Deion Sanders’ Colorado tenure begins with a 45-42 upset win over No. 17 TCU

FORT WORTH, TX - SEPTEMBER 2: Head coach Deion Sanders of the Colorado Buffaloes takes the field before the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on September 2, 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Deion Sanders and Colorado are 1-0 after upsetting No. 17 TCU as a 20.5-point underdog. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

The Deion Sanders era at Colorado started with a massive upset.

The Buffaloes got a late fourth-down stop with 55 seconds left to hang on for a 45-42 win over No. 17 TCU in Fort Worth on Saturday. QB Shedeur Sanders — the son of the Pro Football Hall of Famer — set the Colorado single-game record for passing yards while two-way star Travis Hunter had 11 catches as a wide receiver and an interception as a defensive back.

“I’m so thankful right now … man I’m loving these kids,” Deion Sanders told Fox after the game. “Great joy for me to have this opportunity.”

Shedeur became the first player in Colorado history to throw for over 500 yards as he was 38-of-47 passing for 510 yards and threw four TDs. A lot of those yards came after the catch, but that doesn’t discount how well he threw the ball in his first game with the Buffaloes.

Hunter played over 100 snaps in his first game as a Colorado player. He started at both receiver and defensive back and led the team with 11 catches for 119 yards while Jimmy Horn Jr. had 11 catches for 117 yards.

Hunter’s interception was also massive. He made a great read on a throw from TCU’s Chandler Morris in the red zone as he made a diving catch. While Colorado went three-and-out and gave the ball right back to TCU after Hunter’s pick, it was the second time Morris had thrown an interception near the goal line.

Both Hunter and Shedeur Sanders came with Deion Sanders when the former NFL defensive back was hired by Colorado from Jackson State. One of the first players to commit to Colorado after it hired Sanders was four-star running back Dylan Edwards. And he had a massive game too. Edwards had five catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing six times for 24 yards and a TD.

Edwards had been committed to Notre Dame before he signed with Colorado in December. A Kansas native, Edwards was the No. 1 player in the state and the No. 3 all-purpose back in the class of 2023 according to Rivals.

Edwards’ fourth TD turned out to be the game-winner. He caught a pass in the flat from Sanders on fourth down and ran down the sideline for a 46-yard TD with 4:25 to go. That TD was the eighth of the second half as each team scored 14 points in the third and fourth quarters.

Colorado has top-end talent

There was no denying that Colorado added talent over the offseason. Sanders was hired to juice a moribund program and he did just that as dozens of new players arrived via the transfer portal and others weren’t retained.

But depth was — and may still be — a major question entering the season. Colorado’s top talent carried the day against the Horned Frogs, but it may be impossible to ask Hunter — the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2022 — to play over 100 snaps a game on offense and defense. That, however, is a problem to worry about later in the season. This was a Colorado team that entered Saturday as a three-touchdown underdog against a team that made the national title game a year ago.

TCU has work to do

The Horned Frogs were clearly caught off-guard right away by Colorado’s new uptempo offense under former Kent State coach Sean Lewis. And while the offensive line created massive holes for the running game against Colorado’s undersized defensive front, Morris’ two interceptions were extremely costly. As was a missed field goal by Griffin Kell.

Morris’ first interception came in the end zone as Colorado led 7-0 in the first quarter. He simply didn’t see safety Trevor Woods lurking as he tried to fire a TD pass over the middle.

Morris, who served as Max Duggan’s backup a season ago, finished the game 24-of-42 passing for 279 yards and two passing TDs to go along with the two interceptions. He also rushed for a TD in the second half.

Emani Bailey rushed for 165 yards on 14 carries thanks to an exceptional 74-yard run as TCU averaged over seven yards a carry. But the defense was consistently gashed by Colorado’s passing game and the Horned Frogs committed 10 penalties.

TCU entered the season needing to replace players like Duggan, RB Kendre Miller, WR Quentin Johnston, LB Dee Winters and DE Dylan Horton. That’s why the Horned Frogs began the season outside the top 15. And it’s clear that after the first game the TCU defense still has plenty of room for improvement while the offense doesn’t have a clear go-to receiver yet.

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