BOULDER | A year after the Colorado Buffaloes’ only victory came on a disputed touchdown in overtime, Folsom Field is suddenly the epicenter of college football.
Tickets can set fans back more than $400, and Deion Sanders’ guest list never disappoints. For his home coaching debut Saturday, fellow Hall of Famers Michael Irvin, Terrell Owens and Shannon Sharpe were in attendance, along with the Wu-Tang Clan.
With thousands of students itching to storm the field as the resurgent Buffaloes were putting the finishing touches on their 36-14 drubbing of Nebraska, Fox announced that its “Big Noon Kickoff” set would remain in Boulder for another week.
Fox originally had planned to pack up and head to Champaign, Illnois, for the Penn State-Illinois matchup. Instead, the network will feature the Rocky Mountain Showdown when the Buffaloes (2-0) host Colorado State (0-1) on Saturday night.
The Rams-Buffs game isn’t exactly a marquee matchup, but the draw here is Coach Prime and all that he brings to the program, the stadium, the campus and the community.
The Buffaloes, who moved up four spots to No. 18 in the AP Top 25 on Sunday, will be featured by Fox with its early kickoff for the third consecutive week.
In Week 1, the set was in Fort Worth, Texas, where the Buffaloes became the first Power Five team since 1997 to win its opener as a 20-plus point underdog when they beat last season’s national runner-up, the TCU Horned Frogs, 45-42.
Sanders told the Fox crew before kickoff in Week 2 that he slept in his office overnight so he could enjoy every bit of his debut at Folsom Field, where the crowd of 53,241 was Colorado’s largest since 2008.
After the game, as Sanders settled into his chair to field questions from reporters, ESPN announced its ” College GameDay ” crew would head to Boulder next weekend for the first time since 1996.
Sanders reacted in typically unflappable fashion to the dual developments keeping his Buffs the talk of college football for another week.
“At the risk of sounding arrogant, we truly expect that,” he said. “And that’s why those kids come, they want the biggest stage and they’re getting that every darn week. And the numbers justify it.”
The CU-TCU matchup was the most-watched college football game on Sept. 2, with 7.26 million viewers, “and I’m pretty sure these numbers are going to justify it, as well,” Sanders said of the Nebraska-CU game.
The last time “GameDay” came to Boulder was Sept. 14, 1996, when the fifth-ranked Buffaloes lost to No. 11 Michigan 20-13. “GameDay” visited Boulder twice in 1995, the year after ESPN began sending its crew to college campuses.
The sellout crowd was abuzz from the moment the gates opened for the 10 a.m. kickoff Saturday.
“I felt like it was the spring game all over again,” said Buffs quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who overcame a slow start — four possessions, four punts — to pile up the points by leading Colorado to scores on six of his last seven drives.
As students stormed the field, Shedeur Sanders ignored admonitions to follow his father, who was escorted into the locker room for safety’s sake.
“This was my first experience with the fans rushing the field, so I was really excited,” said Shedeur Sanders, who has thrown for 902 yards and six TDs with zero interceptions so far. “Then, it’s just bittersweet because I started getting beat up.”
His father relished his home coaching debut, calling the scene in Boulder beautiful.
“A lot of this stuff is new to me,” Coach Prime said. “I know I have been at the highest level, the World Series as well as Super Bowls.”
But he said this was the first time he experienced fans rushing the field, capping a big, long day that he hopes will resonnate with the several recruits who were on hand.
The entire scene was something no one could have expected before Sanders arrived last December and set out to turn college football’s wasteland into a promised land.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll