EUGENE, Ore. — Colorado coach Deion Sanders ducked into a small white tent on the backside of Autzen Stadium on Saturday to address his first true low with the Buffaloes: a 42-6 loss to Oregon in a matchup of top-20 teams.
“We played like hot garbage,” Sanders said. “Good old-fashioned butt kicking. No excuses.”
As much as Sanders’ straightforward comments gave voice to Colorado’s struggles, the result spoke volumes. The Buffaloes were outplayed in every facet of the game, allowing 522 total yards — 282 passing, 240 rushing — and failing to gain 200 yards overall.
Sanders’ team looked discombobulated on the road, racking up penalties and mistakes on both sides of the ball. Combined with Oregon’s stellar play, it was a disaster for Colorado. The Oregon student section’s chants of “overrated” started before the game and only got louder.
Not even two-way star Travis Hunter, who did not play because of an injury, could have rescued the Buffaloes from a result that felt inevitable from the moment quarterback Bo Nix and the Oregon offense opened with a 72-yard drive in 10 plays with little resistance. The theme continued as Nix and the offense collected first downs and scored 35 first-half points while the Ducks defense turned quarterback Shedeur Sanders‘ day into a nightmare.
Shedeur, who had garnered some Heisman hype in the first three games of the season, was sacked four times in the first half.
“I just can’t continue to take sacks like that,” Shedeur said postgame. “It’s nothing magical they did or surreal. If you don’t execute, you’re going to lose.”
“When they got to our quarterback, it’s a wrap,” Deion said of his son. “It’s not like we were running the ball successfully.”
Deion Sanders bristled against the notion regarding a talent gap between the Buffaloes and Ducks. If there were, he said, how were they 3-1 after a one-win season? As for the idea that Colorado needed to be humbled, he quipped that his team hadn’t been arrogant, only confident.
“We expect to do well,” Deion Sanders said. “We just didn’t do it today, but [the loss] wasn’t something that was needed.”
Sanders appears to be quite aware of the scrutiny. The attention Colorado attracts is rooted in his persona and coaching, but according to Sanders, so is the way opposing teams look at the Buffaloes. Teams are fixated on beating him, not his team, he said. This seems to have led to everything from fans taunting Shedeur Sanders about his Rolex watches like they did late in Saturday’s game; to Puddles, the Oregon mascot, dressing up as Coach Prime during pregame before smashing a clock that said “Prime Time;” to opposing coaches making comments like the one Dan Lanning did during his pregame speech, talking about how games are played on grass and not “in Hollywood.”
“I don’t say stuff just to say it for a click, contrary to what somebody said,” Deion Sanders said. “Our confidence offends their insecurity. It is what it is. I signed up for it.”
The Buffaloes exude confidence. Deion Sanders emerges from the tunnel and takes his pregame walk, surrounded by security and double-digit cameras clicking that chronicle his every move. It’s remarkable to witness as he strolls slowly around the perimeter of a field, welcoming boos and cheers alike. Even if he is quick to point out he is no longer playing, it’s not hard to see why some teams and coaches react as if he is.
“Let them ask a couple more,” Deion said when Colorado’s sports information director called to end Saturday’s postgame news conference. “I got nowhere else to go.”
No one more than Deion knows that all the glitz and glamour fall flat in the face of losses. It’s why Sanders was clear after Saturday’s setback that there’s not just plenty to work on, but plenty of time too, for a program in Year 1 of what is supposed to be a rebuilding season.
“Get your butt up and let’s go,” Sanders said of his postgame message to the team. “We ain’t got time to have a pity party. Ain’t nobody walking around the locker room with napkins and tissues. We got some work to do. I can see the future, and it looks really good.”