Third quarter: Buffalo 28, Ball State 17

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
DETROIT -- The perfect season is in some serious jeopardy.

Buffalo returned two fumbles for touchdowns to take a 28-17 lead into the fourth quarter. The two fumble recoveries for touchdowns ties an NCAA record set by USC in 2003.

And early it looked like Ball State was going to take a 10-point lead.

It started with James Starks fumbling his second ball of the game. Ball State took its drive to the 2-yard line before Ball State quarterback Nate Davis tried to do his best Sam Bradford flying-through-the-air-at-the-goal-line impression and fumbled the ball. It was picked up Mike Newton and run back 92 yards for a Buffalo touchdown.

On Ball State's next series, Ball State center Dan Gerberry snapped the ball before Davis was ready and it was picked up by cornerback Sherrod Lott and returned 74 yards.

All night there's been something off about Ball State, but it looked there was some semblance of rhythm early in the third quarter. That's gone now, and the Cardinals find themselves in unfamiliar territory, down 11 heading into the fourth quarter. The Cardinals have not faced a fourth-quarter deficit this large this season.

And Buffalo know how to close out game and play to close endings. Buffalo has played in four overtime games this season and is 3-1. It's played three games with point differentials of a field goal or less.

Ball State was in a tight fourth quarter game against Central Michigan and won late. Otherwise, it hasn't had much competition beyond the third quarter.

While I thinking about it, there have been a couple records set during this game:

  • Buffalo quarterback Drew Willy became the first Buffalo quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season. The threshold was broken on the second touchdown pass to Naaman Roosevelt.

  • Ball State running back MiQuale Lewis set the single-season rushing record when he hit 1,625 in the third quarter. He has over 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

  • Ball State receiver Briggs Orsbon has 11 catches, which is a new MAC Championship record.