- Even after a blowout loss, Deion Sanders had everyone talking about Colorado
Even after a blowout loss, Deion Sanders had everyone talking about Colorado
The inevitable happened for head coach Deion Sanders and his Colorado football team, and it happened last Saturday vs. Oregon at Autzen Stadium.
The Buffaloes finally lost a football game. Not only did the Buffaloes lose, but they fell by a blowout score of 42-6.
Is it weird that I said “finally” when describing Colorado’s first loss of 2023? After all, it happened in Week 4 of the college football season. It’s not like Sanders and his kids were on a winning streak that had stretched over several seasons. In fact, Colorado was so bad a year ago, that it only won one game while losing 11.
The Buffaloes were never a juggernaut, they were just a team that had quickly gained a lot of swagger and national attention after seeing a huge roster turnover from 2022 to 2023 thanks to the player transfer portal.
And thanks to Coach Prime.
Colorado went into Saturday’s matchup against the Ducks with a 3-0 record after victories over TCU, Nebraska and Colorado State, respectively. However, despite the excitement and even anger that had built up around the college football world due to their fast start, the Buffaloes never once looked like an unstoppable force; instead, they looked like a young, exciting team with a high-powered offense that was capable of making huge plays and an undersized defense that was prone to giving up huge plays.
You could see these aspects on display, especially in Weeks 1 and 3. In fact, the 43-35 double-overtime win at Folsom Field in Week 3 against a Colorado State team that came into the game as a 23.5-point underdog should have been the biggest clue that Colorado still had much work to do before it could establish itself as a national power.
The loss to Oregon, and the fashion in which it happened, should not have been a shock to anyone.
The Ducks entered the game 3-0 and ranked 11th in the country, while Colorado, which began the season outside of the top 25, had climbed to the 19th spot.
Regardless of the Week 4 polls, you would have thought the Buffaloes were the top-ranked team in the nation the way the, well, nation reacted to their beatdown at Oregon. I wonder how many people around the country knew Oregon’s nickname was the Ducks prior to last Saturday. I’m not sure if they were even aware of it after Saturday, but that didn’t stop them from going on social media and quacking in glee at the reality of what the Ducks did to Neon Deion’s crew at Autzen Stadium.
I’ll bet a lot of college football fans now know who Oregon head coach Dan Lanning is following his team’s Week 4 demolition of Primetime’s players.
“The Cinderella story is over man. They’re fighting for clicks, we’re fighting for wins,” Lanning told his players during an impassioned pre-game speech. “There’s a difference, right? There’s a difference. This game ain’t going to be played in Hollywood. It’s going to be played on the grass, right? It’s going to be played on the grass.”
Like a lot of America, you could tell Sanders had gotten into Lanning’s head just a bit. It was much the same way during Sanders’s playing career when he likely kept receivers up all night wondering how they could possibly get open against this future Hall of Fame cornerback.
Part of a cornerback’s job is often playing mind games with the receivers he covers. If he talks enough trash and presses the right buttons, that can sometimes be just enough of an edge in a game. It didn’t hurt that Sanders had the natural ability to cover receivers like the proverbial blanket, but his added persona and swagger just took everything to another level during his legendary career.
You can see that already at the college level with how people are responding to Colorado–especially in an emotionally charged negative sense. But while it’s nice that Sanders has people talking about his program–with many openly rooting for him to lose–the only heads and minds that truly matter are the ones that belong to future college football recruits.
Sanders has clearly put his once-downtrodden program on the map. He has connected with his current players, many of whom came to Colorado through the transfer portal. However, the true test will come this offseason when Sanders goes on the recruiting trail and into the homes of four and five-star recruits. Can his message resonate with the best high school football players around the country, or at least the western part of it?
Can Sanders out-recruit the likes of Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh? Can he make Folsom Field just as attractive to young recruits as Notre Dame Stadium?
If Sanders turns Colorado into a destination program for the top recruits in the country, it’s going to take a lot more than impassioned pregame speeches and hopes and prayers on social media to make him less than a primetime player in the college coaching world.
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