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‘Just ball out’: No. 22 Buffs, Deion Sanders eye encore vs. Nebraska

Sep 2, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders runs on the field before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It took just one game for new coach Deion Sanders to match Colorado’s 2022 victory total.

The Buffaloes (1-0) also made quite a splash in the debut of “Coach Prime” and are the No. 22-ranked team in the nation entering Saturday’s contest against Nebraska (0-1) in Boulder, Colo.

The overwhelming preseason storyline was that Colorado was in for a long season as it had just 10 returning scholarship players in the program due to Sanders’ roster overhaul that brought in 84 new players.

But last week’s epic 45-42 road victory over TCU — a team that played in last season’s national title game — has prompted a quick change of perception. Suddenly, praise is overflowing and quarterback Shedeur Sanders and two-way standout Travis Hunter are being mentioned as Heisman Trophy candidates.

“Hey man, all we have to do is win. You see all the attention that we’re getting? That has registered now,” Deion Sanders said during Tuesday’s news conference. “These young men, they know now that if we just ball out, we’re going to get the love that we desire. And that’s all they want. They want attention, focus, a little love and light. Ain’t nothing wrong with that as long as they use it in the right way.”

Shedeur Sanders set a school record with 510 passing yards while throwing four touchdown passes, running back Dylan Edwards scored four touchdowns (one rushing, three receiving) in his college debut and Hunter caught 11 passes for 119 yards on offense and intercepted a pass near the goal line on defense.

Hunter, who followed Deion Sanders from Jackson State to Colorado, played a stunning 129 snaps in his Buffaloes debut.

“It’s fun. It’s all in your body, but that’s what you got treatment for,” Hunter said. “I liked it. I like going out there. I didn’t get a touchdown but I got an interception, so that’s just gonna help my stats. That’s gonna help my team.”

Like Deion Sanders, Nebraska’s Matt Rhule also is in his first season at a new school. He coached at Temple and Baylor in the college ranks and spent 2 1/2 seasons with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers before being fired last October.

Rhule said Monday that Colorado’s opening performance wasn’t a stunner to him.

“Coach Sanders is a football guy,” Rhule said. “While you can watch all their practices and stuff on TV, at the end of the day when has he ever not been serious about football? He’s been a head coach now. They’ve got elite players and elite players up and down the front. Every time you have a great quarterback you have a chance to win. I wasn’t surprised at all.”

Rhule’s debut with the Cornhuskers was not a happy one. Nebraska blew a seven-point, fourth-quarter lead as Minnesota scored 10 points in the final 2:32 to post a 13-10 victory.

Dragan Kesich kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired for the Golden Gophers.

Quarterback Jeff Sims was intercepted three times in his Nebraska debut. The former Georgia Tech starter completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for a team-high 91 yards on 19 rushes.

“He’s not the first quarterback that’s ever thrown three interceptions,” Rhule said. “The great ones bounce back from it even better. I think you find out about people when they go through a little bit of adversity.”

Cornhuskers receiver Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda suffered a season-ending ACL tear against Minnesota.

Nebraska leads the all-time series 49-20-2 but Colorado has won the lone two meetings since the Cornhuskers departed the Big 12 for the Big Ten following the 2010 season. The Buffaloes prevailed 34-31 in overtime on Sept. 7, 2019 in Boulder in the most recent meeting.

–Field Level Media

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