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MAC Notebook: Ball State’s Wenning putting up big numbers

If it wasn’t for Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch, everyone who follows the Mid-American Conference would be talking about Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning for the Vern Smith Leadership Award, given to the Mid-American Conference MVP.

Saturday’s 42-24 win at Akron was the first time Wenning didn’t throw for 300 yards this season. He still had five touchdown passes, and now holds the school records for career touchdown passes (79) and passing yards (10,119).

He’s the 11th MAC quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards in a career.

So far this season, Wenning has completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,625 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

“I think the most notable jump from last year to this year is how well he’s throwing deep balls,” Ball State head coach Pete Lembo said on Monday’s MAC coaches teleconference. “He’s always been very efficient with the shorter and intermediate throws, but this year I think he’s taken a definite step forward with deep balls, and that’s been really good to see.”

NIU hosts Ball State on Nov. 13 in a matchup that could determine the MAC West champion.

Fleck wins first game: It took longer than he had hoped, but Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck finally got his first career victory Saturday as the Broncos defeated UMass, 31-30, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

The Minutemen scored a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining in the contest to get within one point, and UMass head coach Charley Molnar decided to gamble and go for the two-point conversion. It didn’t pay off, as quarterback A.J. Doyle’s pass sailed out of the end zone.

Fleck has made a lot of noise since arriving at WMU with his “Row the Boat” mantra, and he’s put together a nice 2014 recruiting class. Things started out rough for Fleck, the former Northern Illinois wide receiver and assistant coach, as WMU went through a rough nonconference schedule featuring three Big Ten teams, and also lost to FCS Nicholls State.

It was starting to look like Fleck may have to wait until next year to get his first win before the Broncos pulled one out Saturday.

“We were really proud of their determination, their fight and resiliency,” Fleck said.

Buffalo on top of MAC East: Don’t look now, but Buffalo leads the MAC East at 4-0 and controls its own destiny.

“We’re not where we want to be or where we need to be, but we certainly are not where we used to be,” Bulls head coach Jeff Quinn said.

The Bulls’ league schedule so far (Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Kent State) has been easy, but the tough road starts Nov. 5 when Buffalo hosts Ohio.

“We’re going to play one of the best teams in the MAC, we know that,” Quinn said.

On Monday, Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack was named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award.

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