Is luck about to run out for Coach Prime and Colorado?
In fairness to Oregon head coach Dan Lanning, he didn't know any better.
Few expected Colorado to be 3-0 heading into Week 4 of the NCAA football season. Even fewer imagined Deion Sanders and the Buffaloes would explode on to the national scene and become the biggest story in the sport.
"I'm trying to remember what they won to affect this conference. Do you remember them winning anything? I don't remember them winning anything?"
That's what Lanning said about the Buffaloes at Oregon's media day in July, following news of Colorado's pending move to the Big 12 in 2024. He didn't realize at the time that Sanders was taking names.
Oregon would go on to announce its own departure from the Pac-12 in early August, meaning Saturday’s matchup between the Ducks and Buffaloes will be one of the conference’s last great meetings.
Despite being ranked 19th in the nation, Colorado is a 21-point underdog against 10th-ranked Oregon. That won’t concern Sanders, since the Buffaloes overcame that exact same spread to win at TCU in Week 1.
Sanders hasn't addressed Lanning's July comment yet, but that doesn't he's not leaning on it for motivation. That's what he did against TCU, claiming afterward that offensive coordinator Kendal Briles had slighted his son, Shedeur, at a Florida State workout years ago. That may have been top of mind for Shedeur in the opener as well. He passed for a school-record 510 yards and four touchdowns in Colorado's 45-42 win.
"We told you we was coming," Sanders said following that upset. "And guess what? We keep receipts."
Coach Prime has been collecting motivation from all angles since. He used comments Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule made about Colorado's program in the off-season to get his team fired up before their Week 2 game. The result was a 36-14 blowout in the Buffaloes' favour, thanks to another vengeful performance from Shedeur.
"[Rhule] said a lot of things about my pops," Shedeur said after passing for 393 yards and two touchdowns. "All respect was gone for them and their program. Respect level, it ain't there because you disrespected us first."
Then there was Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell and his dig at Sanders’ affinity for sunglasses and hats during a radio appearance last Wednesday. Sanders brought Norvell's message to practice that same day, relaying the same message he's been sending all season in the three days leading up to the game: It's personal.
The Buffaloes needed a 98-yard drive and two-point conversion to force overtime in a game they were heavily favoured to win, but they still found a way against Norvell and Colorado State.
The Buffaloes enter this week’s matchup as significant underdogs and without two-way star Travis Hunter, who is expected to miss a few weeks after absorbing an illegal hit in the Colorado State win.
Is luck about to run out for Sanders and Colorado? Or is there more magic left in the most exciting story in college football? We'll find out on Saturday.