Naturally, Shedeur Sanders wore a hat and sunglasses after the game late Saturday night.
Perhaps that was the most predictable aspect of the weekend for the Colorado Buffaloes, in light of the comments made by Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell this past week.
It’s also becoming fairly predictable that Sanders, the Colorado Buffaloes’ dynamic junior quarterback, is going to have a significant impact on the outcome of CU’s games. So, it should come as no surprise that Sanders once again led CU to victory, 43-35 in double overtime over the in-state rival Rams at Folsom Field.
“This kid can flat out play,” CU head coach Deion Sanders said of his son. “Forget the name Sanders. The kid can flat out play this game.”
And, so it was that on a day where CU was in the national spotlight from sunrise to deep into the night, Shedeur Sanders played the role of hero, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns.
ESPN’s GameDay and Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff both set up shop and filmed their pregame shows in Boulder. The Rock was on hand. Lil Wayne performed live in the North end zone as the Buffs took the field. Among the other guests were Offset, Master P and Kawhi Leonard.
Yet, the most jaw-dropping moments of the day came from Shedeur, who saved the 18th-ranked Buffaloes from an embarrassing loss and delivered the victory.
“I’d already been there before (in a similar situation),” he said. “So, it’s like I’m not gonna be able to live with myself, honestly, on a loss like that. Like I know I wouldn’t be able to sleep. So I just didn’t want to go through that.”
Colorado (3-0) came into the game a 23.5-point favorite against the Rams (0-2), but trailed, 28-17, around the middle of the fourth quarter.
It was 28-20 when CSU punter Paddy Turner pinned the Buffs at their own 2-yard line with 2 minutes, 6 seconds to play.
“We do it in practice all the time, so it’s not really a shock or a surprise to it,” Shedeur said of the situation. “We like those high pressure moments. Like, that’s what we live in and I wish the whole game was just straight that honestly. That’s when I say we excel but really like in my own mind I was thinking, ‘Brady moment.’ He does it all the time and I’ve got to be able to do it.”
Shaking off a night filled with offensive struggles, Shedeur found Michael Harrison for 11 yards and then Tar’Varish Dawson for 18 yards. He found Xavier Weaver for 26 yards. And he capped the drive with a 45-yard touchdown strike to Jimmy Horn Jr.
In seven plays, Shedeur took the Buffs 98 yards in only 90 seconds to tie the game at 28-28.
The hat he wore after the game said “Legendary,” which was fitting, because his late-game performance was something Buff Nation won’t soon forget. He carved up the Rams’ defense as if he was Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or John Elway.
It was an instant classic in the renewal of the Rocky Mountain Showdown, which hadn’t been played since 2019 and which hadn’t been on either campus since 2009. And Shedeur played the starring role.
“Shedeur has been that,” Coach Prime said. “This is who he is. It don’t matter where he came from. That’s who that guy is. His passion and his study habits and his commitment to excellence, it shows every weekend. … People wait for him to fail, like he can’t keep this going. Yes he can because this is who he is.”
The Shedeur-engineered 98-yard drive sent the game to overtime. And in extra time, he threw two touchdown passes to Harrison to stun the Rams, who were the better team most of the night.
CU won the coin toss to start overtime and a lot of teams elect to start on defense so they can see what the opponent will do first. Coach Prime went against the norm, of course.
“When we went to the center of the field to talk about overtime, I told him we want the ball,” Coach Prime said. “I want you to have the ball. Most teams put the defense out first so you can see kind of what they do (on the other side). I want the offense out first. I want you to put pressure on them to get them out of their comfort zone. That’s kind of how it transpired.”
Most people projected a CU win, but not like this.
The Buffs were a heavy favorite against the Rams, who were blown out two weeks ago at home by Washington State.
The national media that descended upon Boulder all picked Coach Prime’s team to roll. But, the Rams came to Boulder with a chip on the shoulder and they didn’t back down.
“I’m just really proud of our team and our kids and the way that they competed,” Norvell said. “It was a really good football game for sure – one of the best college games I’ve ever been a part of. I give Colorado credit. They competed hard, as well, and came back.”
For Coach Prime and the new-look Buffs it was the third different type of win in three games.
CU won a shootout as a heavy underdog at TCU in Week 1. The Buffs routed rival Nebraska in Week 2. And, in Week 3, they took several punches from an unfazed underdog and stood their ground, fought back and relied on their unflappable quarterback.
“We showed that we would fight, we showed that we had no surrender or give up in us,” Coach Prime said. “That’s a lot for a team that’s fairly new.
“Resilience. I mean, the guys, shoot, had every opportunity in the world to give up. They had every opportunity in the world to give in and they didn’t. And they never doubted themselves on the sideline.
“It’s a great day for Colorado, it was a great day for the Buffalo fans.”