“Shout” is a column by Matthew Andrade about college football.
Down 11 points in the third quarter and in front of a sold-out home crowd, Colorado was on the brink of having its season come crashing down in disastrous fashion.
Lil Wayne had made his way to Boulder. The Rock was in the house. Every celebrity who wasn’t there was still tweeting about the game from the comfort of their own couch. Folsom Field was the center of the sports universe Saturday night.
And then, the Buffaloes broke through to survive in double overtime by way of an 18-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Shedeur Sanders. Students rush the field. You can’t even see the most recognizable man in college sports — Colorado head coach Deion Sanders — in the midst of the madness.
What a win! What a game!
Not so fast, my friend. If you scrolled through social media after this game, you’d find plenty of people talking about how incredible the game was or how great of a job Deion Sanders is doing at Colorado. But you’d also find plenty of people criticizing the Buffs for struggling against Colorado State.
These people want to say Colorado’s story isn’t impressive. After all, how can this team not put away a lowly Mountain West program?
To these people, I’d like to ask several questions but top of mind is, did you watch any Colorado football last year?
That answer must be no. And that’s understandable — this program went 1-11 last year! Colorado was so bad in 2022 that the Buffaloes had a point differential of -349 — the equivalent of losing every game by more than 29 points. That’s no better than how an FCS team would do given Colorado’s schedule.
Colorado didn’t just struggle last year either — look at the program’s 10-year tenure in the Pac-12. The Buffaloes have gone to a whopping two bowl games in that entire stretch. That’s a number you can count to with just a USC victory sign, which reminds me that I should mention USC is a perfect 16-0 all time against Colorado.
Save for the 90s and a couple of other seasons sprinkled throughout Colorado’s history, this is just not a football program that has gained any traction at all over its lifespan. Sure, there’s a national championship banner waving in Boulder, but success has been incredibly hard to come by for Colorado. It’s just the truth.
What Deion Sanders is doing at Colorado is incredible. It really is. This program is actually being talked about at the national level and not just to be made fun of as the Pac-12′s resident doormat. Last week, College Gameday made its way to Boulder for the first time since before Lee Corso even made headgear picks. Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff set up shop across campus to compete with Gameday, and both crowds were packed. Heck, even 60 Minutes did a feature on Deion that aired Sunday night.
All of that is a success on its own. Making Colorado a program worth talking about was a tall enough task without factoring in the actual goal of the whole thing — to win football games. But that hasn’t been the challenge we once thought it would be, either.
The Buffs pulled out a gritty win in a tough road environment at TCU in Week 1, stormed past Nebraska for a convincing 22-point victory in Week 2, and, yes, had to force double overtime to take down Colorado State in Week 3. But if you’re not keeping that in perspective, you’re doing Deion a massive disservice. Colorado’s lone non-Power 5 opponent last year, Air Force, beat Colorado by 31 points.
I don’t care how bad Colorado State is supposed to be. They could practically be a pee wee football team for all I care. Heading into the season, I thought Colorado would be lucky to get to 2-1 through three weeks. Now they’re 3-0 and they look like they could give a lot of teams fits.
No one expected Deion to take Colorado to the College Football Playoff in year one. Everyone was excited to see what his team would look like, but no one said the Buffaloes were a legit threat to win much of anything.
Now, I’d be surprised if Colorado doesn’t get to six wins. If you’ve been taking notes, you’d realize that would mark just the third bowl berth for Colorado in its Pac-12 era. That’s in Deion’s first year and after taking over a 1-11 program.
If you still can’t find Colorado’s turnaround impressive, you may be living under a boulder larger than the city. This program was an afterthought and is now the epicenter of the college football universe, as a result of what’s happening on the field and off.
What Deion Sanders is doing will likely never be replicated ever again and is the most captivating story in all of sports. So the least you could do is give him his theme music.
“Shout” runs every Tuesday.