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Wittenberg can’t overlook upset-minded Oberlin

Wittenberg doesn’t have to look far back in the history books for a reason not to overlook Oberlin in its home opener at 6 p.m. today.

The Yeomen, who haven’t had a winning season since 1974, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in North Coast Athletic Conference history last season, beating Wabash 31-16 in Crawfordsville, Ind. That result helped send the Tigers to the playoffs.

“Here’s the thing, we mentioned that game (to the players), but Oberlin has gotten everybody in the last six years,” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham said. “They’ve gotten Allegheny, Wooster at least once, if not twice. They almost got us in 2010. They’re standing at the 35-yard line, throwing it into the end zone to that 6-foot-5 tight end they had. I was worried about whether I would make it to the bus if they did win.”

The fact remains that Wittenberg hasn’t lost to Oberlin since 1954. They didn’t play between 1955 and 1989 and started playing again in 1990. Wittenberg has won 14 straight in the series since. One of those games was an Oberlin forfeit.

Both the Tigers and Yeomen are 1-1, but Wittenberg got off to a 1-0 start in NCAC play by beating DePauw 45-0 last week. Oberlin led Wooster 14-7 early, but gave up 32 straight unanswered points before losing 39-21.

The Tigers played better in their second game, Fincham said. He also told his players to keep things in perspective.

“I have great respect for DePauw and coach Bill Lynch and his staff,” Fincham said, “but they were still a 2-8 football team last year. Give him a couple of years. We had Mickey Mouse penalties, no big plays, and I don’t know that we were as physical on defense as what I would like us to be.”

The Tigers forced only one turnover in the game.

“In my mind, turnovers are created through hard hits and pursuit,” Fincham said. “Those are two things we’ve got to get better at.”

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