MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis used a nationally televised game as his own personal proving ground Tuesday night.
He got open all game. He made spectacular plays when given the chance. And, of course, he kept the 17th-ranked Broncos unbeaten.
By the time the show-stopping senior finally left the 52-20 victory over Ball State, he had caught 12 passes for a Mid-American Conference-record 272 yards, tied the conference mark for career touchdown receptions (47) and celebrated a school-record 11th consecutive victory.
"It’s kind of like The Masters out there when there’s no wind blowing and it’s just a beautiful day, and you’re just feeling really good," coach P.J. Fleck said before joking about a couple of drops Davis had. "But I told him, `You left some meat on the bone out there.’"
At 6-foot-3, 213 pounds, some NFL scouts think Davis has what it takes to be a first-round draft pick next year. Some of them watched the game from the press box.
If Davis plays like he did Tuesday night, some team could get a real steal this spring.
It seemed like Davis burned the Cardinals’ secondary on every play, catching TD passes of 57, 35 and 62 yards while moving within 296 yards of Trevor Insley’s 17-year-old national record (5,005). Davis has 4,709 yards.
Western Michigan (9-0, 5-0 MAC, No. 23 CFP) knew just how talented Davis was after watching him the past four years.
The rest of a curious college football world may have gotten its first long look at him Tuesday when quarterback Zach Terrell went 23 of 34 for 367 yards with the three TD passes.
Ball State (4-5, 2-3) made too many mistakes to have a chance after Jarvion Franklin gave Western Michigan the lead for good with a 23-yard TD run in the first quarter.
"Unfortunately, we didn’t execute at a high level like we needed to in order to have a chance to win against a football team like Western Michigan," first-year Ball State coach Mike Neu said.
Western Michigan: The conference’s top team and one of five remaining unbeaten teams certainly did not disappoint on national television. But will a blowout over a struggling MAC opponent be enough to help the Broncos climb the College Football Playoff rankings? Probably not.
Ball State: Neu doesn’t have the talent or depth to compete with a team as strong as Western Michigan, but the opportunity to play a good team certainly gives Ball State a glimpse into how much it needs to improve to compete for a conference crown.
Ball State junior Jack Milas replaced injured quarterback Riley Neal, and Milas finished 20 of 38 for 199 yards with one touchdown. Milas threw two interceptions in the first half and two other interceptions were dropped by Western Michigan defenders.
Broncos CB Darius Phillips picked off Milas’ sixth pass of the game and returned it for a 75-yard touchdown — his third pick-six of the season. … Franklin, the MAC’s No. 2 rusher after eight games, ran 17 times for 109 yards and two scores. The Broncos were plus-3 on turnovers after starting the day at plus-12. … Ball State’s James Gilbert only needed one quarter to extend his streak of consecutive 100-yard games to five. Gilbert finished with 29 carries for 155 yards and one score.
Western Michigan: After becoming the first 9-0 team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the only unbeaten outside the top four will watch this weekend to see if anyone else loses. If the Broncos win their next two, against teams that are a combined 5-12, Western Michigan should continue ascending.
Ball State: The Cardinals have lost two straight, are under .500 and in last-place in the MAC West.
Western Michigan: The steamrolling Broncos head to Kent State (3-6, 2-3) next Tuesday, and will have to deal with yet another team trying to send a national message.
Ball State: The Cardinals hope to gain some momentum next Tuesday when they welcome Eastern Michigan. Ball State has won 10 of the last 11 in the series.