BOULDER — Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders directed a game-tying 98-yard scoring drive in the final two minutes of regulation Saturday, then threw two touchdowns in two overtime periods to lead the No. 18 Buffaloes to a come-from-behind 43-35 win over rival Colorado State on Saturday at Folsom Field.

The game finally ended early Sunday morning as a relieved Colorado crowd cheered Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders’ Buffs improving to 3-0 while CSU fell to 0-2.

Colorado’s offense struggled to establish any consistency for much of the game. CU trailed 21-14 at the half — with one of its touchdowns coming on an 80-yard Shilo Sanders interception return — and looked to be in dire straits when CSU took a 28-17 lead with just more than 11 minutes to go in regulation.

But the Buffs cut the margin to 28-20 with a field goal and Colorado’s defense forced a punt with just more than two minutes to play. The kick bounced out of bounds at the CU 2-yard line with 2:06 on the clock — and that was plenty of time for Sanders.

The CU quarterback completed five passes on the drive for 106 yards as CU overcame two penalties on the march. Sanders found a wide-open Jimmy Horn Jr. for a 45-yard score, then connected with tight end Michael Harrison for the two-point conversion to set up overtime.

“We do it in practice all the time so it’s not really a shock or a surprise,” Sanders said of the game-tying drive. “We like those high pressure moments. That’s what we live in. I wish the whole game was just straight that. That’s when I say we excel.”

Sanders then directed two scoring drives in the extra periods, connecting with Harrison both times for scores.

CSU managed a touchdown in the first extra period but the Buffs defense held on the Rams’ second possession to give Colorado the win.

“Great game,” Coach Prime said in his post-game press conference. “We played like garbage in the first half but tried to get it right in the second half offensively as well as giving up some wounds defensively … We did some things that showed we were resilient. We showed that we would fight, we showed that we had no surrender or give up in us … I knew when we got the ball on the two that as long as the ball is Shedeur’s hands, we’re gonna get down this field. I knew that without a shadow of a doubt.”

Colorado finished with 418 yards total offense as Sanders was 38-for-47 for 348 yards, four touchdowns and his first interception of the season. Xavier Weaver had nine catches for 98 yards and a score and Harrison had seven catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns.

CSU had 499 yards total offense but the Rams also had an interception returned for a touchdown, lost a fumble deep in Colorado territory to end a potential scoring drive and threw another interception in the fourth quarter that led to a CU field goal.

HOW IT HAPPENED: The first 30 minutes did not go as planned for the Buffaloes. Sanders threw his first interception of the season on CU’s opening drive, both teams recorded defensive touchdowns and CSU took a 21-14 lead into intermission after Colorado’s offense never really got untracked.

The Buffs did get on the board first, thanks to a Shilo Sanders interception and 80-yard return. The Rams were successful on a 50-yard field goal try two plays earlier, but chose to try to extend the drive after a penalty on the kick.

Sanders made the Rams pay, making a perfect read of CSU quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi to intercept the pass, then race 80 yards untouched to the end zone.

But CSU answered on its ensuing possession. The Rams dialed up a trick play and wide receiver Tory Horton delivered a 30-yard scoring pass to Dallin Holker to tie the game at 7-7.

Colorado then committed its second turnover of the game. Sanders tossed a 10-yard completion to Travis Hunter, only to see the two-way star fumble. CSU’s Ron Hardge III was on the spot to scoop up the loose ball and rumble 45 yards to the end zone for a 14-7 CSU lead with 6:16 still to play in the first quarter.

Late in the half, Hunter became the victim of a vicious late hit. He continued to play for several more series, but ultimately left the game in the second half and did not return. Coach Prime said after the game Hunter would likely be out for “a few weeks.”

CU finally put its offense into high gear on the ensuing possession. Sanders completed three passes on a seven-play, 71-yard scoring march, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Weaver. The CU receiver split the seam against CSU’s zone and Sanders delivered to tie the game at 14-14.

But after the two teams traded punts twice, Colorado State regained the lead. The Rams took 14 plays and 7:27 off the clock to drive 89 yards. Fowler-Nicolisi threaded the needle against CU’s defense for a 15-yard scoring toss to Louis Brown IV and CSU took a 21-14 edge into halftime.

CU’s offense never really found its rhythm in the opening half. The Buffs finished with just 85 yards — 64 in the air — while CSU totaled 262. Sanders did complete 13 of his 16 attempts but never managed to get the ball downfield with any regularity.

The Buffs’ defense set the tone early in the second half. Shilo Sanders forced a fumble deep in CU territory and Derrick McLendon recovered to end a potential CSU drive and the Buffs blocked a 52-yard CSU field goal try on the Rams’ next possession.

The Buffs then drove into CSU territory on the ensuing possession, but a Jace Feely field goal try was blocked.

But Colorado finally put more points on the board. Cam’Ron Silmon-Craig intercepted Fowler-Nicolosi on CSU’s next possession and Colorado’s offense put together a 43-yard scoring drive that ended with a 20-yard Alejandro Mata field goal to cut the Rams’ lead to 21-17 with 14:24 to play.

The Rams, though, had an answer. CSU drove 76 yards to the end zone on its next possession, getting a 35-yard scoring pass from Fowler-Nicolosi to Holker to take a 28-17 lead with 11:22 left in regulation.

Colorado then drove deep into CSU territory. Sanders ran for 24 yards on three carries, Dylan Edwards had a 19-yard run and a Sanders completion to Weaver gave the Buffs a first down at the CSU 15.

But the drive stalled after Sanders was sacked for a 14-yard loss and Colorado settled for a 41-yard Mata field goal to pull within 28-20 with 7:33 to play in regulation.

Colorado’s defense then came up with another big stop, forcing a CSU punt that bounced out of bounds at the Colorado 2-yard line.

That left the Buffs 98-yard away from the end zone with 2:06 on the clock — which proved to be more than enough time for Sanders and Co.

CU’s quarterback calmly directed a seven-play, 98-yard scoring drive. Sanders completed five passes on the drive for 106 yards, finishing the march with a 45-yard scoring toss to Horn with 36 seconds remaining. Sanders then completed a two-point conversion pass to Harrison to knot the game at 28-28 and force overtime.

The Buffs won the toss in the extra period and took first possession. Colorado used back-to-back penalties on the Rams to get to the CSU 6-yard line, and two plays later Sanders connected with Harrison again for the score. Mata’s PAT gave CU a 35-28 lead, the first time the Buffs had been in the lead since taking a 7-0 edge early in the game.

But the Rams had an answer, taking four plays to get to the end zone with Fowler-Nicolosi throwing an 8-yard scoring toss to Horton and the PAT tied the game again at 35-35.

Colorado answered with another touchdown on its next possession with Sanders throwing an 18-yard scoring strike to Harrison. Sanders then connected with Weaver for the 2-point conversion and 43-35 CU lead.

CU’s defense then rose to the occasion one more time, holding the Rams out of the end zone to clinch the win.

TURNING POINT: When the Buffs marched 98 yards for the tying touchdown and two-point conversion to force overtime, it seemed almost inevitable that Colorado would get the win.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffs avoided what would have been a huge upset loss to their in-state rival and will likely move up a spot or two again this week in the national polls.

NEXT UP: The Buffs open Pac-12 play on the road with a 1:30 p.m. (MT) game Saturday at Oregon (ABC).


Story by Neill Woelk, Contributing Editor for Content courtesy of the University of Colorado at Boulder.