Deion Sanders has quickly turned Colorado into a national college football program
The Colorado Buffaloes defeated the Colorado State Rams, 43-35, in double overtime at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado, on Saturday night.
I didn’t see the game. I don’t have ESPN, the network that aired and streamed the action, starting at 10 p.m. EST. I did wake up in the middle of the night to see who won, however, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Buffaloes, who trailed 28-17 in the fourth quarter, came stampeding back to tie the score late in regulation and then won it in extra time.
I didn’t have a dog–or buffalo or ram–in the fight between these two bitter intrastate rivals, but so many people around the country seemed to be crestfallen that Colorado State, who came into the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown as 23.5-point underdogs, let the game get away at the end.
Or, should I say, people were miffed that Deion Sanders–Coach Prime–and his team got the last laugh.
The Buffaloes have been laughing it up since Sanders took over a football program that went 1-11 in 2022. And much like his playing career, the general public seems to have a problem with Neon Deion’s antics, along with the familiar arrogance and cockiness he has apparently instilled in his young players.
Included in those youngsters are two of Sanders’s sons. Shilo Sanders, a Colorado safety, opened the scoring with an 80-yard pick-six. Shedeur Sanders, the Buffaloes’ starting quarterback, completed 38 of 47 passes for 348 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Sanders’s final touchdown pass, an 18-yard connection with Michael Harrison, coupled with his two-point strike to Xavier Weaver, proved to be the winning points.
Safety Trevor Woods intercepted a pass in the end zone thrown by Rams quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi to clinch the win, as hundreds of Colorado students rushed onto Folsom Field to celebrate.
I never thought I’d know so much about a game involving Colorado and Colorado St.–including the complicated spelling of the Rams’ starting quarterback.
But that’s Coach Prime for you.
Sanders has made the Buffaloes a national team. Do you know who is currently in the top five in the latest AP poll? I was kind of shocked to learn that Florida State went into the weekend ranked third, but I knew Colorado was 18th before Saturday.
I also knew that Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell heated this already hot rivalry up even more last week by implying that Sanders’s decision to wear sunglasses and a hat while talking to reporters was a sign of disrespect.
Sanders, of course, used it as fuel for his players and even gave them all a pair of his brand of sunglasses before the game. Some of those players even wore those glasses–at night–while talking to reporters after the comeback win.
I knew that.
I also know that a lot of college football fans around the country now suddenly carry a level of hatred for Colorado that is normally reserved for programs like Alabama and Notre Dame. They want to see Coach Prime and his kids lose.
They want to root for whoever the Buffaloes are playing on any given Saturday.
Fans will probably be upset if Shedeur Sanders wins the Heisman Trophy later this year. And with 1,251 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception through three weeks, you darn well better believe Sanders is an early candidate for college football’s most prestigious award.
I am aware that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was at Folsom Field for Saturday’s game. Rapper Lil Wayne was also on hand.
If seeing celebrities on the sideline of a game involving Primetime seems familiar to you, it’s because you’re perhaps recalling the 1991 NFL season when stars like rapper M.C. Hammer would show up to old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium–and even at road games–to watch the Falcons take on all comers.
The Falcons were an afterthought as a member of the NFC West for most of the 1980s and often the prey of divisional powerhouses like the 49ers and Rams. Sanders, along with head coach Jerry Glanville, helped to change all of that. There was a new attitude, a new swagger. Hammer’s hit song–Too Legit To Quit–became the Falcons’ anthem.
The City of Atlanta embraced its professional football team and took on an “Us Against the World” mentality.
Those Falcons didn’t win a Super Bowl, but they did make the playoffs for the first time in nine years and then defeated the NFC West Champion Saints in the wildcard round.
Or maybe Sanders and his Colorado Buffaloes are giving off the same kind of vibes that the Miami Hurricanes did in the mid-to-late ’80s when they were coached by Jimmy Johnson and probably the most hated team in all of college football.
The Hurricanes, who claimed three national titles in the ’80s, won one with Johnson in 1987 when they were perhaps at the height of their “outlaw” status.
Do I know if Sanders has what it takes to get his Colorado program to that same lofty level as the U?
No, I do not know that, but I do know that Colorado travels to Autzen Stadium this Saturday afternoon to take on an undefeated and ranked Oregon squad.
You probably know it, too, and you’ll be heavily invested in the outcome.