Deion Sanders’ Colorado looks, acts and plays like Prime Time in win over Nebraska

BOULDER, Colo. — Shedeur Sanders hurled his body into the end zone, popped up and mimicked his father’s Prime Time dance. He tucked in his elbows and shuffled his legs to the right and left as a tribute.

“It’s in my blood,” he said later, arguing that he did it better than his father, who disagreed.

“It was horrible. It was horrible. He don’t kick the feet up,” Deion Sanders said. “He don’t want it.”

Shedeur, Colorado’s quarterback, strolled into a room of waiting reporters while clapping and wearing white and silver Balenciaga track sneakers that retail for around $1,100.

His father, Colorado’s coach, continued his tradition of being perhaps the only coach to field questions while wearing sunglasses, the look completed with a black blazer and white handkerchief with black polka dots. Both are choices born out of style far more than pragmatism.

The Wu-Tang Clan roamed the sidelines Saturday. So did NFL greats Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens, the latter of whom helped Shedeur warm up his arm during halftime. After each of Colorado’s four forced turnovers on the day, the key defender on the play made his way through a sea of humanity gathered on the sideline to take his place on the Turnover Throne.

Colorado is unabashedly flashy. It’s part of what makes it the most loved and hated team in college football despite playing just two games under Sanders. Saturday, though, in Colorado’s 36-14 shellacking of Nebraska, that flash gave way to a little bit of grit.

Colorado ran away from Nebraska in the second half to turn Deion Sanders’ home opener into a celebration. (Dustin Bradford / Getty Images)

Nebraska’s offense spent much of the first half coiled into tight power sets, intent on running at Colorado’s front. The Buffs held up, and after giving up 42 points in a win a week ago, they pitched a first-half shutout against the Huskers.

And when Nebraska quarterback Jeff Sims gifted them a possession or a few extra seconds, they capitalized.

Their first scoring drive went just 4 yards for three points after Sims fumbled. After Sims fumbled again, Shedeur Sanders needed just one play to find Tar’Varish Dawson Jr. for a 30-yard touchdown pass.

But when Sims sprinted 57 yards untouched to bring Nebraska’s deficit to six in the third quarter, Sanders and the Buffaloes offense needed 10 plays to answer, executing a 75-yard touchdown drive to stiff-arm Nebraska and calm any anxieties about a comeback in the Folsom Field crowd.

“We’re resilient,” Deion said. “We’re tough.”

A week earlier in Colorado’s season opener, TCU erased a double-digit deficit to take the lead late in the third quarter. Colorado answered with a 75-yard five-play touchdown drive. TCU took back the lead two more times in the fourth quarter. Colorado answered every time.

After Saturday, Sanders’ Buffaloes are 2-0.

“I truly appreciate going through this with my team so we know how to respond when adversity hits,” said Shedeur Sanders, who also called Nebraska’s coaches and players gathering on the Buffalo logo at midfield “extreme disrespect” and did his part to break it up in pregame.

Colorado is flashy, yes. But it’s shown through two weeks that a team willing to be flashy, loud and perpetually aggrieved can also be mentally tough.

“Everybody’s just regular people to me,” Shedeur Sanders said. “Me vs. them, I know I’m better.”

Colorado sounds and plays a lot like its coach did as a Pro Football Hall of Famer, and his message is getting through.

After Shedeur scooted, ducked, dodged and flung a highlight two-point conversion pass that replay later overturned, he was penalized 15 yards for removing his helmet and staring at the crowd as he celebrated. He came to the sideline to find his father steamed at the mistake, while also admitting it was a “Heisman-type play.”

“You cannot do that,” Sanders told his son.

“He said, ‘Dad, it’s personal.’”

All week, Deion had preached that message to his team ahead of the rivalry game, hoping it would sink in to a roster full of players with no personal connection to Colorado still learning the decades of history that made the Huskers hated. The bad blood still simmers when they renew a rivalry broken apart by conference realignment.

Deion said the mantra over and over, publicly and privately. He had coaches, players and special guests like Lil Wayne tell stories of times in their life when situations became “personal.”

Now, he found his son parroting back the message he’d imprinted on his team during the week. He could only laugh.

“This team hasn’t scratched the surface of what we’re capable of doing,” Sanders said.

The intense interest in Deion and his program’s revival isn’t going away. ESPN’s “College GameDay” announced plans to be in Boulder next week when the Buffaloes host Colorado State. Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff,” despite previously announcing plans to go to Penn State-Illinois, decided to host its pregame show at Colorado’s game for a third consecutive week and the second week in a row in Boulder, despite ESPN holding the broadcast rights for the 10 p.m. ET kickoff.

Win that game, and Colorado will head to Eugene, Ore., for a showdown with Pac-12 power Oregon and a chance to once again make people reassess what might be possible in year one of the Prime Era.

“They don’t tire. They don’t have a pity party,” Sanders said. “They’re really upset when they know it’s their fault and they made a mistake. … But they’re getting it. It’s only our second game in, but they’re getting closer and closer.”

 (Top photo of Shedeur Sanders: Ron Chenoy / USA Today)

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