NCF Nation: Cory Sykes

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

DETROIT -- A week ago, I thought Western Michigan would ruin Ball State's perfect season because of the diversity of the offense and strength of the defense. Obviously, that didn't happen. But as I've watched Buffalo through the first quarter of the MAC Championship, it is playing out the way I thought Western Michigan would a week ago.

The Bulls have been able to successfully move the ball on the ground and in the air and it has been efficient on defense. Nate Davis has had a lot of time to throw, but the coverage has been fantastic. Davis went deep once and he failed to connect.

A fumbled snap between Davis and center Dan Gerberry forced Ball State to turn the ball over at the Ball State 25, which resulted in the only score of the quarter -- a two-yard fade from Drew Willy to Naaman Roosevelt.

The touchdown was huge for Buffalo because the Bulls have proven to themselves that Ball State is not invincible. Had Ball State scored first, this might be a lopsided game.

The only problem for Buffalo has been two key false start penalties, including one on a third-and-9 situation that stopped a potential scoring drive.

Davis hasn't played poorly, but he hasn't been the Davis we've seen most of this season. If he was sick earlier I guess you could blame it on that or nerves, but he'll need to pick it up against an inspired Buffalo team.

The Cardinals started to play better toward the end of the quarter behind some tough and shifty running by tailback MiQuale Lewis and Cory Sykes.

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