KALAMAZOO, Mich. –- Western Michigan star wide receiver Corey Davis looked every bit like a first-round NFL talent Saturday against the University at Buffalo.
The 6-foot-3, 213-pound senior caught 13 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos’ rout of the Bulls.
Davis is projected to be picked late in the first round or early in the second in the NFL Draft next spring.
He pushed his career receiving yards total to 4,987, just 19 shy of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision all-time record. That’s held by Trevor Insley, who played for Nevada from 1996-99.
“He’s just a special guy,” said UB linebacker Ishmael Hargrove. “He really showed his talent today. Credit to him and to Western. They have a lot of weapons and it’s hard to keep them all contained.”
Davis’ first TD came on a pivot route against UB cornerback Tatum Slack for 22 yards, which put Western ahead, 7-0. Davis was quick in cutting up the sideline for the UB sophomore.
Davis beat UB zone coverage on post patterns from the slot for 27, 20 and 25 yards. His second score was a 7-yard pivot route against cornerback Boise Ross to the side of the end zone. That made it 31-0.
“Just because of his on-the-field success, a lot of people see that and it is absolutely mind-boggling, but to see his work ethic and humility off the field is more impressive to me,” quarterback Zach Terrell said.
Davis, an Illinois native, did not have any FBS offers until Western coach P.J. Fleck pursued him four years ago. Davis also stands first in MAC history and third in FBS history in receiving TDs with 49. Jarrett Dillard of Rice is the all-time leader with 60 TDs.
No Tyree: UB freshman quarterback Tyree Jackson was not able to play due to a bruised quadriceps suffered in the third quarter of last week’s game against Miami Ohio. Jackson was in uniform and worked out before the game. But he clearly was not 100 percent. Jackson grew up 90 minutes north of Kalamazoo in Norton Shores, Mich.
Jordan report: UB senior Jordan Johnson rushed 16 times for 95 yards to being his season total to 979 yards. Johnson moved past O.D. Underwood and into sixth place on UB’s all-time rushing list. Johnson has 2,151 yards for his career and stands just behind his predecessor in the UB backfield, Anthone Taylor (2,651).
“Jordan is playing his tail off,” said UB coach Lance Leipold. “He’s leading this football team.”
First quarter: Western Michigan was averaging 11.5 points a game in the first quarter but the first 15 minutes ended 0-0. It was the first time Western Michigan had not scored in the first quarter since its season-opener against Northwestern.
Breakdowns: Western’s second TD was set up by a 40-yard pass to Michael Henry. UB had Davis double-covered on a post route but lost track of Henry, who was wide open down the right sideline. . . . Western’s third TD came on a 65-yard receiver screen to Henry. UB safety Ryan Williamson took a bad angle on the play, which allowed Henry to see nothing but green turf ahead of him once he got past the UB cornerback.
Top defender: UB junior linebacker Ishmael Hargrove had 13.5 tackles and forced a fumble that stopped a Western drive in the second quarter. Asked where this UB run defense had been all season, Hargrove said:
“Honestly, I just think we’ve gained more confidence throughout the season. A few games we kind of were tentative. We weren’t sure if we could trust the game plan. Things like that. I feel like as the season has progressed we’ve begun to trust the game plan more and play our roles more. I think that’s cut down on some of the yards allowed. For next game and especially next year that’s going to be a big leap for us.”
Lineup notes: UB’s Ross, still hobbled by the sore knee he injured four weeks ago, did not start. Slack started in his place. But Ross, Slack and sophomore Brandon Williams all rotated at that corner posiiton. . . . UB changed up its starting receivers. Redshirt freshman K.J. Osborn and junior Jamarl Eiland opened the game in place of regular outside receiver starters Kamathi Holsey and Malcolm Robinson. All rotated on the outside with Marcus McGill working the slot.
In the house: Paid attendance was 26,136 at Waldo Stadium.
Up next: UB ends its season at Bowling Green at 2:30 p.m. Friday. Bowling Green (3-8) has beaten Akron and Kent State the last two weeks. The Falcons blew out Kent State, 42-7. Western Michigan has a huge regular-season finale at home against the second-best team in the MAC, Toledo (9-2).