The atmosphere will be tense when No. 19 Colorado faces No. 10 Oregon in Eugene on Saturday, revolving around the Buffaloes’ decision to bolt the Pac-12 for the Big 12 following this season.
The Buffaloes went 1-11 last season as the dregs of the Pac-12 and Oregon coach Jim Lanning pulled no punches when asked about Colorado’s departure.
“Not a big reaction,” Lanning said at Oregon’s preseason media day. “I’m trying to remember what they won to affect this conference. I don’t remember. Do you remember them winning anything? I don’t remember them winning anything.”
First-year Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders was irked by the comments. Now the two coaches will be sharing the field in a highly anticipated showdown between two 3-0 teams.
While Sanders uses the comments as bulletin board material, Lanning said during Monday’s press conference that he doesn’t need to revise his comments.
“I don’t regret anything I’ve said,” Lanning said. “At the end of the day, I wasn’t talking about Deion’s team, I was talking about the past and future for our team. But if that serves as material for them, great. I don’t think it’s going to have any bearing on the game or the success of the game.”
During Tuesday’s press conference, Sanders played nice and was highly complimentary of Lanning, who went 10-3 last season in his first year with the Ducks.
“What he’s accomplished, stepping in, taking over a program and keeping it not only rocking steady but accelerating it,” Sanders said. “I respect the heck out of him. I love what he’s accomplishing. I love the way he operates. So I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
Colorado had a scare last Saturday night as it had to rally from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit to record a 43-35 double-overtime victory over Colorado State.
Quarterback Shedeur Sanders led the Buffaloes on a late 98-yard drive for touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion with 36 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Shedeur Sanders passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns.
But in the first quarter, two-way standout Travis Hunter was drilled in the midsection by Colorado State safety Henry Blackburn. Hunter eventually exited the game and spent two nights in a Boulder hospital due to a lacerated liver.
Hunter is expected to miss multiple weeks, leaving a void at both receiver and cornerback.
“No one in the country can fill Travis Hunter’s shoes,” Deion Sanders said. “He’s one of a kind. He’s the best player on offense, the best player on defense. That’s just who he is in the country, not just on his team.”
While Colorado is averaging 41.3 points, it allows 30.3 and the defensive unit could have issues corralling the Ducks.
Oregon ranks second in scoring offense at 58 points per game and is coming off a 55-10 trouncing of visiting Hawaii.
Bo Nix is completing 77.6 percent of his passes for 893 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. For comparison, Shedeur Sanders is completing 78.7 percent of his passes for 1,251 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception.
Oregon’s Troy Franklin has 17 receptions for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Bucky Irving (8.0 average, three TDs) and Jordan James (7.4, five) have combined for eight rushing scores.
The Ducks are also stout defensively, allowing 15.7 points and 158.7 passing yards per game. The latter ranks 15th nationally.
Of course, stats are secondary in this matchup.
“I’d be a fool not to recognize all of the success they have created on a team that didn’t have a lot of success before,” Lanning said of Sanders. “He’s done a phenomenal job … They are winning games. It doesn’t matter how but they’re winning games.”
The Ducks have won nine of the past 10 meetings.
–Field Level Media