No. 5 Whitewater at Platteville, 1 p.m.
The Warhawks (8-0, 6-0) have locked up the WIAC title and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. In most sports, with nothing to gain in the regular-season finale, a team might rest players or take the foot off the gas to get ready for a postseason run.
Don’t expect that from the Warhawks, though. A win and an undefeated season all but guarantees them a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, meaning home games until the championship round. That is a massive advantage Whitewater will want to attain. Whitewater’s defense will handle Platteville’s run game, so containing the pass attack will be crucial.
If the Pioneers (4-5, 2-4) want to avoid their first losing season since 2009, they’ll have to make big plays on special teams and perhaps on defense. Don’t expect them to score a lot of points on the Whitewater defense.
Whitewater’s Cole Wilber has the most efficient QB in the conference, and has 17 touchdowns.
Stout at Oshkosh, 2 p.m.
Which Oshkosh (5-4, 3-3) team will show up? After losing to Stevens Point two weeks ago in a game that sent shockwaves throughout D-III football, the Titans dropped a game against Eau Claire that reeked of “quit.”
A similar effort to last week will get them beat against Stout. Blue Devils freshman Levy Hamer still leads the conference in receiving yards per game (103.9), and by a comfortable margin. Oshkosh’s strength lies in the secondary, and Stout likes to challenge teams downfield. It should be a fun matchup if the Titans play hard.
Stout (5-4, 3-3) could end an inconsistent season on a high note if it can get the road win. It should take a page out of Eau Claire’s book and try to hold the ball for long periods. Oshkosh ran half as many plays and only had the ball for 18 minutes, 53 seconds against the Blugolds.
Stevens Point at River Falls, 2 p.m.
This matchup points to the oddity that was this WIAC season. Four teams, including these two, are sitting at 2-4 in conference entering the final week.
Stevens Point followed up its historic upset by getting housed at Whitewater, 59-7. How freshman quarterback Max Herro plays in this game is the biggest X-factor for the Pointers (3-6, 2-4). If he’s solid, and gets the ball out to receivers like Christian Almonte and Steve Herra, they should be in pretty good shape.
If he’s inaccurate and doesn’t read the defense well, they’ll have trouble moving the ball. River Falls never got untracked at UW-L last week, falling behind 26-0 and had starting QB Ben Beckman get ejected. Trent Monson and Alex Herink are one of the better receiver duos in the conference, but River Falls relies on them to win one-on-one battles almost exclusively.
This feels like a game that will come down to one crucial mistake at the end.