FORT WORTH – Anyone expecting Deion Sanders to be humbled in the spotlight of major college football was sorely mistaken. His Buffaloes ran past a TCU Horned Frogs team that went undefeated in the 2022 regular season and reached the national championship game in a 45-42 victory. His son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders, threw for 510 yards and four touchdowns. Two-way star Travis Hunter was one of four Colorado receivers to tally over 100 yards receiving. He also recorded an interception.
And this wasn’t a fluke. Prime’s squad looked like the experienced roster under an experienced P5 coach. Colorado forced a three-and-out on TCU’s initial drive and then went on a 13-play drive that spanned 73 yards and ended in the end zone. The first three Colorado drives lasted at least 10 plays.
"I've got all my receipts," Coach Prime said postgame, alluding to the doubters ahead of the game. His Buffs were 20.5-point underdogs against TCU. "Should I pull out all my receipts?"
TCU looked like a team playing through the 2022 fog. The Horned Frogs were forced to replace starters at every position group following the year, including quarterback Max Duggan. They also replaced departing offensive coordinator Garrett Riley with Kendal Briles. Briles and starting quarterback Chandler Morris underperformed in the first outing of 2023. TCU has lost three of its last four games after head coach Sonny Dykes won the first 12 of his tenure in Fort Worth.
"This season ain't over," TCU cornerback Josh Newton said postgame. "There are 11 more ball games."
Prime is good for college football: The Amon G. Carter Stadium record 53,294 fans in attendance were treated to a hell of a college football game, even if the purple faithful will want to suffer from a case of amnesia. The pregame atmosphere was electric. FOX Big Noon Kickoff was in attendance. Frog Alley was packed. Th student section was full nearly an hour before kickoff. Most of those things wouldn’t be true if TCU was playing a normal first year FBS head coach taking over a lowly Pac-12 program. But Deion Sanders isn’t normal. Love him or hate him, he matters. He moves the needle. The Big 12 needs that as Texas and Oklahoma leave the conference. Deion’s arrival in 2024 means plenty of casual eyeballs will remain on the Big 12 for years to come. Or at least until the Florida State job or something opens up.
TCU looked like the team with 50+ new players and a new staff: The Horned Frogs pulled off a miracle run in 2022 by doing the small things right. They started the 2023 season on the opposite note and paid the ultimate price in the upset loss. TCU committed four more penalties than Colorado and lost the turnover battle, 2-1. Both of those turnovers were interceptions throw in the end zone, including one near the goal line with a chance to take a second-half lead.
"They were more ready to play than we were," TCU head coach Sonny Dykes admitted after the game. "They were more excited."
It was the Buffaloes that turned over their roster in an unprecedented fashion by adding over 50 transfers to the program in Deion’s first offseason in charge. But it was TCU that looked like the team without chemistry. The defense missed tackles. The offense looked out of sync. Even the special teams faltered with a missed field goal.
Horned Frogs outcoached by Colorado: The edge on the sidelines was lopsided, but not in the way most pundits predicted. The Buffs outcoached TCU in the win. Briles, a controversial hire in the offseason due to his ties to Baylor and the scandal that resulted in his father’s firing in Waco, didn’t earn any new fans in Fort Worth with his offense’s performance. TCU realized too late in the game that the main offensive advantage was by running the football. Morris attempted 42 passes in the game while the team only ran the ball 37 times despite averaging over seven yards a carry.
Joe Gillespie’s defense was even worse. Colorado gained 565 yards and converted 9 of 15 third downs. The Buffs were 2 for 2 on fourth down, including the winning touchdown pass. The Horned Frogs did record four sacks, but for most of the game, Sanders threw from a clean pocket and picked out open receivers with ease. The TCU secondary was supposed to be the strength of the team with four starters returning.
"Terrible," Dykes said about the defense. "I thought it was a really bad defensive performance."
This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.