Every winning football team credits the same thing for its success: culture. It’s a common theme throughout all sports, but even more prevalent in football. Champions always mention culture in their victory speeches, and it’s routinely one of the first words spoken when a new coach is hired. It is what drives unselfish play and discipline, and gets everybody aligned working toward the same goals. When a team has a solid culture, you can see it by how it plays on the field. You can hear it by the way the team speaks.
Deion Sanders is building a winning culture in Colorado. There were very few believers in the Colorado Buffaloes when the college football season kicked off. I wasn’t one of them, as I quickly sided with conventional wisdom. My biggest concern was the culture. Would a roster of transfers continue to buy in when the losses piled up early? I guess we will never find out.
The Colorado Buffaloes are undefeated at 2-0. The opening week stunner against No. 17 TCU put the country on notice. The follow-up, a convincing 36-14 win over Nebraska, was a statement that they aren’t going anywhere.
The most impressive aspect of Colorado cruising to a 22-point win over a Big Ten opponent is that the Cornhuskers are the type of physical team that was supposed to derail the Buffaloes' high-flying offense. Matt Rhule’s defense came out aggressive and effectively slowed Colorado down in the early going, but Shedeur Sanders and the Colorado offense kept coming. Eventually, it was the Big Ten opponent, not Deion Sanders’ Colorado, that broke.
After some sharps showed resistance to backing the Buffaloes in the first two weeks, it appears to be one-way traffic with Colorado sprinting out as a 23.5-point favorite as it hosts Colorado State on Saturday night. Here’s why it’s time to back the Buffaloes, even if you are late to party.
Colorado St. at Colorado (-23.5)
If you don’t believe by now, I’m not sure what it’s going to take. With each win, the Colorado culture strengthens and the belief the Buffaloes have in themselves intensifies. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the Pac-12. Heisman hopeful Shedeur Sanders has already posted 903 yards and six touchdowns in his first two games against FBS competition. On deck is a Colorado State defense that allowed 30 first downs, 556 total yards and 50 points to Washington State in its only game this season.
Deion Sanders has masterfully fueled the Heisman buzz around Shedeur Sanders and WR/DB Travis Hunter, whether it’s during postgame or even halftime interviews. So far, his willingness to speak it into existence has worked. Sheduer Sanders and Hunter have rapidly become the sportsbooks' largest liabilities for the award. The momentum will undoubtedly reach new heights after facing a Rams secondary that ranks 129th in passing success rate allowed.
Betting a favorite of this size can be daunting. It feels square even when you know you have an edge. Whenever I’m sizing up this type of wager, a key factor is always motivation. Does the team have incentive to relentlessly score for all four quarters? Colorado is currently on a crash course to enter next week’s high-profile game against Oregon. Typically, I would target the first-half spread, anticipating the Buffaloes would rest their star players after racing out to a big lead. But don’t expect Coach Sanders to take his foot off the gas. The two-time Super Bowl champion understands both the media and the voting process. I’m sure he views this as a major opportunity to maximize his quarterback’s stat profile, knowing the media frenzy that will be present at the following two games against Oregon and USC.
Colorado checks all the boxes for a team to cover this large of a number, as the betting market continues to try to catch up. The Buffaloes' offense has averaged 40.5 points per game and should put up its highest-scoring output against this defense. The crowd at Folsom Field was electric for last week’s game that kicked off at 10 a.m. Mountain Time. Can you imagine the atmosphere for the first night game of the Deion Sanders era? Take the Buffaloes and take them now. The spread will only continue to climb.
Bet: Colorado -23.5