BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Flashbacks of last week’s blowout at Oregon were coming about as fast as one of Caleb Williams’ six touchdown throws Saturday when the Colorado Buffaloes found themselves trailing eighth-ranked USC by a whopping 27 points just before halftime.
Not today, decided Buffs quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who outplayed his Heisman-winning counterpart the rest of the afternoon in a spirited comeback that only came up short in a 48-41 loss when Michael Jackson III recovered an onside kick with 1:43 left.
The Buffaloes were plumb out of timeouts and magic moments alike.
Proud papa Deion Sanders said everybody at Folsom Field and anyone watching at home knew “if we would have gotten that ball last we were going to go down there and score.”
Right after talking up Williams as a great quarterback, Sanders heaped equally effusive praise on his own kid, who shrugged off his best throw of the day, a touchdown toss to diving freshman Omarion Miller thorough the tightest of spaces on fourth down in the second half.
Shedeur Sanders finished with 371 yards and four touchdowns to go with 50 yards rushing, including a 25-yard scamper into the end zone just before halftime that sparked the comeback from a 34-7 deficit they came oh so close to completing.
“We just had to lock in and understand this was not going to be a recap of last weekend,” Shedeur Sanders said of Colorado’s 42-6 loss at Oregon, the Buffs’ first loss after a 3-0 start landed them in the epicenter of college football.
“He’s unflappable,” Sanders said. “And he’s very wise and understanding of what he sees out there in the field. He thinks a multitude of things through, but he’s a dynamic athlete and a dynamic young man.
“I’m proud to be his father — and his coach.”
Another slow start ultimately doomed the Buffs to a second straight loss without two-way star Travis Hunter (lacerated liver), who was joined in street clothes Saturday by Shedeur’s older brother, Shilo, a star defensive back who sustained a kidney injury against the Ducks.
Another blowout, this wasn’t. And they did make Williams sweat it out until the end despite watching him pile up points and yards early on his way to a 28-of-35 performance for 374 yards, six TDs and his first interception of the season — after throwing 21 touchdown passes.
Just as Miller stepped up on offense with 196 yards on seven catches — “It was crazy. I dream about playing like this last night.” — fellow freshman Cormani McClain, a five-star cornerback recruit, had a breakout game in responding resoundingly to Coach Prime’s admonition to hit the playbook as hard as he does receivers.
“Those two young men today what they did, they stepped out and kind of separated themselves from their yesterday,” Sanders said. “Their yesterday was terrible, but today they came out and established themselves. I’m proud of them.”
After their brutal two-week stretch, the Buffaloes (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12) visit Arizona State and host Stanford the next two weeks with a chance to get rolling again toward bowl eligibility, something that would only add to Sanders’ recruiting docket that’s filling up fast.
He’s promising his next class will include the beefy linemen to complement the stars he’s attracted at wide receiver and cornerback, like Miller and McClain.
“You’ve got to be crazy,” Sanders said, “if you can’t see the direction that we’re headed.”
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll