After their record-breaking opening win last week, the #22 Colorado Buffaloes beat Nebraska Cornhuskers 36-14, moving to 2-0 on the 2023 season. The win comes at the first home game of the year for the Buffaloes and the first for head coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders in Boulder.
In a game that differed greatly from their win against TCU, the Colorado defense was the star of the show. The Buffaloes forced four Cornhusker turnovers, keeping them to only seven points for the majority of the game. University of Colorado Boulder quarterback Shedeur Sanders played another stellar game. The transfer from Jackson State finished with 393 yards and three total touchdowns, his main target being transfer receiver Xavier Weaver with 10 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown.
“We didn’t just want to win; we wanted to dominate,” Coach Sanders said after the game. “We wanted to really impose our will because the whole theme of the week was, ‘It’s personal.’”
Colorado has now won their last three games against their old rival Nebraska. In the history of the rivalry, Nebraska still has the favor over CU Boulder with the all-time record now set at 49-21-2. However, the last time Colorado lost to Nebraska was September 2010, and with a game scheduled for the same week next year, they hope to keep that streak alive.
Unlike last Saturday in Fort Worth, the game between the rivals started slow, with both teams exchanging punts and penalties, neither able to find any big plays in or near the endzone.
In the second quarter, however, after forcing a fumble deep in Nebraska territory, Colorado was able to open the scoring with a 31-yard field goal. Shortly after, Colorado safety Cam’Ron Silmon Craig was able to grab an interception, and Shedeur Sanders then threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tar’Varish Dawson Jr. The Buffaloes were also able to kick a field goal as the first half expired, putting them up 13-0 against their old rival.
“This week, I felt like it was personal for us,” said graduate transfer defensive end Taijh Alston. “As a defense, we just have to keep stacking good days.”
By the second half, the Buffaloes took the ball down 75 yards in three minutes. Shedeur Sanders threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Weaver, which put Colorado up 20-7 midway through the third quarter. In the second half, the Buffs had almost twice the amount of possession time as the Huskers, and their passing offense went for more than five times as many yards. In the fourth quarter, Sanders threw and ran for a touchdown, and though Nebraska scored on the final play of the game, Colorado was able to claim a dominant victory.
“I’m excited that we went through this and were able to stick together and put points on the board,” quarterback Shedeur Sanders said postgame. “The offense didn’t show up as early as the defense did, but it was good football. They had our backs.”
The great connection between Sanders and Weaver, Jimmy Horn Jr.’s eight catches for 64 yards, Travis Hunter’s three catches for 73 yards and Tar’Varish Dawson Jr.’s 49 total yards for two total touchdowns showed the potential of the Buffaloes as a top offensive team in the country.
“Our receiver core is great, you know. We got too many weapons on the field at once,” said receiver Xavier Weaver after his best game as a Buff. “We just had to get a feel of it, and once it started rolling, we didn’t stop.”
On the other side of the ball, CU Boulder’s defense was dominant all game. Transfers Omarion Cooper and Shilo Sanders combined 11 total tackles, and Cam’Ron Silmon Craig brought down a key interception in the second quarter. Unlike last week, defensive coordinator Charles Kelly and his players found a way to make more key stops, forcing four turnovers, directly leading to 16 Colorado points.
Though the storied rivalry might be the reason for Colorado coaches and players calling the game against Nebraska “personal,” an interaction before the game could have added fuel to that fire.
During pregame warm-ups, led by Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule, players gathered on the Buffalo logo in the middle of Folsom Field in front of the Colorado players warming up. Even with most of the Colorado roster being relatively new to Boulder, the Buffaloes took that as a sign of disrespect to them and the school.
“It’s okay if a couple players do it, but when you have the whole team trying to disrespect it, I’m not going for that at all, so I disrupted it,” Sanders said when asked about the interaction. “The coach said a lot of things about my Pops, about the program. I like playing against them, but the respect level wasn’t there because you disrespected us first.”
Colorado broke another record with 53,241 fans in attendance on Saturday, the largest number in 15 years, overcoming when the Texas Longhorns came to town in September 2008.
“To see that many people that came to see us perform — it was tremendous. Not just the number, but the energy, the love and the expectation. I love that,” Coach Sanders said after being asked about his first game at Folsom Field.
After their first 2-0 start in three years, there seems to be more attention on the Buffaloes than ever before. This weekend, Boulder will be hosting both ESPN’s College Gameday Show and FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff for a second straight week.
In an attempt to go 3-0 in the “Coach Prime Era,” CU Boulder will host another major rival, the Colorado State Rams, this weekend. The game will be at Folsom Field on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. MST and live on ESPN.
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