FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — After nine months of hype, Deion Sanders had Colorado ready for prime time in his much-anticipated debut as Buffaloes coach.
Shedeur Sanders, the coach’s son, threw for a school-record 510 yards with four touchdowns — the game-winner a 46-yard catch-and-run by true freshman Dylan Edwards with 4:25 left —- and the Buffs pulled off an opening shocker with a 45-42 win Saturday over 17th-ranked TCU, last year’s national runner-up.
“A lot of you didn’t believe in us,” Shedeur Sanders said. “It’s crazy because you just got to understand our coach, Coach Prime, my dad, everywhere he went, he was a winner. Every game, every opportunity, he took advantage of.”
Deion Sanders came to Boulder, Colorado, to revitalize a long-dormant program, with an unprecedented roster flip.
Two-way star Travis Hunter, Edwards and Shedeur Sanders are among 87 newcomers at Colorado, which won only one game last season and has only two winning records since 2005.
Coach Prime, a two-time Super Bowl champion that included the last for the Dallas Cowboys 28 years ago, said when he first got the job he was coming to Colorado with luggage and it was Louis Vuitton.
Sanders practically named his son the starting quarterback before Shedeur even had a chance to enter the transfer portal, and was almost uncomfortably open about telling last year's CU players they should probably jump in, too.
Sanders' rebuild and a packed spring game at Folsom Field dominated the college football offseason.
But what would the team look like when the games started? Sanders already has a signature win as a three-touchdown underdog in his first game as a major college football coach.
“I’ve been talking about it and talking about it and you didn’t believe me,” he said.
Edwards caught three touchdown passes, including a 75-yarder in the opening minute of the second half when he turned another short pass into a big play. He also ran for another score.
Hunter, the former top recruit who came with the quarterback and coach from FCS school Jackson State, had 11 catches for 119 yards. As a defensive back, he had one of the two interceptions that TCU’s Chandler Morris threw in or near the end zone. He played over 120 snaps.
“They showed up. They were more ready to play than we were, think more excited to play, think they played harder,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “It seemed like they had more determination down the stretch than we did. So against that’s a real credit to them. I think their coaching staff, they really did a good job getting them ready to play."
Shedeur Sanders completed 38 of 47 passes and the Buffaloes had four 100-yard receivers for the first time ever: Hunter, Edwards (five catches, 135 yards), Jimmy Horn Jr. (11 catches, 117 yards with a TD) and Xavier Weaver (six catches, 118 yards). Colorado outgained TCU 565-541 total yards.
Morris was 24-of-42 passing for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Emani Baily ran for 165 yards. Trey Sanders had three TD runs, including a 1-yard run for a 42-38 lead two plays after Major Everhart’s 86-yard kickoff return.
Edwards' game-winning score came on a fourth-down play. He took a pass in the flats, made a slight hesitation and then raced down the sideline past the TCU defence.
TCU's final drive came to an end with a fourth-down stop around midfield, and Colorado, playing its final season in the Pac-12 before returning to the Big 12 to share a conference with the Horned Frogs, was able to run out the final minute.
Colorado didn't trail until Morris threw a 23-yard touchdown to Dylan Wright to put TCU up 28-24 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. But that was the first of six consecutive possessions when the two teams traded touchdowns until Edwards' final score.
The Horned Frogs had an undefeated regular season last year in Dykes' first season, and reached the College Football Playoff, beating Michigan in the semifinal game before a 65-7 loss to Georgia.
They have now lost three of their last four games, going back to the Big 12 championship against Kansas State.
“I told the guys afterwards, if we play like that this year, we’re not going to win many football games. So we’ve got to get a lot better,” Dykes said. “Thought our tackling was really, really bad defensively. We've got a lot of guys back, those guys have tackled. I don’t know what happened today that they couldn't tackle.”
RUNNING ONTO THE FIELD
Deion Sanders spent much of the summer getting around on a scooter with a protective boot covering his left foot after multiple surgeries to remove blood clots and address issues with his toes. He took off the boot this week, and led his team onto the field for the opener.
Asked how his foot felt after the game, the coach responded, “Not good, not good. But I’m thankful. And God gave me what I needed to finish. I’m thankful that I finished. That’s all we want to do is start and finish.”
Sanders occasionally sat on a folding chair on the sideline during the game.
Sanders got post-game treatment on his foot before addressing his team or the media. While in the training room, he got a visit from his sons: Shedeur and safety Shilo, who had 10 tackles.
“We had a dad moment. They were really happy, elated,” the coach said “I'm proud of both of them, I really am.”
Colorado: Six months after 50,000 people were at the spring game on a snowy April day, the Buffs play their home opener with Deion Sanders on Saturday against Nebraska (0-1) and new coach Matt Rhule. It’s only their third meeting since 2010, the last season both teams were in the Big 12 together.
TCU: The Frogs are home next Saturday night against FCS team Nicholls (0-1).
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll
Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press