Deion Sanders makes home debut as No. 22 Colorado hosts longtime rival Nebraska in sold-out game
The Colorado coach is completely responsible for the frenzy to come inside Folsom Field.
The iconic stadium, which opened in 1924, will be filled to capacity — ticket prices are through the roof — in the home debut for Sanders on Saturday when the 22nd-ranked Buffaloes host longtime rival Nebraska.
Sanders is well on his way to restoring the shine to a downtrodden program that's coming off a 1-11 season. He teased what his overhauled roster was capable of when the Buffaloes (1-0) beat a nationally ranked TCU squad on the road last week.
The Colorado-Nebraska game remains one of the hottest regular-season tickets in college football history, with a seat going for an average price of more than $400, according to TickPick.
“The light is shining upon us,” Sanders said, “and we’re thankful for that.”
This weekend, there could be celebrities sightings galore around town, along with plenty of former Buffaloes making their way back to Folsom Field. Through it all, Sanders is just trying to keep the focus on the field. Because Nebraska coach Matt Rhule is trying to do the exact same thing — turn around a program that's fallen on lean times.
Rhule once led Temple to back-to-back bowl appearances, and also turned Baylor from an 11-loss team into an 11-game winner. He's making his return to the college sideline with Nebraska after being let go by the Carolina Panthers.
“He’s done a phenomenal job with (Nebraska) and trying to get them in the right direction,” Sanders said. “They play hard. They play tough. They’re physical."
The respect is mutual.
“His poster was on people’s walls when he was a player, because (Sanders) is one of the most hard-working players who played the game,” said Rhule, whose team is coming off a 13-10 season-opening loss at Minnesota. “Why would we think his team would not be the same?”
For Rhule and the Cornhuskers, it's about stopping them — and not getting caught up in the Deion Sanders Show.
“If we can’t lock in and just play football then nothing I say will matter,” Rhule said. “The pregame pageantry will all be over. It’ll be football once the game kicks off.”
The first game at the stadium now called Folsom Field was on Oct. 11, 1924, when Colorado beat Regis College 39-0. It originally was known as Colorado Stadium until it was changed to Folsom Field in 1944 to honor legendary coach Frederick Folsom. He spent three different stints as the coach of Colorado between 1895 and 1915. He coached a total of 15 years and went 77-23-2.
Being a defensive back, Nebraska’s Omar Brown can’t help but look up to Deion Sanders, the NFL Hall of Famer who was one of the best DBs ever to roam the field.
“That’s obviously the GOAT," Brown said. “Him being a coach now it brings in a different perspective and you obviously have to give Coach Sanders his props as well as respect.”
The Huskers have dropped four nonconference road games in a row, including a 34-31 overtime loss in Boulder in 2019. Their last non-conference road win was in 2014, when they beat Fresno State 55-19.
The Cornhuskers lead the all-time series 49-20-2, including 23-11-2 in Boulder. But the Buffaloes have won two in a row and have a chance at their first three-game winning streak in the rivalry since the 1950s.
They were in the same conference from 1948 to 2010 before Nebraska moved to Big Ten and the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12. Colorado will relocate to the Big 12 next season.
ALUMNI, COME ON BACK
Sanders is doing everything he can to make past Buffaloes players feel welcome.
“I wouldn’t be here in this building if it weren’t for them," Sanders said.
Daniel Graham, a tight end inducted into the school's hall of fame, appreciates the support.
“It means everything to us,” said Graham, who will be in attendance this weekend.
Nebraska (0-1) at No. 22 Colorado (1-0), Saturday, noon ET (Fox)
Line: Colorado by 2½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Nebraska leads, 49-20-2
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
This matchup features two schools with a once-heated rivalry and two coaches who are each trying to turn around once-storied programs. Deion Sanders started on the right note when the Buffaloes opened his tenure at Colorado with a 45-42 win at nationally ranked TCU. Matt Rhule didn't begin on the same sort of note in falling on the road to Minnesota 13-10 to begin his time in Lincoln. The ticket into Folsom Field remains a hot commodity, with the average purchase price of $417 ranking as the 12th-most expensive all time in terms of NCAA regular-season games, according to TickPick. The rivalry is being embraced in Boulder, where Sanders is outlawing the wearing of red during Nebraska week in the team facility.
Linebacker Luke Reimer and the Cornhuskers defense vs. a Colorado offense led by quarterback Shedeur Sanders. Sanders had a school-record 510-yard passing performance vs. TCU, with four teammates recording 100 or more yards receiving. Travis Hunter had 11 receptions for 119 yards — to go with an interception on defense — while running back Dylan Edwards hauled in five passes for 135 yards and three touchdowns. He also had another score on the ground.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nebraska: Receiver Billy Kemp IV, a transfer from Virginia who caught 192 passes for 1,774 yards and eight TDs over his career with the Cavaliers. He ranked fourth in receptions at Virginia. He didn't have a catch in the season opener.
Colorado: Hard to ignore the trio of Sanders, Hunter and Edwards, who all picked up Pac-12 awards this week for their performances against TCU. Sanders won offensive player of the week, Hunter defensive player and Edwards top freshman.
FACTS & FIGURES
The last two games between Colorado and Nebraska were decided by a total of eight points, including a 34-31 overtime win by the Buffaloes in 2019. ... The Cornhuskers are looking for their 50th win over Colorado. ... The Huskers have dropped their last four non-conference road games. ... Deion Sanders faced Nebraska three straight seasons (1985-87) as a player for Florida State. The Seminoles won two of three. ... Colorado's win over TCU ended a 27-game road losing skid against AP top-20 teams, according to league research. ... The Buffaloes led 17-14 at halftime. They never led at halftime last season. ... Since joining the Pac-12, Colorado has a 3-7 mark in regular season non-conference contests against Power Five teams.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Nebraska (0-1) at No. 22 Colorado (1-0), Saturday, Noon ET (Fox)
A lot of Nebraska fans came into the season predicting a victory over the completely overhauled Colorado team that won one game last year. Those same fans are nervous after coach Deion Sanders' Buffaloes shocked the college football world with their upset at TCU and the Cornhuskers turned in a lackluster performance in a loss at Minnesota.
Coach Prime, his quarterback son Shedeur and two-way phenom Travis Hunter are the main attractions. The Colorado-Nebraska rivalry from their days as Big Eight and Big 12 foes has become a secondary storyline.
The Huskers went from being an eight-point favorite a week ago to a 2.5-point underdog now, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. A win in Boulder would make up for what happened at Minnesota and end the Huskers' 21-game losing streak against Top 25 opponents.
Iowa (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Iowa State is going for two wins a row against the Hawkeyes after claiming the CyHawk Trophy for the first time in seven years. The Cyclones will try to do it with former President Donald Trump scheduled to be in attendance.
Cade McNamara and the Iowa offense didn't show much after the first couple of series in last week's win over Utah State. The Hawkeyes will be going against an Iowa State defense that's ranked first or second in the Big 12 three straight years.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Purdue, which visits Virginia Tech, will be one of only five schools to play back-to-back games against Power Five opponents so far this season. The Boilermakers host Syracuse next week. Purdue lost to Fresno State last week and hopes to avoid an 0-2 start for the first time since 2018. ... Wisconsin has won 17 straight night games entering its visit to Washington State under the lights. ... Michigan State's Cal Haladay, who led the Big Ten with 10 tackles per game last year, opened the season with 10 against Central Michigan. ... Maryland hasn't allowed a touchdown in three straight games, the longest streak of its kind since 1976. The last one against the Terrapins came in the fourth quarter against Ohio State Nov. 19. They held Rutgers and Duke (bowl) to no TDs to end 2022. ... Dragan Kesich's 47-yard field goal in Minnesota's 13-10 win over Nebraska was the Gophers' first walkoff FG in regulation since 2003. ... Michigan's J.J. McCarthy goes into his game against UNLV off his best passing performance at Michigan Stadium. He threw for 280 yards and three TDs against East Carolina. His 86.7% completion rate (26 of 30) was best in program history for a quarterback with at least 30 attempts.
Temple is a 9.5-point underdog at Rutgers, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Rutgers won 24-7 over Northwestern but averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. Temple was down 14 points at home late in the first half against Akron and scored 17 straight to win 24-21, their first victory in an opener since 2019. The Owls lost 16-14 to Rutgers last year, the difference being an interception returned for a touchdown. Rutgers is coming off a short week after playing its opener Sunday.
Luke Altmyer gets his first road test as Illinois' quarterback when the Illini visit Kansas on Friday night. Last week, the transfer from Mississippi led back-to-back scoring drives in the second half to put the Illini up against Toledo. After the Rockets went up by a point late, he converted a fourth-and-4 on the way to setting up the winning field goal with five seconds left. Illinois will be playing Kansas for the first time since 1968.