Colorado stuns TCU in Deion Sanders’ debut: Shedeur Sanders, Travis Hunter electric in win



Sanders

Colorado held on to upset No. 17 TCU in Deion Sanders’ FBS coaching debut Saturday, winning its season opener 45-42 in Fort Worth, Texas. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders, Deion’s son, threw for a school-record 510 passing yards in his debut start, going 38-for-47 with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
  • After TCU regained a 42-38 lead in the fourth quarter, Colorado’s Dylan Edwards converted a 46-yard touchdown on fourth-and-2 with 4:25 remaining, which held as the game-winning score.
  • Buffaloes wide receiver/defensive back Travis Hunter also shined, notching 119 receiving yards and a highlight-reel red zone interception.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

A strong first impression for Coach Prime, Buffaloes

For all the hype and buildup of Colorado this offseason, it was hard to know what to expect from the Buffaloes, who were 1-11 last season. Would they jell after Sanders’ extreme roster overhaul, which included more than 70 new players? That was answered emphatically, as Colorado played cleaner than TCU for significant stretches and particularly early in the ball game.

There has been intense curiosity about how Sanders’ experiment would work because no team has been constructed in this manner. If Saturday’s performance is emblematic of what’s to come, there’s no question it will work. Suddenly, the Buffs must be taken seriously in the Pac-12 this year. — Khan

A record-setting debut for Shedeur Sanders

Shedeur was masterful in setting a Colorado school record for passing yards in a starting debut. He was accurate, showed terrific touch on his deep balls, used his mobility to extend plays and has displayed great decision-making. He spread the ball around effectively to six receivers.

When the game was on the line, Shedeur didn’t blink. On a fourth-and-2 near midfield with seven minutes to go, he avoided pressure and hit the running back Edwards in stride for a 46-yard touchdown to give the Buffaloes a three-point lead. — Khan 

Two-way star Travis Hunter shines

Hunter, the former No. 1 overall recruit who followed Deion Sanders to Colorado from Jackson State, put on a show. He played the majority of snaps on both offense and defense and made a highlight-reel-worthy interception to thwart a TCU scoring drive.

Hunter finished with 11 receptions for 119 yards and came close to making two other highlight catches, a diving would-be touchdown reception that squirted out as he fell to the turf and another in which he was interfered with and had a foot come down out of bounds. — Khan

Hunter wasn’t just the best player on the field on Saturday, he’s the best-conditioned player in the sport. As the heat in Dallas crept toward triple digits on Saturday, Hunter’s playmaking increased in kind.

Hunter’s athletic gifts and ball-tracking skills make him a natural playmaker at receiver — and a threat for big gains anytime he’s covered one-on-one. The biggest surprise was his feel and football IQ in coverage, jumping routes and anticipating the timing of the quarterback, even when he’s in man coverage. How he and the Colorado staff plan to maintain this kind of pace throughout the season is to be seen, but the Heisman campaign will only grow from here — and today made it look more than justified. — Lee

TCU mistakes prove costly

The Horned Frogs, who had a miraculous run all the way to the College Football Playoff national championship game last season, made critical mistakes that came back to haunt them.

Quarterback Chandler Morris was picked off in the red zone twice and kicker Griffin Kell missed a 43-yard first-half field goal. Getting points on any of those instances could have changed the outcome.

Defensively, the Frogs were on their heels early, seemingly disrupted by Colorado’s pace. They ended up allowing 565 yards, 510 through the air. TCU was able to recover and get back into the game, but the defensive struggles combined with the red zone miscues were too much to overcome. — Khan

Highlights of the game

What they’re saying

“We told you we’re coming. You thought we was joking, but guess what? We keep receipts,” an emotional Deion Sanders said after the win. “I’m so thankful right now.”

Hunter said he was “not tired” and “ready to go back again.”

Backstory

Colorado hired Deion Sanders in December after he compiled a 27-6 record in three seasons at HBCU Jackson State. His extreme roster overhaul has created buzz and intrigue as he tries to improve a Buffaloes team that hasn’t won more than five games since 2016.

TCU returned 11 starters, including seven on defense, from its 2022 squad that reached the CFP title game and finished 13-2. The Horned Frogs entered Saturday at No. 17 in the preseason Associated Press poll, their highest preseason AP ranking since 2016, and were picked fifth in the preseason Big 12 media poll.

Required reading

(Photo: Matthew Pearce / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)





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