College Football: Tommies to face defending D-III champion today
Tribune Staff Report
No. 3-ranked St. Thomas (13-0) will travel to No. 1-rated UW-Whitewater (13-0) for today's NCAA playoff semifinal game.
Kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN3.com.
Whitewater has won the last two Division III championships and has won 43 consecutive games, the fifth longest streak in NCAA history. UWW has also won 25 in a row at home. The Warhawks are 30-6 in NCAA in 10 postseason runs and are in the NCAA III playoff semifinal round for the seventh consecutive season.
Warhawks' senior RB Levell Coppage, who has had four 200-plus yard rushing games this season, is the second leading rusher in NCAA III history with 7,594 yards.
The Tommies and Warhawks are among just seven unbeatens left in NCAA football. They join LSU, Sam Houston State, Winston-Salem and Mount Union and 8-0 Amherst.
The Tommies have set a school record for victories and advanced to the national semifinals for the first time in school history. Their 25-1 record over the last two seasons is the third best in Division III.
They are 8-3 all-time in four NCAA playoff trips (1991, 2009, 2010, 2011), including a 24-23 first round victory at Whitewater 21 seasons back. In eight NCAA playoff games in the Glenn Caruso era, St. Thomas has only allowed 20 second-half points.
The Toms have won 23 of their last 24 at home and 10 in a row on the road. They are 15-1 outside MIAC play in the four-year Glenn Caruso era.
Caruso has accomplished something few college football coaches can claim. In his six seasons he's improved his team's victory total each season -- from 2-7 to 4-5 in his two seasons at Macalester, to 7-3, 11-2, 12-1 and 13-0 in four seasons at UST.
UST's defense has allowed just five touchdowns in its last nine games and leads all NCAA teams in rushing defense at 47.8 ypg. Despite losing three starters since fall camp to season-ending injuries, the unit has a school-record 47 sacks and has held teams to just 20 percent on third-down conversions.
Fifteen different Toms have a sack, and 11 different players have an interception and 10 different players have a forced fumble or fumble recovery. The Tommies have forced a 3-and-out then a punt 67 times in 13 games.