A Brief Introduction
In what’s become undoubtedly one of the hottest sports stories of the year, the University of Colorado Buffaloes, led by NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, started the 2023 college football season with a 3-0 record, an improvement over last year’s 1-11.
Their first win of the season came against No. 17 Texas Christian University, who were last seen playing Georgia in the national championship game of the previous season.
Colorado entered the game as 21-point underdogs but managed to pull off a spectacular 45-42 win led by quarterback Shedeur Sanders (son of Deion) and unbelievable do-it-all cornerback and wide receiver Travis Hunter.
The Buffaloes’ second game was a matchup with their historical rivals, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who were also led by a new coach: Matt Rhule, former coach of the Carolina Panthers in the NFL.
While the rivalry hasn’t had much intensity to it lately — primarily thanks to the fact that both teams have been dreadful for much of recent memory — Rhule sparked it back up again by leading the entire Nebraska team to stand on the Buffaloes’ logo pregame, which Shedeur Sanders and Colorado took personally. Entering the game as 2.5 point favorites, Colorado secured a comfortable 36-14 win, improving to 2-0.
Taking it Personal
The theme of taking things personally continued into their next matchup against in-state rivals Colorado State.
The day before the game, CSU head coach Jay Norvell took a shot at Deion Sanders, now famous for always wearing his hat and sunglasses, saying “When I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat and glasses off.”
Of course, this did not go over well in the Colorado locker room, with Shedeur Sanders stating on ESPN’s First Take “You gotta be a fool to do that. Come on now, you’re asking for it. It’s just extra motivation.”
However, the game itself was a much closer affair than many expected. Colorado entered the game as 23.5-point favorites, and with the added motivation of Norvell’s perceived disrespect, a blowout seemed inevitable.
Instead, CSU played a tough (some would say dirty) brand of football, forcing Shedeur Sanders and Colorado to complete a 90-yard drive with around two minutes remaining to force overtime. While Colorado did secure a 43-35 win, with No.10 Oregon and No. 5 University of Southern California as their next two matchups, the questions around Colorado became greater. An injury to Hunter, keeping him out for three to four weeks, just added more questions.
Coming Back to Earth
Entering this week’s matchup with the Oregon Ducks, the Buffaloes were 21-point underdogs, the same spread as their week one game against TCU. This week, the result was very different. From the first snap, the skill difference between the two teams was evident. By halftime, Oregon had 35 points, while Colorado had only 22 offensive yards.
While the Buffaloes had been taking their fair share of disrespect over the course of the season, this week they chose to dish it out. Prior to the game, in a reversal of the Nebraska game, many Colorado players stomped on the Oregon logo in the middle of the field, leading Oregon head coach Dan Lanning to give an impassioned pregame speech, saying that the Buffaloes were “fighting for clicks” while Oregon was “fighting for wins.”
After halftime, the Oregon starters played one more drive, extending the lead to 42-0 before getting benched for the rest of the game, allowing Colorado to score their one touchdown of the day, cutting the deficit to 36. That would be the last score of the game, with the scoreboard in Autzen Stadium reading 42-6 Ducks when the final whistle blew.
While the loss was certainly a step back for Shedeur Sanders and the Buffaloes, it is not a death knell. This is a roster primarily made up of transfer and first-year players, and while questions about the talent deficits on the offensive and defensive lines will plague them this year, with time, it seems inevitable that Colorado, under Deion Sanders, will reach heights that haven’t been seen in Boulder for quite some time. But first, a date with No. 8 USC with Heisman Trophy front-runner and projected No. 1 NFL Draft pick Caleb Williams awaits.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons