BOULDER, Colo. – Deion Sanders told the world last week that his Colorado Buffaloes won’t be as bad as they were last game against Oregon.
After one game, it looked like he made a mistake. The Buffs again stumbled early and trailed by 27 points in the first half.
But then came the magic: quarterback Shediur Sanders, his son, kept fighting. A new star was born in the second half. Colorado football then pulled within seven points in the final two minutes against No. 6 Southern California, 48-41.
“I’m so proud,” Sanders said after his team outscored USC 27-14 in the second half.
Ultimately, he said, it came down to one thing:
“What is our identity?” Sanders said. “I don’t know who we are. I don’t know what we’re going to do. From practice to practice, I do, but we have to translate (that) into games. So we’re still searching for our true identity.
The loss dropped Colorado to 3-2 after a 3-0 start to the season, followed by a 42-6 loss at Oregon last week.
For a while, this week looked like a replay of last week, with the Buffs facing another high-scoring heavyweight and trailing 35-0 at halftime. This time, Colorado trailed 34-7 late in the second quarter, and there were signs of life in front of a national television audience on Fox and another sellout crowd at Folsom Field (54,032).
As it turned out, USC quarterback Caleb Williams was too much for Colorado. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner threw four touchdown passes in the first half and finished six-of-40 for 403 yards with one interception for the Trojans (5-0).
“That kid is a flat bowler,” Sanders said.
A late onside kick attempt for Colorado failed before USC allowed the clock to run out as Sanders’ son, Shediur, quarterbacked. The last Colorado touchdown came with 1:43 left, when Schedure Sanders found receiver Jimmy Horne down the middle of the field for a 16-yard touchdown pass.
“We can’t get bored with the easy stuff,” Shedeur Sanders said. “We had to lock in and understand, look, this is not going to be a repeat of last week.”
And that’s not in large part because a new star has emerged for Colorado — freshman receiver Omarion Miller. He finished with seven catches for 196 yards and a touchdown, a 9-yard reception on fourth-and-5 for a new school record. The latter play took vision and precision from Shediur Sanders, who rolled to his right and found himself behind a USC defender as Miller slid downfield. That helped cut USC’s lead to 48-34 with 11:55 left.
Who is Omarion Miller?
Miller is a four-star recruit from Vivian, Louisiana, a small town in the northwest part of the state. Before the second half of Saturday’s game, he had never passed in college. Now he’s a budding star getting love from Michael Irvin, former Dallas Cowboys star receiver and friend of Deion Sanders.
“It’s crazy,” Miller said. “Last night I dreamed about playing like this.”
Later, even Sanders expressed surprise at Miller’s performance. Miller didn’t play much before Saturday because he didn’t show it in practice, Sanders said.
“I don’t think we’ll get that from Miller,” Sanders said. “I haven’t seen it yet.”
Shedior Sanders had to remind reporters how to spell his teammate’s name. According to the quarterback, it’s O-mar-ee-on. And his first collegiate catch was a 65-yarder in the third quarter that sparked Colorado’s eventual scoring drive after trailing 41-14.
“Everybody, this is my man Omarion,” said Shediur Sanders, who completed 30 of 45 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
Miller will play three more seasons after this. Shediur Sanders has one more year in Colorado in 2024.
“If you can’t see what’s coming in CU football, you’re out of your mind, you’re a flat-out hater,” Deion Sanders said. “If you can’t see what’s going on, what’s going to happen in the next few months, there’s something wrong with you.”
What happened after half time?
It didn’t help that Colorado faced Williams without three of its best players in its defensive backfield due to injuries — star cornerback receiver Travis Hunter, starting safety Shiloh Sanders and Myles Slusher, a defensive transfer from Arkansas.
“No excuses, but three short, three starters in the secondary,” Deion Sanders said.
This pressured safety Roderick Ward into more extensive action. Ward, a graduate transfer from Southern Utah, had only recorded three tackles before Saturday. He finished with nine total tackles Saturday and said the Buffs “calmed down” after halftime and “had their eyes in the right place.”
Colorado’s defensive back limited USC’s yards per play from 10.1 in the first half to 5.2 in the second half.
Offensively, Colorado outgained USC 564-498 yards overall behind its strong finish behind Shediur Sanders. He led the Buffs to touchdowns on four of their last five possessions, recalling his first game for Colorado on Sept. 2 when the Buffs beat TCU 45-42.
“Today we got a glimpse of who our identity is when we play good football,” Shedeur Sanders said. “From our week, you know, we haven’t really tasted it until then. No matter what, no matter what happens, we know we have to go out there and score every drive. That’s where I feel like we got our mindset in the second half.
Deion Sanders describes his team’s progress
“Coach Prime” pointed out that his team didn’t need a halftime speech to shine in the second half.
“I don’t have time to blow you away and give you the most intellectually powerful speech I can create and use some real words that I look up in my vocabulary and … thesaurus,” Deion Sanders said. “I didn’t have time for that today. I wanted them to come out. I wanted them to lift me up, you know, encourage me, motivate me, not that I needed to. But I wanted to flip the script on them because what’s in them I know, and all they have to do is believe. And regardless of the color of the opposing team’s uniform, they have to believe. That’s something they’ve been doing, week in and week out. It’s growing.”
He wants his team to be what he ultimately wants to be. He didn’t see Saturday.
“The team I envisioned is going to play four solid quarters, be really physical, really tough and determined, and make our mark and make an impact not only on the opposing team, but on the coaches and our fan base,” he said. said. “That’s what we want to do.”
Is it a moral victory?
Both Schedure and Deion Sanders were asked about this. Do you believe in moral victories?
“I don’t know what it is,” Shedeur Sanders said.
It’s still a program that finished 1-11 last year and then overhauled its roster under Deion Sanders, leaving several players off last year’s team while bringing in 68 scholarship freshmen to the roster’s 85-man roster limit.
Sanders said he didn’t believe in such a thing, but expressed pride in his team, saying, “It was fun.”
Many more celebrities and famous ex-athletes came out again this time. Rapper Dababy was here. Also present were NBA legends Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and 892 credentialed media members.
Shediur Sanders congratulated Caleb Williams, the game’s biggest star, after the game.
“Dion and that group brought a lot of energy to Colorado, which was great,” Williams said. “We love going on the road. There’s something about going on the road. It wakes you up early in the morning and you can’t sleep at night. It’s fun. It’s exciting. They did a great job, like I said, it’s fun, but we came out with a win, and that’s the most important thing. .
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