Is Colorado’s Travis Hunter a Legitimate Heisman Candidate?
Colorado put the country on notice following its Week 1 win at TCU.
The Buffaloes entered the year with a new head coach in Deion Sanders, his son Shedeur Sanders at quarterback, and a huge overhaul of the roster from last year’s 1-11 team. Many questioned whether this team could compete right away with a massive overhaul and the question was answered for one week.
Colorado entered Saturday as a three-touchdown underdog against a team that played in the National Championship last season. From the early moments, Sanders and his new-look Buffaloes took control with a strong offensive showing. Sanders set a new single-game passing record for Colorado with 510 yards and found his favorite target early.
Travis Hunter, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2022, played on both sides of the ball at Jackson State last season. The question was, could he do this at the Power Five level?
Hunter logged 11 catches for 119 yards offensively. On the other side of the ball, he added three tackles and an interception as TCU was in the red zone. Hunter played a total of 144 snaps. This is uncharted territory so many were surprised by this performance. His head coach was not in that group.
“He is him,” Prime Time told Fox’s Jenny Taft before entering the halftime locker room. “We missed him on 2 deep balls. If we hit those, the Heisman is in his crib chilling right now. God bless.”
Travis Hunter vs #17 TCU (2023)
• 11 Receptions
• 119 Receiving Yards
• 1 INT
• 1 Pass deflection (near INT)
• 3 Tackles
• 64 Snaps on offense
• 80 Snaps on defense pic.twitter.com/lyBEkcsVfZ
— College Football Report (@CFBRep) September 3, 2023
Hunter’s odds to win the Heisman improved following Week 1. He not sits at +3500, which are the same odds as his quarterback. According to BetMGM, Hunter is one of 17 players that have odds of 35/1 to better. Of course, 16 of the 17 are quarterbacks. Caleb Williams of USC remains as the favorite to repeat as the winner at +450, followed by Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. (+850) and Florida State’s Jordan Travis (+1000).
For Hunter, his dual-threat ability has put him into the conversation but it remains a question mark whether he can continue this level of production on both sides of the ball across 12 games.
Colorado’s schedule is going to stiffen up. The Buffaloes still have to play the likes of USC, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, and Oregon State. This is not an easy road through the Pac-12. TCU saw plenty of overhaul from last season as well, including Max Duggan going to the NFL, and took steps back. This is not to take anything away from Hunter and Colorado but the roads are going to get bumpier as the season goes on.
A Week 1 victory already swayed many as the Buffaloes prepare to play Nebraska. The Cornhuskers opened as eight-point favorites but that line has moved double-digit points. Colorado is not sitting at a three-point favorite. It is clear bytes alone that the country is buying into the hype of Hunter and the Buffaloes.
We did learn a few things. First, Sanders is going to bring Colorado back, both on and off the field. Second, his son is a legitimate Power Five quarterback with the athleticism and intangibles to be successful. Finally, Hunter has inserted his name in the conversation of best player in the nation.
If the Heisman is the goal, Hunter has jumped into the Top 20 odds. If he can duplicate this performance against Nebraska, he will climb even higher.
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