Western Michigan rang in college football's first night of Tuesday #MACtion for the 2016 season, putting its undefeated record on the line at Ball State. It was a huge stage for P.J. Fleck, Corey Davis and a team that showed out in the spotlight in a 52-20 win.
Viewers at home watched the Broncos get slated No. 23 out of 25 in the first set of rankings from the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. Those that stuck around saw every reason why this energetic coach in a tie and pullover talking about "Row The Boat" has this MAC team undefeated so late in the season.
P.J. Fleck's "Be the diamonds in the rough I know you are" pregame speech was televised, adding buzz to the growing heat around Fleck's infectious character. He welcomes this attention knowing what it means for a program that was 1-11 in 2013.
Fleck's leadership style is passionate and theatric, but it has built WMU into a winner real quick. If Tuesday night was your debut, here's what you need to know about Western Michigan.
1. Corey Davis is the best wide receiver in college football
Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis has a great frame (6-4) and body control in traffic, but it's his ability to turn a short pass into a long play makes him an unstoppable force against most MAC secondaries. Davis had one of his most dominant performances on this nationally televised stage against the Cardinals, setting a MAC single-game record with 272 yards on 12 catches. He also had three receiving touchdowns, bringing the MAC touchdown record and the FBS all-time receiving yards record in reach for the next couple games.
A good chunk of Zach Terrell's career passing yards have come from Davis getting yards after the catch, but this season the veteran quarterback has a 23:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio rolling and has been in total control of the Broncos offense. Between the Terrell-Davis connection and 1,000-yard rusher Jarvion Franklin (through nine games with nine touchdowns), it's hard to isolate the most dangerous threat in Western Michigan's offense.
2. Tom Flacco? Yep, that Flacco
Western Michigan was so dominant in the win, Terrell took a seat as Tom Flacco came in the game. Shortly after checking in he ripped off a career-long 55-yard run to set up another Broncos touchdown. If fans didn't know that Tom Flacco was the brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, they sure do after watching him break through the open field on the long scamper.
3. Western Michigan has a clear path to the New Year's Six
So Western Michigan is No. 23 in the College Football Playoff now, but there's no guarantee they will finish the season as the top team from the Group of Five, especially if they suffer a loss along the way. That No. 23 ranking suggests there's little margin for error moving forward, but Western Michigan will be favored in every game it has left between now and Selection Sunday. Win them all, and they're the team getting to play in a New Year's Six bowl.