College Football Writer
What can Deion Sanders do for an encore?
We’ll find out today as his Colorado Buffaloes — ranked No. 22 after their stunning upset of TCU in Week 1 — are playing host to Matt Rhule’s Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Deion Sanders on Colorado, Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter
In addition to a matchup of coaches finding their way at new programs, this is also the latest edition in a classic rivalry that dates back to 1898, and both Sanders and Rhule are buying in.
“I’m embracing it 100%,” Sanders said Tuesday. “This is personal. That’s the message of the week.”
“When you have a legacy behind you,” Rhule said, “you have to live up to it and you have to build on it for the future.”
The coaches were ready for the big game, as were the players … and so was Ralphie!
Check below for everything to know about the matchup, plus live in-game analysis from FOX Sports’ Bryan Fischer!
Nebraska at No. 22 Colorado
5:31 1Q: Buffs slowed by mistakes
A little bit of everything for Colorado on its opening drive, but the penalties and mental mistakes are what will drive Deion Sanders up a wall. Credit to his quarterback for making some plays, as Shedeur Sanders made some impressive throws and used his legs effectively, especially one on third down to Travis Hunter early, but it just wasn’t enough to find some points. The Blackshirt defense is certainly looking to be quite physical with their opposite numbers in black shirts.
10:53 1Q: Nebraska’s drive stopped!
As expected, Nebraska is milking the clock and taking every snap down to under seven seconds on the play clock — their first eight plays covered just 38 yards but ended up taking 4:51 off the game clock. Still, the Cornhuskers’ opening drive ended in disaster as QB Jeff Sims simply dropped the snap, leading to a Colorado fumble recovery. Matt Rhule knows the signal-caller has the most upside of anybody on the roster behind center but at what point do these turnovers lead to a change?
Big Noon is once again Prime Time as Deion Sanders tries to lead Colorado to a 2-0 start in 2023 and a third straight win over vaunted rivals Nebraska for the first time since 1958. Just before kickoff arrives for Big Noon Saturday’s marquee matchup, here are four things to keep an eye on in the game:
— Nothing will determine the ultimate outcome in this contest more than the pace at which it’s played. Buffs offensive coordinator Sean Lewis loves to go as fast as possible to maximize the team’s skill position players (and minimize the time his offensive line has to keep a clean pocket) but you just know that new Cornhuskers coach Matt Rhule is going to want to make this a slog from start to finish. The visitors from the Big Ten are likely to revert to 1990s form by running the ball and then running it some more on top of playing some salty defense. That puts added pressure on CU to score as much as they can when it has the ball.
— The play of Jeff Sims remains critical to Nebraska’s chances on the road. He has the most career turnovers of any active Big Ten player and coughed up the ball down the stretch in the loss to Minnesota last week. He’s shown he can be a dangerous runner (19 carries in Week 1) but has to be more aware of defenders trying to take the ball away if his side is going to have a chance to make things interesting against the Buffs.
— Naturally, Travis Hunter’s snap count is going to be closely watched by just about everybody following that masterful two-way performance against TCU in the opener. It would be slightly unexpected if he matches the 145 snaps from last week, but you can probably see him make an oversized impact on offense and defense even if he’s not on the field as much for this one. The Cornhuskers’ receivers don’t have the ability to create much separation, so Colorado coaches could place a bit of a premium on Hunter playing more offensively to see if he can find the end zone a few more times with the ball in his hands.
— Quarterback Shedeur Sanders looked extremely poised against the Horned Frogs and thrived on finding the open receiver when pressured. He was 8-for-13 for 163 yards and two scores when TCU got to him last week and that could lead to the Blackshirts on the other side today playing a little less aggressive and dropping more players into coverage as a way to frustrate the young signal-caller. Sometimes that leads to impatient throws as you try to make something happen, so it will be interesting to see if Sanders can remain calm in the pocket even if his first few reads are covered.
What makes Coach Prime so good?
Jerry Jones, Leroy Butler, and more talk about Deion Sanders’ greatness
Two of Colorado’s stars chime in …
Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter speak on Deion Sanders
Here we go!
Coach Urban Meyer is joined by former Colorado QB Kordell Stewart and Michael Stewart to break down the Buff’s playbook.
Urban Meyer breaks down Shedeur Sanders’ play in Week 1
Be careful what you wish for!
Mark Ingram believes in the Buffs, do you?
Do you believe in Colorado? | Big Noon Kickoff
Even Snoop Dogg is getting in on the Colorado action.
‘We was made for this big stage’ — Snoop Dogg hypes up Colorado
Buff’s cornerback Travis Hunter is ready to go.
Former NFL star T.O. is in the building.
Coach Prime has arrived.
A throne fit for a “Prime Time” king.
It’s corny, and a little rude, but …
How it started vs. how it’s going in Colorado.
FOX analyst and former Colorado Buff Joel Klatt talks about being home and all the love from Buff fans!
What a start in Colorado!
Denver native and former NBA all-star Chauncey Billups is here for the “Prime Time” effect!
Colorado alum and NBA Champion Chauncey Billups discusses the ‘Prime’ effect
Buffs walk it out
Sanders leads his team through a sea of supportive fans ahead of today’s matchup.
FOX Sports’ Michael Cohen is on-site, documenting the huge day in Boulder.
PREGAME NUMBERS TO KNOW
510: Passing yards QB Shedeur Sanders had in his Colorado debut — the most in school history, and the most of any QB in their college football debut since 2000.
.824: Winning percentage for Colorado head coach Deion Sanders, through 34 games, which currently gives him the best winning percentage of any active head coach.
4: Touchdowns scored by Buffaloes RB Dylan Edwards in his debut — the first true freshman since Marlon Mack in 2014 to have that many in their debut.
181: Total rushing yards (on 37 carries) Nebraska had in Week 1 against Minnesota: QB Jeff Sims (91); RB Gabe Ervin Jr. (55); RB Anthony Grant (27).
3: Georgia Tech transfer Sims had three interceptions in his Nebraska debut, and one passing TD.
2-14: Nebraska’s record in one-score games over the last three seasons.
[More numbers to know for Week 2 games]
Week 2 wagering: Chris “The Bear” Fallica shares his predictions from all the top games, including Nebraska-Colorado. Read more.
Colorado’s players are receiving prime-time coaching: Much attention has been paid to the Colorado players who burst on the scene in Week 1, but FOX Sports’ Bryan Fischer explains why we shouldn’t overlook the coaching upgrade that Deion Sanders has brought to the Buffaloes. Read more.
Can Travis Hunter keep up this pace?: According to the University of Colorado, two-way star Travis Hunter played in 86% of his team’s snaps in the Buffs’ Week 1 win over TCU. Remarkably, both he and his coach Deion Sanders believe he can handle the workload as the season continues. “It’s fun,” Hunter said of pulling double duty. “It’s hard on your body, but that’s what you got treatment for.” Read the full story from Laken Litman.
Speaking of Hunter … How does Colorado’s multi-talented phenom compare to other two-way stars of the last 30 years? We break it down here, with a list that might be more extensive than you thought!
The Pac-12 is shockingly deep: FOX Sports analyst Joel Klatt explains why the Pac-12 is the deepest conference in the nation, primarily due to a collection of top-tier quarterbacks that spreads well beyond reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams. Read more.
Is Colorado about to showcase yet another breakout star?: NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang thinks so, and he explains who it could be while revealing the prospects scouts will zero in on in Week 2. Read more.
Talent evaluators chime in on Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter: What do the experts say about Colorado’s stars? RJ Young has the story.
Quinn Ewers is trying to find comfort outside his comfort zone: Outside the “Big Noon” slate, the biggest game Saturday will take place in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the No. 3 Crimson Tide play host to the No. 11 Texas Longhorns. For the Longhorns to take the next step on the national stage, their quarterback believes he needs to become a more vocal leader. Publicly, this does not appear to be a natural move for the talented QB, but behind the scenes, his teammates tell a different tale. FOX Sports’ Laken Litman has the story.
How good is Caleb Williams?: Heisman winners don’t always live up to the hype on the next level, but FOX Sports’ Bucky Brooks explains why USC’s star quarterback is primed to be an NFL star. Read more.
Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has been covering college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets such as NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and NFL.com among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.
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