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How far can Colorado go? Shedeur Sanders, Buffaloes impress again vs. Nebraska


BOULDER, Colo. — The rollicking party to celebrate college football’s newest renaissance man began in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning when tailgaters flooded the Colorado campus. They lit their grills and poured their drinks long before the sun climbed over the eastern edge of Folsom Field because Deion Sanders — better known as Coach Prime — has made believers of a previously sullen fan base. More than 53,000 of them poured into the stadium to form the largest crowd this venue has seen in 15 years, and their celebrations never really stopped.

A tight first half evolved into the second consecutive showcase of what Sanders is building as Colorado reeled off 24 straight points in a 36-14 win over rival Nebraska. The team that was projected by oddsmakers to win no more than four games has amassed half that total in the first two weeks, and who’s to say how far these Buffaloes can go?

Colorado Fans RUSH field after first home victory under Deion Sanders

Here are quick takeaways from Saturday’s game:

Turning point of the game

Trailing by 13 to begin the second half, Nebraska quarterback Jeff Sims injected life into the strong contingent of visiting fans with a 57-yard touchdown run on a designed keeper down the right sideline. It was the Cornhuskers‘ longest gain of the day.

Needing a response in what was Colorado’s only moment of unrest in an otherwise controlled performance, Sanders calmly orchestrated a 10-play, 75-yard drive in a little more than three minutes to kneecap Nebraska and reclaim momentum. He punished the Cornhuskers for an all-out blitz on third and 10 by connecting with wideout Xavier Weaver for a 41-yard gain down the right sideline. And then, on another third and 10 several plays later, coolly rolled to his left as his receivers crossed the back of the end zone on a long-developing play. He rifled a 12-yard touchdown to Weaver for his second passing score of the game.

That drive ignited a run as Colorado broke the game open with the kind of efficiency it showed in last week’s win over Texas Christian.

Player of the game

For the second consecutive week, Sanders was the most dangerous player on the field. A modest first half in which he completed 14 of 21 passes for 134 yards and a score gave way to a breathtaking second that saw his completion percentage rise to 73.8% on 42 attempts as he shredded an overmatched Cornhuskers’ secondary. Sanders connected on 11 consecutive throws to bridge the second and third quarters with a wonderful combination of deep-ball accuracy, poise in the pocket and a willingness to buy time with his legs.

That he never lost his composure against a Nebraska defense that sacked him eight times. He continued to dip and dodge his way through defenders that penetrated the Colorado backfield in search of the ideal throwing lanes, and then he punctuated the afternoon by barreling through contact near the goal line for a 6-yard touchdown run. It was his first rushing score of the season.

Through two games, Sanders is an unquestioned early candidate for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

‘I told you we were coming’ — Deion Sanders’ postgame interview

Key stat

A week after throwing three interceptions in a season-opening loss to Minnesota — the last of which set up the Gophers’ winning field goal in the waning seconds — Sims threw another interception against Colorado and also played a role in at least two fumbles.

Sims spoiled a promising opening drive that gained 42 yards over seven plays before he fumbled a snap at the Colorado 31-yard line. The Cornhuskers were robbed of a potential field goal opportunity when Sims failed to make the recovery as the ball skittered around by his feet, with Colorado defensive end Arden Walker making a one-handed snag instead.

His biggest mistake came with 2:43 remaining in the second quarter and Nebraska trailing by a field goal. On third-and-12 from deep in his own half of the field, Sims rolled to his right and forced a throw into tight coverage along the sideline. The pass was undercut and intercepted by safety Cam’Ron Silmon-Craig to give Colorado the ball in plus territory. Sanders connected with wideout Tar’Varish Dawson Jr. on the very next play for a 30-yard touchdown that extended the lead to double digits. The Buffaloes scored 13 points in the span of 4:20 to end the first half.

Sims was also involved in three more ball security miscues that hamstrung the Cornhuskers: a pair of snaps that collided with players crossing in motion on jet sweep action, and a mishandled exchange with tailback Gabe Ervin Jr. that led to a fumble recovery for Colorado in the fourth quarter.

What’s next for Nebraska?

Opening the season with a Big Ten road game was always going to be a tough ask for Rhule, whose overhaul of the Nebraska program trailed only Sanders’ in terms of breadth. Following a 13-10 loss to Minnesota with another road game against a Power 5 opponent gave the Cornhuskers one of the toughest opening stretches in the country. The next two weeks should offer significant reprieve as Nebraska hosts Northern Illinois on Sept. 16 and Louisiana Tech on Sept. 23 in the program’s final non-conference games of the season. In theory, the Cornhuskers should claw back to .500 ahead of a home showdown with No. 2 Michigan on Sept. 30.

What’s next for Colorado?

After opening the Coach Prime era with consecutive wins over Power 5 opponents, the Buffaloes welcome Colorado State to Folsom Field on Sept. 16 for what oddsmakers will expect to be their third straight win — a stunning accomplishment given the external expectations surrounding Sanders’ reclamation project. But looming on the horizon are a pair of monumental showdowns against No. 13 Oregon on Sept. 23 (away) and No. 6 USC on Sept. 30 (home). Colorado can’t overlook the Rams in the meantime.

Michael Cohen covers college football and basketball for FOX Sports with an emphasis on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.



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