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Big Noon Live: Nebraska bit by turnovers, Colorado leads 13-7 in 3rd


What can Deion Sanders do for an encore?

We’ll find out today as his Colorado Buffaloes — ranked No. 22 after their stunning upset of TCU in Week 1 — are playing host to Matt Rhule’s Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Deion Sanders on Colorado, Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter

While Colorado’s Week 1 game was a wild score-fest that was played a breakneck speed and resulted in a 45-42 Buffs victory, Saturday’s game has been a slugfest. Nebraska’s defense has played well so far, but Colorado has forced three turnovers while taking a 13-0 halftime lead.

This is the first time Colorado has led at halftime vs. Nebraska since 2004 when the Buffs’ QB was none other than Joel Klatt.

Check below for everything to know about the matchup, plus live in-game analysis from FOX Sports’ Bryan Fischer!

Nebraska at No. 22 Colorado

09:50 3Q: Nebraska is on the board!

I guess that is why Jeff Sims remains in at quarterback. His 57-yard touchdown run off the keeper keeps Nebraska in this one and makes it a one-score game following the trip to the end zone.

Give extra credit on that play to wideout Marcus Washington, who took the corner guarding him out of the play and blocked the safety that was the only Buff in between Sims and seven points.

HALFTIME NOTES

Colorado’s first four drives of the first half: Twenty-four plays, 50 yards and four punts. Three drives since Jeff Sims’ second fumble? Ten plays, 86 yards and 13 points. It certainly seemed like the Buffs found a bit of rhythm offensively as things wore on, but QB Shedeur Sanders has to continue to be patient moving forward as Nebraska keeps dropping eight into coverage with just about every drop-back. Still, it’s enough to give the Buffs their first halftime lead over Big Red since 2004.

Other thoughts at the break:

— Will we see a QB change for Nebraska? Jeff Sims is a respectable 6-of-10 for 71 yards passing, but he’s fumbled twice and thrown an awful interception. Heinrich Haarberg did seem to have his helmet on late in the second quarter, so it’s possible he or fellow backup Chubba Purdy wind up seeing some time after coaches regroup in the locker room.

— Both teams would love to run the football, but neither have been able to so far. Gabe Ervin Jr. is up to 73 yards on the ground, but most of that came on one 26-yard scamper that was one of the team’s two plays over 20 yards so far. Against a defensive line they should be able to push over, the Huskers are averaging just 3.2 yards per carry so far. The problem for the home side is they’re doing even worse at 1.3 YPC while also seeing their offensive line give up four sacks.

— Freshman Dylan Edwards was seemingly everywhere against TCU last week but has been held in check today. He’s had just five touches for a grand total of two total yards — yet remains the team’s leading rusher at halftime. Travis Hunter is similarly having a bit of a quiet outing so far, being targeted just five times and pulling down two catches for 33 yards on offense. He has recorded just two tackles on defense.

— Nebraska won the time-of-possession battle by just over six minutes, but they did so with an offense that was unable to finish any sort of drive. Of the seven times they trotted onto the field, they turned it over three times, had three punts and doinked a field goal attempt. That’s not going to cut it against anybody, much less a ranked opponent on the road.

Halftime: Colorado leads 13-0

The Buffs added three more points as the second quarter clock ran out, earning the chance thanks in part to the nifty footwork of Travis Hunter.

2:43 2Q: Defense → offense, Colorado leads 10-0

Weeeeeelllllp. Jeff Sims’ third turnover of the day comes on an awful interception and the Buffaloes take advantage right away with a touchdown pass from Shedeur Sanders to a wideopen Tar’Varish Dawson. Given the struggles NU has shown offensively so far, the 10 points on the board for the Buffs might well do it today unless there’s a QB change.

Shedeur Sanders connects with Tar’Varish Dawson for a 30-yard TD

04:20 2Q: Fumble sets up Buffs for 3-0 lead

Will we see Chubba Purdy at some point today? If Jeff Sims can’t even handle the snap properly, perhaps so. The quarterback’s second turnover of the day winds up gifting Colorado the first points of the day after Jace Feely knocks it home from 31 yards out. The Buffs don’t have a lot to celebrate on offense by averaging 2.6 yards per play, but at least they have something on the scoreboard in what has quickly become a very Big Ten-esque game so far.

Jace Feely kicks a 31-yard FG to give Colorado the lead

6:54 2Q: Upright gets in way of a Nebraska lead

Give partial credit to Luke Lindenmeyer for Nebraska even having an opportunity to doink it off the uprights on that drive, as he recovered the fumble that he created by having the snap go off his hip. Still, it was a waste of their second trip into Colorado territory, set up largely by Gabe Ervin Jr.’s 26-yard run. NU has had four drives, and they’ve gone fumble, punt, punt, and missed field goal. That’s not how you beat a ranked team on the road, even if the defense is playing well.

12:06 2Q: Shedeur Sanders has been sacked four times!

The Blackshirt defense is getting more pressure on Shedeur Sanders than TCU ever did last week. The Huskers already have four sacks on the day, and they’ve forced several of his 12 pass attempts to be rushed or thrown away. That’s keeping Matt Rhule’s crew in the game so far, but they can’t hold the Buffs down all game long if they doesn’t get some production out of their own offense.

End 1Q: Still scoreless … who will crack first?

As much as Nebraska’s focus is on running the ball, that’s starting to play into Colorado’s hands defensively. The Cornhuskers have converted just one of their four third-down attempts and have faced an average of 8.8 yards to go. RB Gabe Ervin Jr. has notched 25 yards on the ground, but he’s worked to earn every inch with contact coming right at the line quite a bit.

5:31 1Q: Buffs slowed by mistakes

A little bit of everything for Colorado on its opening drive, but the penalties and mental mistakes are what will drive Deion Sanders up a wall. Credit to his quarterback for making some plays, as Shedeur Sanders made some impressive throws and used his legs effectively, especially one on third down to Travis Hunter early, but it just wasn’t enough to find some points. The Blackshirt defense is certainly looking to be quite physical with their opposite numbers in black shirts.

10:53 1Q: Nebraska’s drive stopped!

As expected, Nebraska is milking the clock and taking every snap down to under seven seconds on the play clock — their first eight plays covered just 38 yards but ended up taking 4:51 off the game clock. Still, the Cornhuskers’ opening drive ended in disaster as QB Jeff Sims simply dropped the snap, leading to a Colorado fumble recovery. Matt Rhule knows the signal-caller has the most upside of anybody on the roster behind center but at what point do these turnovers lead to a change?

PREGAME NOTES

Big Noon is once again Prime Time as Deion Sanders tries to lead Colorado to a 2-0 start in 2023 and a third straight win over vaunted rivals Nebraska for the first time since 1958. Just before kickoff arrives for Big Noon Saturday’s marquee matchup, here are four things to keep an eye on in the game:

— Nothing will determine the ultimate outcome in this contest more than the pace at which it’s played. Buffs offensive coordinator Sean Lewis loves to go as fast as possible to maximize the team’s skill position players (and minimize the time his offensive line has to keep a clean pocket) but you just know that new Cornhuskers coach Matt Rhule is going to want to make this a slog from start to finish. The visitors from the Big Ten are likely to revert to 1990s form by running the ball and then running it some more on top of playing some salty defense. That puts added pressure on CU to score as much as they can when it has the ball.

— The play of Jeff Sims remains critical to Nebraska’s chances on the road. He has the most career turnovers of any active Big Ten player and coughed up the ball down the stretch in the loss to Minnesota last week. He’s shown he can be a dangerous runner (19 carries in Week 1) but has to be more aware of defenders trying to take the ball away if his side is going to have a chance to make things interesting against the Buffs.

— Naturally, Travis Hunter’s snap count is going to be closely watched by just about everybody following that masterful two-way performance against TCU in the opener. It would be slightly unexpected if he matches the 145 snaps from last week, but you can probably see him make an oversized impact on offense and defense even if he’s not on the field as much for this one. The Cornhuskers’ receivers don’t have the ability to create much separation, so Colorado coaches could place a bit of a premium on Hunter playing more offensively to see if he can find the end zone a few more times with the ball in his hands.

— Quarterback Shedeur Sanders looked extremely poised against the Horned Frogs and thrived on finding the open receiver when pressured. He was 8-for-13 for 163 yards and two scores when TCU got to him last week and that could lead to the Blackshirts on the other side today playing a little less aggressive and dropping more players into coverage as a way to frustrate the young signal-caller. Sometimes that leads to impatient throws as you try to make something happen, so it will be interesting to see if Sanders can remain calm in the pocket even if his first few reads are covered.

PREGAME SCENE

What makes Coach Prime so good?
 

Jerry Jones, Leroy Butler, and more talk about Deion Sanders’ greatness

Two of Colorado’s stars chime in …

Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter speak on Deion Sanders

Win or lose, Colorado players are dressed for success

The Buffaloes arrived on the scene Saturday dressed in suits designed by Deion Sanders and from Michael Strahan’s own menswear line.

Here we go!

Coach Urban Meyer is joined by former Colorado QB Kordell Stewart and Michael Stewart to break down the Buff’s playbook.

Urban Meyer breaks down Shedeur Sanders’ play in Week 1

Even Snoop Dogg is getting in on the Colorado action.

‘We was made for this big stage’ — Snoop Dogg hypes up Colorado

Coach Prime has arrived.

A throne fit for a “Prime Time” king.

It’s corny, and a little rude, but …

FOX analyst and former Colorado Buff Joel Klatt talks about being home and all the love from Buff fans! 

What a start in Colorado!

Hometown love

Denver native and former NBA all-star Chauncey Billups is here for the “Prime Time” effect!

Colorado alum and NBA Champion Chauncey Billups discusses the ‘Prime’ effect

Buffs walk it out

Sanders leads his team through a sea of supportive fans ahead of today’s matchup.

FOX Sports’ Michael Cohen is on-site, documenting the huge day in Boulder.

PREGAME NUMBERS TO KNOW

510: Passing yards QB Shedeur Sanders had in his Colorado debut — the most in school history, and the most of any QB in their college football debut since 2000.

.824: Winning percentage for Colorado head coach Deion Sanders, through 34 games, which currently gives him the best winning percentage of any active head coach.

4: Touchdowns scored by Buffaloes RB Dylan Edwards in his debut — the first true freshman since Marlon Mack in 2014 to have that many in their debut.

181: Total rushing yards (on 37 carries) Nebraska had in Week 1 against Minnesota: QB Jeff Sims (91); RB Gabe Ervin Jr. (55); RB Anthony Grant (27). 

3: Georgia Tech transfer Sims had three interceptions in his Nebraska debut, and one passing TD. 

2-14: Nebraska’s record in one-score games over the last three seasons.

[More numbers to know for Week 2 games]

PREGAME READING

Week 2 wagering: Chris “The Bear” Fallica shares his predictions from all the top games, including Nebraska-Colorado. Read more.

Colorado’s players are receiving prime-time coaching: Much attention has been paid to the Colorado players who burst on the scene in Week 1, but FOX Sports’ Bryan Fischer explains why we shouldn’t overlook the coaching upgrade that Deion Sanders has brought to the Buffaloes. Read more.

Can Travis Hunter keep up this pace?: According to the University of Colorado, two-way star Travis Hunter played in 86% of his team’s snaps in the Buffs’ Week 1 win over TCU. Remarkably, both he and his coach Deion Sanders believe he can handle the workload as the season continues. “It’s fun,” Hunter said of pulling double duty. “It’s hard on your body, but that’s what you got treatment for.” Read the full story from Laken Litman.

Speaking of Hunter … How does Colorado’s multi-talented phenom compare to other two-way stars of the last 30 years? We break it down here, with a list that might be more extensive than you thought!

The Pac-12 is shockingly deep: FOX Sports analyst Joel Klatt explains why the Pac-12 is the deepest conference in the nation, primarily due to a collection of top-tier quarterbacks that spreads well beyond reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams. Read more.

Is Colorado about to showcase yet another breakout star?: NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang thinks so, and he explains who it could be while revealing the prospects scouts will zero in on in Week 2. Read more.

Talent evaluators chime in on Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter: What do the experts say about Colorado’s stars? RJ Young has the story.

Bonus reading!

Quinn Ewers is trying to find comfort outside his comfort zone: Outside the “Big Noon” slate, the biggest game Saturday will take place in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the No. 3 Crimson Tide play host to the No. 11 Texas Longhorns. For the Longhorns to take the next step on the national stage, their quarterback believes he needs to become a more vocal leader. Publicly, this does not appear to be a natural move for the talented QB, but behind the scenes, his teammates tell a different tale. FOX Sports’ Laken Litman has the story.

How good is Caleb Williams?: Heisman winners don’t always live up to the hype on the next level, but FOX Sports’ Bucky Brooks explains why USC’s star quarterback is primed to be an NFL star. Read more.

Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has been covering college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets such as NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and NFL.com among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.



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