Buffaloes hit meaty part of their schedule with swagger but minus injured two-way star Travis Hunter
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The No. 19 Colorado Buffaloes take a little more stagger but no less swagger into the meat of their schedule after surviving a double-overtime thriller in the Rocky Mountain Showdown that stretched into early Sunday.
“Resilience,” coach Deion Sanders said when asked for his takeaway from the Buffaloes’ 43-35 win over three-TD underdog Colorado State, which nearly handed Coach Prime his first Power Five conference setback.
“We showed that we would fight. We showed that we had no surrender or give-up in us,” Sanders said after watching sons Shedeur and Shilo shine in the Buffaloes’ win after falling behind by 11 points in the fourth quarter. “And that’s a lot for a team that’s fairly new, as you say, we just got together.”
Sanders, who hastened the Buffaloes’ rise by scouring the transfer portal like no one before him, figures the scare the Rams put into his team should benefit the Buffaloes when they visit 10th-ranked Oregon (3-0) next weekend before facing Caleb Williams and fifth-ranked USC (3-0) in Boulder in two weeks.
The Buffs (3-0) will be without two-way star Travis Hunter, however, for those showdowns. He was sent to the hospital by Colorado State safety Henry Blackburn’s late hit to his midsection, one of nine personal fouls the Rams committed.
Sanders said he expects Hunter to be out a few weeks and won’t rush him back: “His health is more important than this game.”
Hall of Famer Champ Bailey, who played both ways at Georgia, said it’s always a risk to be on the field all the time.
“Yeah, I mean, people try to take you out, you know, and unfortunately, he might be out some time,” Bailey said Sunday at the Washington Commanders-Denver Broncos game. “... I’m not surprised by what he’s doing. It just goes to show how healthy and durable can he be doing all that. You got a target on you. When people see you on the field all the time, they’re coming after you. ...”That’s just the nature of the game. So you worry about those things, but I mean, the sky’s the limit for him, as well.”
The Buffs fell one spot in the AP Top 25 after rallying from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter, capping a long day that began with Sanders making the rounds at dawn to pump up his program on ESPN’s “College GameDay” and Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff.”
“60 Minutes” also interviewed Sanders, who had his mother deliver the pregame speech alongside Dwayne Johnson before the Buffs stormed onto Folsom Field to the sounds of Lil Wayne rapping from the north end zone.
Other A-list celebs on hand as the Buffs basked in the national spotlight after decades of futility included Rob Gronkowski, Kawhi Leonard and the rapper Offset.
Sanders’ defensive back son Shilo Sanders, who had an 80-yard pick-6 in the game, said he realizes it looks like the Buffs might have been distracted but insists that wasn’t the case.
“If we stop winning, all this stuff goes away, you know?” Shilo Sanders said. “So, we don’t really have a chance to enjoy it like everybody else ... but I doubt we were distracted or felt overconfident that we were going to beat them. We were just making simple mistakes and that’s just how football is.”
Many expected the game to be a laugher, especially after Colorado State coach Jay Norvell provided motivational and marketing fodder by throwing shade at Deion Sanders for always wearing sunglasses during interviews. Coincidentally, this came the same week Coach Prime’s line of signature shades dropped.
“I’m not happy with the way we played, but I’m happy with the win,” Sanders said. “You gotta be happy with the ‘W’ no matter now it comes. Truthfully, at one pont in the game I said: ‘We can’t let this dude win. ... His press conference is going to be unbearable if we let this dude win.’”
His son made sure that wouldn’t happen.
Shedeur Sanders finished 38 of 47 for 348 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He shared the postgame podium with his brother Shilo, who had a forced fumble to go with his pick-6.
When Shilo was running back the 80-yard score, his dad was excitedly running down the sideline just two weeks after limping off the field following several surgeries on his feet to address circulation problems.
“I’m coach. But every now and then, during the game, I have a dad moment,” Sanders said. “And that was a dad moment just running down the sideline as he was running down the sideline. That’s the most I’ve ran in years.”
He was just as excited about his Shedeur Sanders’ 98-yard game-tying drive and overtime heroics.
“This kid can flat-out play,” the elder Sanders said. “Forget the name Sanders. The kid can flat-out play this game.”
AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this report.
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