Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders would not let his team lose.
The Buffs trailed in-state rival Colorado State by 11 points with under eight minutes to play, but Sanders led the team all the way back to force overtime. And in double-overtime, Colorado was able to prevail 43-35 on Sanders’ touchdown pass to Michael Harrison and a subsequent two-point conversion connection with Xavier Weaver.
But before those extra sessions, Colorado needed a 98-yard drive just to tie the game.
Colorado State pinned the Buffs at their own 2-yard line with 2:06 to play, but Sanders and his offense were able to embark on a miraculous drive to keep the game alive.
Sanders led the Buffs all the way to the end zone in just seven plays, connecting with Jimmy Horn for a thrilling 45-yard touchdown with just 36 seconds left in regulation.
But the 18th-ranked Buffs still needed a two-point conversion to tie it. No problem. Sanders dropped back and connected with Harrison, his tight end, to tie the score at 28-28 and ultimately send the game to overtime.
Once the game reached the extra session, Deion Sanders’ Buffs were able to complete the comeback and stay undefeated. The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime before Sanders connected with Harrison again to put the Buffs ahead in double-overtime. Sanders then made an incredible play to fight through the CSU rush to find Weaver for the two-point conversion.
Sanders’ gutsy plays proved to be the game-winner. Once Colorado State got its turn on offense in double overtime, the much-maligned Buffaloes’ defense made a play — but only after the Rams committed their 16th penalty of the night.
Three plays later, Colorado finally sealed an improbable victory with an interception by safety Trevor Woods.
Woods’ play capped off an incredible comeback for the Buffaloes, who trailed 28-17 with under eight minutes to play. Colorado State had the lead for much of the evening, but it wasn’t enough to put Colorado away.
Things looked bleak for Colorado
Colorado exhibited a high-powered offense through its first two games, but CSU kept the Buffs in check for much of the night.
Colorado actually opened the scoring on a 80-yard interception return touchdown by Shilo Sanders, but CSU controlled play for a significant portion of the game. The Rams first tied the score with a trick play as Horton found Dallin Holker behind the defense for a touchdown. And on the ensuing drive, CSU responded with a defensive touchdown of its own.
Travis Hunter, Colorado’s two-way star, had the ball jarred loose after he caught a short pass. CSU’s Ron Hardge III scooped up the loose ball and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown, giving CSU a 14-7 lead in front of the shell-shocked fans in Boulder.
Colorado tied things up a few minutes later when Sanders found Weaver for a 24-yard touchdown, but that would mark CU’s only trip to the end zone until the final minute of regulation.
Before halftime, Colorado State took a 21-14 lead as Rams receiver Louis Brown imitated Deion Sanders’ famous end zone celebration from his playing days and then pointed to his watch just like Shedeur did last week before the win over Nebraska.
Colorado State had its share of mistakes that kept it from adding onto the lead. There was a blocked field goal and two turnovers, including a Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi interception that led to a Colorado field goal that cut the CSU lead to 21-17.
Later in the third quarter, however, Fowler-Nicolosi and Holker made another big play as Fowler-Nicolosi somehow hit Holker in stride for a 35-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 28-17 lead with 11:22 to play.
But Shedeur Sanders and the Buffs would not surrender. CU tacked on a field goal, got a stop and then put together that remarkable 98-yard drive to tie the game.
And ultimately, after two overtimes, Colorado was able to improve to 3-0 in Deion Sanders’ debut season.
Colorado now 3-0 entering Pac-12 play
This was supposed to be a walk in the park for Colorado before it entered Pac-12 play. It was anything but that.
Sanders, the larger-than-life Pro Football Hall of Famer, has brought new life to a Colorado program that won just one game a year ago. He completely overhauled the roster and the Buffs were able to beat TCU and Nebraska in his first two games after coming over to Boulder from Jackson State.
Though it’s an in-state rivalry, the Colorado State game initially was not generating the hype that the first two games did. But that changed midweek when Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell made headlines with his comments about Sanders.
In reference to Sanders wearing sunglasses, Norvell said he takes off his glasses and hat when he “talks to grown-ups.” Sanders did not take kindly to the comment, and called the rivalry game with CSU “personal.”
In the early going, the animosity was obvious with personal foul penalties being called left and right. That included a cheap shot hit on Hunter from CSU safety Henry Blackburn.
Hunter briefly returned to the game after the hit, but was ultimately sent to a local hospital. His absence was felt. Hunter is a lockdown cornerback and one of CU’s top offensive threats. With Hunter sidelined, Colorado State found mis-matches to exploit while also aggressively going after Shedeur Sanders and his overmatched offensive line.
There were flashes of Colorado’s deficiencies through two weeks, and Colorado State was in attack mode — especially on defense. But that changed in the final minutes. The Rams sat in coverage, and Sanders was able to pick CSU apart and ultimately win the game in dramatic fashion.
Sanders finished the game with 348 yards and four touchdowns through the air. Weaver led the way with nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown, but it was Harrison and Horn who came up in the clutch down the stretch. Harrison caught both overtime touchdowns and finished the night with seven catches for 76 yards. Horn had seven receptions for 66 yards and that pivotal final-minute touchdown.
Colorado State actually outgained Colorado 498 yards to 418, but had four costly turnovers and a whopping 16 penalties for 176 yards.
Colorado, now 3-0, will turn the page to Pac-12 play. Things begin with a trip to No. 13 Oregon next weekend before No. 5 USC visits Boulder on Sept. 30. The Ducks and Trojans will represent a major step up in competition.