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HomeFootballNCAA FootballAfter 1 win, what's the ceiling for Colorado football?

After 1 win, what’s the ceiling for Colorado football?

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Deion Sanders is one of the best football players of all time. He’s the best cover corner ever. He’s one of the best trash talkers ever.

Colorado’s thrilling 45-42 Sept. 2 win over then-No. 17 ranked TCU may be the start to Coach Prime proving he’s one of the best recruiters ever.

The Buffaloes ran up and down the field on the Horned Frogs in the win, racking up 565 yards of total offense. Most of that came from the arm of junior transfer quarterback Shedur Sanders, who passed for a school record 510 yards in the win, along with four touchdowns. Sanders, who came to Boulder from HBCU Jackson State with his coach father, was fantastic in the game. He showed poise in the pocket, went through all his progressions. Sanders completed nearly 81 percent of his 47 throws and ended the game with an average of nearly 11 yards a throw.

The younger Sanders sprayed the ball all over the field. Four Buffs wide receivers finished the game with more than 100 yards. Freshman running back Dylan Edwards led the way with 135 yards on five grabs and three touchdowns. Sophomore cornerback/wide receiver Travis Hunter, another Jackson State transfer, had 11 catches for 119 yards while also playing lockdown corner. Hunter in the game played 144 snaps, and recorded an interception in an unbelievable display of athleticism and awareness.

Sanders and Hunter are two of 51 transfers on the Colorado roster. That tops the list of 24/7sports transfer rankings, and is 20 more than No. 2 Arizona State. 

Coach Prime upon taking the Colorado job last December made it known that transfers would be a big part of this year’s team, after then Buffs went 1-11 last season and were the worst Power 5 team in the country.

Colorado’s win over TCU came with the Buffs as a 21-point underdog. That’s even with TCU not being near the team it was last season when the Frogs went to the national title game. TCU lost 11 starters from last year, and had a school-record eight players taken in the 2023 NFL Draft. Even with all that roster turnover, oddsmakers still believed the Frogs were three touchdowns better than the Buffs.

That’s why Deion, Shedur, and Hunter were so animated in the postgame. When you believe you can compete at any level, it hurts when you find some people who don’t believe. Getting the win on that stage, in front of a national TV audience, is just what that program needed. Colorado has finished above .500 three times since 2004. Since going 10-4 in 2016, the Buffs from 2017 to 2022 went 24-42. Any sign of life is good for that proud program that has produced great players and great moments.

The win pushed Colorado into the AP and Coaches’ Polls. The Buffs have been the talk of the college football world for three days.

But let’s pull the reins back a bit.

Colorado in the win gave up 541 yards of offense. TCU had a balanced attack, throwing for 279 yards and rushing for 262. The Buffs special teams weren’t particularly strong.  

The schedule is only going to get tougher. Colorado this week will face a much more stout defense when it takes on old Big 12 rival Nebraska in the Buffs’ home opener. The Huskers offense looked dreadful in a 13-10 Aug. 31 loss at Minnesota, but Nebraska’s defense looked solid. Colorado should win the Week 2 game, and should best in-state rival Colorado State in Week 3 to move to 3-0.

Then the fun starts. 

Colorado travels to Oregon on Sept. 23 and hosts USC on Sept. 30 in what I’m sure will be two primetime (no pun intended) matchups. Those should be highly-entertaining, high-scoring affairs. The Buffs will be tested by two strong quarterbacks (Oregon’s Bo Nix and USC reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams). Colorado’s defense will have to be strong in those games.

Three of the Buffs final five contests are at UCLA, home against Oregon State, and at Utah. All three have solid to really good quarterbacks. Utah plays the best defense of any PAC-12 teams.

A 7-5 finish may be seen as a disappointment to Coach Prime and his players. After the last handful of years, an above .500 finish may have Buffs’ fans thinking the team made the playoff. 

Strong showings the rest of the way could make believers out of the strongest skeptics, though.

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