endured the NFC grind every week. By the time they reached the Super Bowl, the team was battle tested. The final score reflected that.
A similar thing happened on Saturday, I think. St. Thomas entered the game with blowout victories in six consecutive contests in which they outscored opponents 309-45. In the first two rounds of the playoffs the Tommies dismantled Northwestern 43-0 before destroying Coe 55-6.
Oshkosh, on the other hand, endured a tough loss versus Whitewater in early October, endured a defensive slugfest against Stevens Point a week later and won late against Platteville a week after that.
Just last week, the Titans squared off against Saint John’s in a game that wasn’t decided until the two-minute mark in the fourth quarter.
In other words, Oshkosh was battle tested, at least more so than the Tommies. The result? A season-high eight turnovers, two of them in the fourth quarter during pivotal moments in the game. QB Alex Fenske threw five interception after throwing just four INTs all season!
All credit to Oshkosh, which struck fast and held strong down the stretch.
QB Brett Kasper completed 13-of-26 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns and found receiver Sam Mentkowski seven times for 184 yards and three TDs. RBs Dylan Hecker and Devon Linzenmeyer each accrued 70 yards apiece, with the former netting the teams only rushing touchdown of the day.
The Titans get to take on John Carroll next week in a game that could possibly top this one in terms of entertainment value.