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Colorado's Deion and Shedeur Sanders embrace rivalry: 'We don't like Nebraska'
College Football

Colorado's Deion and Shedeur Sanders embrace rivalry: 'We don't like Nebraska'

Updated Sep. 6, 2023 6:22 p.m. ET

Colorado head coach Deion Sanders and quarterback Shedeur Sanders may be new to the historic rivalry between the now-No. 22 Buffaloes and Nebraska, but they are fully embracing it.

After beating then-No. 17 TCU — which reached the College Football Playoff Championship last season — on the road last weekend, Colorado takes on the Cornhuskers on "Big Noon Saturday" (12 p.m. ET, FOX) in what's the former's home opener, and "Coach Prime" loves the long-held animosity between his program and Nebraska's.

"I've learned the severity, the serious nature of this rivalry, and I'm embracing it 100%," Deion Sanders said Tuesday. "This is personal. That's the message of the week."

Colorado and Nebraska have faced off 71 times with the Cornhuskers 49-20-2 all-time against the Buffaloes. Their last matchup came in 2019, with Colorado winning in overtime, 34-31.


When the CU-NU series was at its height, it was possibly the most nasty and hateful rivalry this side of Ohio State-Michigan. It also coincided with a down cycle at Oklahoma, the Huskers’ traditional rival. Colorado filled the void.

The Buffs were just 7-17-1 against the Huskers from 1986-2010, but their wins were devastating and a lot of the games were close. They were both ranked in all eight meetings from 1989-96, including six games when each was in the top 10. Colorado shared the national title in 1990, and the Huskers won three from 1994-97.

They were the top two teams in the Big Eight in the last seven years of the conference, and they were 1-2 in the Big 12 North in 1996 and 2001. The Buffs’ 62-36 victory in ’01 signaled the beginning of a Nebraska decline from which it has yet to recover.

"The beating we put on them, that will never, ever leave my mind," said former CU tight end Daniel Graham, a 2002 first-round pick of New England who won two Super Bowls with the Patriots before returning home — he’s from Denver — to play for the Broncos.

The two schools used to be in the Big 12 — previously the Big 8 and Big 7 — as they played each other every season from 1948-2010 before Colorado moved to the Pac-12 and Nebraska moved to the Big Ten in 2011. They've played twice since changing conferences (2018 and 2019). Ironically, Colorado is going back to the Big 12 in 2024.

As for Colorado's quarterback and Deion's son Shedeur, who threw for 510 yards and four touchdowns at TCU last week, he too is all-in on embracing the rivalry.

Week 2 preview: Coach Prime's home debut

"We just know the history of it, [at] Colorado we don't like Nebraska. Simple. That's just what it is," Sanders said Tuesday. "We just gotta focus on that. Okay, cool, we don't like Nebraska, but that's not really gonna change the preparation or anything like that because we prepare like nobody likes us cause we know we're going to get everybody's best game. It's just a little bit more motivation, but we gotta already be motivated."

The color red (Nebraska's primary team color) is banned in the Colorado facility this week, and Shedeur has also taken down any red clothing from his "$²" online merchandise store.

"It’s so exciting to see that and hear that," Graham said, "because someone is telling them what this rivalry means to us, what this game means to us."

One of the first things former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney did when he took over the Buffs in 1982 was to contrive a rivalry with Nebraska and ban red in the football building. At that point, the Buffs hadn’t beaten the Huskers in 15 years.

Fueled by the local media and McCartney’s lead, Colorado fans hurled insults at all things Nebraska. Huskers fans were outspoken about the inhospitable treatment they’d receive in the Folsom Field stands.

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As for Nebraska's current team, it's coming off a gut-wrenching last-second loss to Minnesota in Week 1, 13-10, a game that saw it turn the ball over four times. Matt Rhule is in his first season as Nebraska's head coach.

While Rhule praised Sanders in a press conference in Lincoln on Tuesday with Sanders returning the kind words from Boulder, he also said he watched YouTube clips of past games before he was hired and understands the teams’ shared history. "When you have a legacy behind you," he said, "you have to live up to it and you have to build on it for the future." 

Both teams and fanbases will get a chance to do just that this Saturday as FOX's Big Noon Saturday arrives in Boulder for the first time. Coverage begins with "Big Noon Kickoff" live from Colorado's campus at 10 a.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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