Sep 9, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Travis Hunter (12) following the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Deion Sanders: ‘Tremendous chance’ Travis Hunter returns vs. Stanford

Colorado two-way star Travis Hunter is closer than ever to returning to game action after suffering a lacerated liver Sept. 16.

Colorado (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) hosts Stanford on Friday night before a bye week.

“There’s a tremendous chance he could play,” Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders told reporters Tuesday. “It goes by how he looks, how he performs in practice, how his wind is. … He has to be in shape. I don’t want him to be a liability. I want him always to be a tremendous asset.”

Sanders previously said it was his “dream and desire” that Hunter stayed out until after the bye week, but Hunter has been persistent.

“He came to me (Monday) morning saying, ‘What more can I do to help us get to the point that we need to get to?’” Sanders said. “So I love the team aspect of Travis 100 percent. I hope he can play.”

Sanders added that Hunter will be wearing “protection” around the liver area.

Hunter suffered the injury during the Buffaloes’ 43-35 double-overtime win over Colorado State on Sept. 16. The wide receiver/defensive back took a tough late hit at the sideline from Rams safety Henry Blackburn and hasn’t played since.

A former five-star high school recruit, Hunter plays wide receiver and cornerback for Sanders at Colorado after following the coach there from Jackson State. In the first three games of 2023, Hunter had 16 catches for 233 yards on offense and one interception, two pass breakups and nine tackles on defense.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Trenton Bourguet (16) is sacked by Colorado Buffaloes defensive end Arden Walker (53) in the second half at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado seeks return to dominance, welcomes Stanford to town

Colorado has recently taken a dip after a magical 3-0 start, but the Buffaloes have a chance to rediscover their prowess when they face hapless Stanford in Pac-12 play on Friday night in Boulder, Colo.

While Colorado ended an eight-game Pac-12 losing streak with last Saturday’s 27-24 win at Arizona State, the Cardinal (1-4, 0-3 Pac-12) have dropped 17 of their past 18 conference games, including seven straight.

Stanford is coming off a bye after losing its previous four contests.

Colorado (4-2, 1-2) lost to then-No. 10 Oregon and then-No. 8 Southern California in back-to-back weeks before escaping with a victory against the Sun Devils thanks to Alejandro Mata’s 43-yard field goal with 12 seconds left.

Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders was highly irritated with his team’s performance.

“I’m happy about the win but I’m not happy in the fashion that we won it in,” the man known as Coach Prime said. “We’re better than that. We really are better than that, and we got to start showing that. …

“I’m sick of these consistent holes that we’re displaying and the penalties and the things that we’re doing. We’re so much better. I apologize for my anger … but I don’t accept mediocrity.”

Some good news for the Buffaloes came Monday when two-way standout Travis Hunter practiced for the first time since sustaining a lacerated liver during a victory over Colorado State on Sept. 16.

Quarterback Shedeur Sanders continues to thrive and has completed 72.7 percent of his passes this season for 2,020 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Prior to the bye, Stanford was annihilated 42-6 by then-No. 9 Oregon when the Ducks had a 506-222 advantage in total offense.

“They’re explosive obviously,” Cardinal first-year coach Troy Taylor said. “Our defense did a really good job in the first half. You put an explosive offense on the field that much, they will make plays.”

Stanford’s lone win came in its season opener against Hawaii. The Cardinal also lost to FCS foe Sacramento State — Taylor’s former program — to start a streak of three consecutive home setbacks.

While the defense is allowing 34.6 points per game, the offense is averaging just 19.2 behind inconsistent quarterback play.

Ashton Daniels is completing 60 percent of his passes for 561 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, while Justin Lamson has a 49.2 percent accuracy rate while throwing for 413 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

Outside linebacker David Bailey leads the defense with four sacks.

Colorado has won the past three meetings between the teams after Stanford prevailed in the previous five.

–Field Level Media

USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) throws a pass against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the first half at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Sept. 23, 2023.

Colorado faces another high-scoring test when No. 8 USC visits

Colorado was just shellacked by one Top 10 team, and another is on its way on the rigorous Pac-12 schedule.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and No. 8 Southern California arrive as the next test for the Buffaloes on Saturday in Boulder, Colo.

The Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) lead the nation in scoring offense at 55 points per game and are looking to pin another defeat on the Buffaloes (3-1, 0-1), who were routed 42-6 at then-No. 10 Oregon last weekend.

And Williams is playing like he wants to join Ohio State legend Archie Griffin (1974-75) as the lone two-time Heisman winners. He has completed 74.3 percent of his passes for 1,200 yards, 15 touchdowns and no interceptions. He has also rushed for three touchdowns.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders, a Hall of Fame cornerback at both the college and pro levels, was asked what he liked about Williams.

“Everything. The kid is a playmaker,” the man known as Coach Prime said. “He deserved the Heisman Trophy a year ago. … He makes plays. He makes that team go. He’s a handful.”

Williams was intercepted just five times in 500 passing attempts last season. The offseason goal was to see Williams become even more efficient with intermediate and deep throws.

So far, so good — Williams has been pick-free in 101 attempts.

“I for sure worked on it,” Williams said. “I thought I was pretty efficient last year, but this year … when you have those moments, and you have those big plays that come up, you want to be able to execute and capitalize in those moments. And we’ve been able to do that so far.”

Williams passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores in last weekend’s 42-28 road victory over Arizona State. A sluggish effort on defense led USC to drop three spots in the rankings.

The Trojans rank third in total offense (569.2 yards per game) and are also getting strong production from running back MarShawn Lloyd (349 yards, two touchdowns) and receivers Brenden Rice (12 catches, 257 yards, five touchdowns) and Tahj Washington (10-278-four).

Colorado, which is 0-16 all-time against USC, figures to have its hands full on defense.

The Buffaloes will be without two-way star Travis Hunter (lacerated liver) for the second straight game. Hunter’s strong play as a cornerback will definitely be missed against the Trojans’ high-powered passing game.

Safety Shilo Sanders is questionable, though his father, Deion, remains hopeful. When the team returned to Boulder after the loss to Oregon, Shilo Sanders was transported to a hospital because he was urinating blood.

“He’s doing much better,” Deion Sanders said Tuesday. “We’re praying that he heals and he’s playing this weekend. He’s a valuable part of our secondary and our team defensively.”

Offensively, quarterback Shedeur Sanders was sacked seven times against Oregon and has been dropped 22 times in four games. He passed for a season-low 159 yards after topping 300 in each of the first three games.

The offensive line has also struggled to help get the running game moving. The Buffaloes are last in the nation in both rushing offense (55.8 ypg) and yards per carry (1.91).

Troubles or not, USC coach Lincoln Riley has been paying attention to the early-season Colorado rise under Coach Prime. He said last week’s tough time in Eugene has nothing to do with what goes on this Saturday in Boulder.

“Whether (Colorado) won by a lot, lost by a lot, or anything in between, we’re gonna see a good football team at their home and those are always a challenge,” Riley said.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes safety Shilo Sanders (21) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Colorado State Rams at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado safety Shilo Sanders went to ER after Oregon game

Colorado safety Shilo Sanders, the son of coach Deion Sanders, had to be taken to the emergency room with an undisclosed injury after the Buffaloes’ 42-6 loss to Oregon on Saturday.

In a video released on YouTube by his brother Deion Sanders Jr., Shilo Sanders was seen coming off the team plane and saying that he was “peeing blood.”

Asked if he was all right, Shilo Sanders replied, “Nah, I made a tackle and I landed on my kidney or something bro, so I gotta go to the ER and get checked.”

On Tuesday, Deion Sanders told reporters his son was improving. Colorado is preparing for another Pac-12 game against a ranked opponent this Saturday, this time No. 8 Southern California in Boulder, Colo.

“We went to the hospital right after we landed,” Deion Sanders said. “He’s doing much better. We’re praying that he heals and he’s playing this weekend. He’s a valuable part of our secondary and our team defensively.”

In four games this season, Shilo Sanders has 26 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception he returned for a touchdown against Colorado State.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Travis Hunter (12) following the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Deion Sanders says no Travis Hunter for Colorado vs. No. 8 USC

Colorado two-way star Travis Hunter will not play this Saturday’s home game against No. 8 Southern California as he recovers from a lacerated liver.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders — in a video posted online Monday on his son’s YouTube channel — told his players that Hunter texted him saying he needed to play this week after missing Colorado’s 42-6 loss to Oregon.

“We need to get everything we can so I can get back on the field. I’m not taking no for an answer,” Hunter purportedly told Sanders.

Sanders then told his team how he responded:

“No, you ain’t ready and I care about you more than I care about this game. You’re going to change the game of football one day when you get healthy and ready. Your future is brighter than mine ever will be and ever was. Relax and get healthy. I love you, son.”

Hunter was injured Sept. 16 when Colorado State’s Henry Blackburn laid an illegal hit on him along the sideline.

A former five-star high school recruit, Hunter plays wide receiver and cornerback for Sanders at Colorado after following the coach there from Jackson State. In the first three games of 2023, Hunter had 16 catches for 233 yards on offense and one interception, two pass breakups and nine tackles on defense.

After the Buffaloes’ lopsided loss at Oregon, unbeaten USC is a 21.5-point favorite against Colorado at BetMGM and FanDuel Sportsbook.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) scrambles in double overtime against the Colorado State Rams at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Oregon is Deion Sanders’ first Pac-12 test with No. 19 Buffs

The atmosphere will be tense when No. 19 Colorado faces No. 10 Oregon in Eugene on Saturday, revolving around the Buffaloes’ decision to bolt the Pac-12 for the Big 12 following this season.

The Buffaloes went 1-11 last season as the dregs of the Pac-12 and Oregon coach Jim Lanning pulled no punches when asked about Colorado’s departure.

“Not a big reaction,” Lanning said at Oregon’s preseason media day. “I’m trying to remember what they won to affect this conference. I don’t remember. Do you remember them winning anything? I don’t remember them winning anything.”

First-year Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders was irked by the comments. Now the two coaches will be sharing the field in a highly anticipated showdown between two 3-0 teams.

While Sanders uses the comments as bulletin board material, Lanning said during Monday’s press conference that he doesn’t need to revise his comments.

“I don’t regret anything I’ve said,” Lanning said. “At the end of the day, I wasn’t talking about Deion’s team, I was talking about the past and future for our team. But if that serves as material for them, great. I don’t think it’s going to have any bearing on the game or the success of the game.”

During Tuesday’s press conference, Sanders played nice and was highly complimentary of Lanning, who went 10-3 last season in his first year with the Ducks.

“What he’s accomplished, stepping in, taking over a program and keeping it not only rocking steady but accelerating it,” Sanders said. “I respect the heck out of him. I love what he’s accomplishing. I love the way he operates. So I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

Colorado had a scare last Saturday night as it had to rally from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit to record a 43-35 double-overtime victory over Colorado State.

Quarterback Shedeur Sanders led the Buffaloes on a late 98-yard drive for touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion with 36 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Shedeur Sanders passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

But in the first quarter, two-way standout Travis Hunter was drilled in the midsection by Colorado State safety Henry Blackburn. Hunter eventually exited the game and spent two nights in a Boulder hospital due to a lacerated liver.

Hunter is expected to miss multiple weeks, leaving a void at both receiver and cornerback.

“No one in the country can fill Travis Hunter’s shoes,” Deion Sanders said. “He’s one of a kind. He’s the best player on offense, the best player on defense. That’s just who he is in the country, not just on his team.”

While Colorado is averaging 41.3 points, it allows 30.3 and the defensive unit could have issues corralling the Ducks.

Oregon ranks second in scoring offense at 58 points per game and is coming off a 55-10 trouncing of visiting Hawaii.

Bo Nix is completing 77.6 percent of his passes for 893 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. For comparison, Shedeur Sanders is completing 78.7 percent of his passes for 1,251 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception.

Oregon’s Troy Franklin has 17 receptions for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Bucky Irving (8.0 average, three TDs) and Jordan James (7.4, five) have combined for eight rushing scores.

The Ducks are also stout defensively, allowing 15.7 points and 158.7 passing yards per game. The latter ranks 15th nationally.

Of course, stats are secondary in this matchup.

“I’d be a fool not to recognize all of the success they have created on a team that didn’t have a lot of success before,” Lanning said of Sanders. “He’s done a phenomenal job … They are winning games. It doesn’t matter how but they’re winning games.”

The Ducks have won nine of the past 10 meetings.

–Field Level Media

Apr 22, 2023; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders hits the field before the start of the spring game at Folsom Filed. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Amazon film series to document Deion Sanders’ first season at Colorado

The University of Colorado and Deion Sanders’ business manager have agreed on a contract for a documentary series about the football team’s first-year head coach to be shown on Amazon Prime, USA Today reported.

Colorado will not be compensated by SMAC Productions, which is co-founded along with SMAC Entertainment by Sanders’ business manager, Constance Schwartz-Morini. Instead, the university feels it will benefit from publicity and other advantages for the Boulder campus.

“The exposure of hiring Coach Prime (Sanders) has already paid dividends in the form of record-breaking ticket and merchandise sales, and we are confident the documentary will only increase these ‘Prime Effect’ impacts throughout the university,” Colorado spokesman Steve Hurlbert told USA Today.

Hurlbert confirmed that Colorado did not ask for financial compensation, unlike similar arrangements for other college programs such as Michigan football, which was paid $2.25 million for access and licensing for a 2017 show on Amazon, according to the report. Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari received $1 million from the producers of a docuseries about the program, and he said he donated it to charity.

The contract, according to the report, gives SMAC Productions wide access and calls for weekly meetings with the Colorado athletic director or his representatives with consultation about the content of each episode. The producers also have some dramatic license with the storytelling “to enhance the dramatic value of the Series,” according to the contract, without misrepresenting or defaming Colorado or its individuals.

Hurlbert said there has been a “positive, collaborative working partnership between SMAC and CU Boulder on this project.”

The Buffaloes’ first game is Sept. 2 at TCU. The contract calls for access to filming through the 2023 season and program activities up to and including the team banquet.

Additional seasons of the series would be negotiated with Colorado.

SMAC produced a four-part series on Sanders’ final season as the head coach of Jackson State in 2022, which streamed on Amazon.

The Buffaloes went 1-11 last season before hiring Sanders. Now, not only has the program garnered more attention, but season tickets have sold out for the first time since 1996, USA Today reported. The spring football game sold out for the first time, period.

“This documentary gives an unprecedented look at one of the highest-profile college coaching jobs in America,” a spokesperson for SMAC Entertainment said in a statement to USA Today Sports. “The access and participation from the school and the students will showcase real-time moments of turning a football program around while bringing global exposure to the University of Colorado.”

SMAC Entertainment manages Sanders and his two sons on the team, Shedeur and Shilo, as well as cornerback/receiver Travis Hunter. Sam Morini, Schwartz-Marini’s nephew, is a SMAC employee and Deion Sanders’ day-to-day manager.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Owen McCown (7) scrambles in the second quarter against the California Golden Bears at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado QB Owen McCown enters portal following Sanders hire

One day after new coach Deion Sanders made clear who his starting quarterback would be in his first season at Colorado, incumbent quarterback Owen McCown entered the transfer portal on Monday.

McCown played in four games as a freshman and started three, completing 57 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He suffered an abdominal injury during Colorado’s 20-13 overtime win over Cal on Oct. 15 and was not able to return to the field.

That win turned out to be the Buffaloes’ only victory of the season, finishing 1-11 after they fired Karl Dorrell following an 0-5 start. Sanders, the longtime NFL star and former head coach of FCS program Jackson State, accepted the same position at Colorado over the weekend.

At his opening press conference, Sanders introduced his son, Shedeur Sanders, by saying, “And this is your quarterback.” The younger Sanders starred for Jackson State over the past two seasons, racking up 6,614 passing yards and 66 touchdowns.

Deion Sanders’ first meeting with the current team was also filmed.

“I want y’all to get ready to go ahead and jump in the portal and do whatever you’re gonna get because if more of you jump in, the more room you make,” Sanders told players.

“We’ve got a few positions already taken care of because I’m bringing my luggage with me,” he added. “And it’s Louis (Vuitton).”

McCown is the son of Josh McCown and nephew of Luke McCown, two former NFL quarterbacks. He was a three-star prospect coming out of high school.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA;  Oregon quarterback Bo Nix (10) runs the ball against The California Golden Bears during the second quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 Oregon can stay unbeaten in Pac-12 vs. Colorado

Oregon’s seven straight wins have the Ducks ranked No. 8 in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the 2022 season, and they’ll be heavy favorites to make it eight against Colorado in a matchup of the top and bottom teams in the Pac-12 Saturday afternoon in Boulder, Colo.

Oregon (7-1, 5-0 Pac-12) might need the style points from a blowout win just to keep pace for a shot at a top-four spot in the CFP. But there is no overlooking the Buffaloes (1-7, 1-4) for the Ducks to get to the Pac-12 championship game, and perhaps even more success.

The Ducks are lighting up the scoreboard on offense. Since a 49-3 loss to now-CFP No. 3 Georgia to open the season, Oregon has not lost and has scored no fewer than 41 points in each of its seven straight wins.

Oregon has won 27 straight games when the Ducks scored 40 or more points. The Ducks have totaled 500 or more yards of offense in five straight games and have given up just one sack this season.

Quarterback Bo Nix leads the way on offense. He has three games with three rushing touchdowns, leads the conference in rushing touchdowns with 11 and has thrown 20 touchdown passes.

Oregon’s offense averages 525.8 yards per game to lead the Pac-12. Conversely, Colorado is last in the league in total offense at 295.3 yards per game.

Defensive back Christian Gonzalez, who was a top player for Colorado in his two seasons there before transferring to Oregon prior to this season, had eight tackles and blocked a field goal last weekend at Cal. Gonzalez will face his former team Saturday.

“We’re going to celebrate our wins, but as an offense and as a defense there’s things we’ve got to work on,” Gonzalez said, per Oregon’s athletics website. “We can finish out a game better as a defense. It’s just getting back to work, being humble and hungry.”

Colorado will face its third top-12 program of the season in Oregon, as TCU and UCLA have risen to Nos. 7 and 12, respectively. The Buffaloes still have at least two more current top-25 opponents on their schedule, Southern California and Utah.

In a 42-34 home loss to Arizona State last week, Colorado scored a season-high 34 points. Jordyn Tyson had an 88-yard punt return for a score and caught a 58-yard touchdown pass for the Buffaloes.

Deion Smith rushed for 111 yards, a career high.

Defensively, Colorado struggled in pass coverage against the Sun Devils and were often victimized by big plays. Arizona State had 15 plays in which it gained at least 10 rushing yards or at least 15 yards on a pass completion.

“Our offense goes and has a tremendous drive, the defense has to get a stop,” Colorado interim head coach Mike Sanford said via the team website. “Those are the things I believe we’re going to piece together throughout the course of these next four weeks.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell during the first quarter against the UCLA Bruins at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado fires head coach Karl Dorrell after 0-5 start

After an 0-5 start to the season, including two consecutive defeats in Pac-12 Conference play, Colorado fired head coach Karl Dorrell and defensive coordinator Chris Wilson on Sunday.

The moves come one day after Colorado absorbed a 43-20 defeat at Arizona. The Buffaloes allowed at least 38 points in each game this season, with opponents averaging 43.2 points per game.

Dorrell, 59, was in his third season at Colorado, with his teams going 8-15.

“I want to thank Karl for his hard work in leading our program since 2020,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a statement. “Ultimately, however, the results on the field did not measure up to our expectations and standards, which made it necessary for us to make this change at this time.”

Dorrell spent most of his career as an NFL assistant following a run as head coach at his alma mater UCLA from 2003-07. He was on the staffs of the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and New York Jets since 2008.

Wilson, 53, has an extensive resume as a college coach, but came to Colorado along with Dorrell in 2020 after four seasons as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.

In eight total seasons as a head coach with UCLA and Colorado, Dorrell was 43-42. Colorado lost to UCLA 45-17 in Dorrell’s final home game with the Buffaloes on Sept. 24.

Dorrell was halfway through a five-year contract and will receive an $8.7 million buyout from the university, paid in installments.

–Field Level Media