KALAMAZOO, MICH. - P.J. Fleck declared his Heisman Trophy winner, although the vote is unofficial.
Following last weekend’s 38-0 victory over Buffalo, moving No. 18 Western Michigan to 11-0 overall and 7-0 in the Mid-American Conference, the Broncos’ coach gave fifth-year senior Zach Terrell an emotional endorsement for the award.
“Our quarterback, in my opinion, is the most valuable player to his football team in the country,” said Fleck, a former receiver at Northern Illinois. “Ninety-nine percent of the country would love to have Zach Terrell on their football team. I promise you that.”
Even though Terrell’s unlikely to receive national consideration for the award, that didn’t stop Fleck from campaigning.
“He’s my Heisman guy,” Fleck said. “I don’t even have a vote, but I’m voting for him.”
Terrell could make his case for some national awards in Friday’s conference showdown against visiting Toledo (9-2, 6-1). The game, being televised by ESPN2 at 5 p.m., will decide the MAC West Division title. The winner advances to the conference championship Dec. 2 at Ford Field.
The Broncos, ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press poll, hope to stay in contention for a major bowl bid, most notably the Cotton Bowl. Western Michigan and top-ranked Alabama (11-0) are the only unbeatens left in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“When you’re undefeated, especially in our conference ... you are everybody’s Ohio State. You are everybody’s national championship game,” Fleck said. “Our target has grown tremendously. It’s our job to keep that target moving. We got to be like the reindeer in Santa’s sleigh. We got to be hauling through fields.”
Terrell will need another strong effort to keep the Broncos’ magical season going.
The Fort Wayne, Ind., native passed for a career-high 445 yards and four touchdowns against Buffalo, giving him a remarkable 27-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season. He owns the WMU record for career yards passing with 11,461, which also ranks fifth all-time in the MAC. His 90 career touchdowns is second at WMU and fifth in MAC history.
“It’s hard not to sit back and reflect on all the things that have happened,” said Terrell, who has completed 209 of his 293 pass attempts this season for 2,890 yards. “Just to see the community and everything that’s happened, it’s been an absolute blessing. We feel so fortunate to be part of it. We’re still writing that story. It’s not over yet.”
Terrell’s favorite target, senior receiver Corey Davis, makes his job easier. Davis, a potential NFL first-round draft pick, had 13 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo, moving him closer to the FBS career receiving record. His 4,987 yards ranks second behind Trevor Insley’s 5,005.
Davis has learned to never underestimate Terrell.
“That’s every game, every practice. He’s always dialed in,” Davis said. “That’s what separates him from all the other quarterbacks in the country. He’s always extremely focused and extremely dialed in. That’s a testament to him.”
Fleck’s high regard for his quarterback is unwavering.
“Zach Terrell is the finest football player and finest man I’ve ever met in my entire life,” he said. “Whatever trophy lists he’s on, he should win them all or it’s a disgrace.”
MAC West showdown
Matchup: Toledo (9-2, 6-1 MAC) at No. 18 Western Michigan (11-0, 7-0).
When: 5 p.m. Friday.
Where: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo.
Line: Broncos by 9 1/2.
Detroit Free Press