“Don’t wear red in the facility,” Shedeur Sanders said. “We know the history of it. Colorado, we don’t like Nebraska.” The Colorado Buffaloes’ new quarterback even took all the red items off of his online merchandise store earlier this week.

   The Buffaloes’ rivalry with the Nebraska Cornhuskers will be imbued with fresh energy on Saturday at Folsom Field in Boulder as FOX Sports moves into town to feature the Buffs for the second straight week in its “Big Noon” college football broadcast. More than 800 media credentials have been distributed — a new program record, by far — and for the second week in a row, the television audience is expected to be Saturday’s largest by the time Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and Ralphie the Buffalo thunder onto the field for Colorado’s most anticipated home opener in decades.

When the Buffaloes have the ball

   Shedeur Sanders immediately rewrote the Buffaloes’ record book in his debut, setting nine team passing records, including a stunning 510 yards to go along with four touchdowns. Shedeur was quick to throw and deadly accurate, showing tremendous deep-ball touch to complement his smart and savvy play. He has options galore, including wide receivers Travis Hunter (11 catches for 119 yards last week), Jimmy Horn Jr. (11-for-117), and Xavier Weaver (6-for-118). Hunter, who’s also the Buffs’ top defensive back, is an impossibly stunning athlete who has the ability to do whatever he wants on a football field. Weaver’s long strides makes him a weapon on deep sideline routes, and Horn’s shown some sneakiness in the middle of the field.

   “They have the guys,” Nebraska coach Matt Rhule said on Monday. “They can go down the field, and their ball skills are elite. They have a quarterback that can make those throws… His deep-ball accuracy was excellent. His pocket movement was excellent. He played like a guy who’s played a lot of football, and trusted his receivers.”

   Freshman tailback Dylan Edwards (5-for-135) led the team in receiving yards and is explosive with the ball in his hands. Edwards and the Buffs struggled to get traction in the ground game, however, gaining 90 yards between a trio of tailbacks. While they did score a pair of touchdowns on the ground, the averaged only 3.2 yards per carry and had a long gain of only 10. They’ll need to do better than that if they want to slow Nebraska’s pass rush, which collected three sacks in their 13-10 road loss to Minnesota last week, aiding their defense in five deflected or knocked-down passes. They’re a much better defense than the one Colorado faced last week in Fort Worth. If the game stays close, kicker Jace Feely has the leg, but is the accuracy there yet? The coaching staff would rather not find out.

   The Buffs play at warp speed, however, and even though Nebraska has legitimate talent, if Colorado’s offensive line can keep the Cornhuskers away from their Heisman-hopeful quarterback, expect a track meet instead of a football game.

When the Cornhuskers have the ball

   Nebraska believes that its offense is far better than the one seen scoring all of 10 points in Minnesota last week. Colorado believes that its defense is better than the one that surrendered 262 rushing yards and 42 points to TCU.

   “We have to stop the run,” Buffs coach Deion Sanders said. “We have to tackle a lot better. Linebackers have to do their jobs. [Defensive coordinator Charles] Kelly called a great game, [but] we must execute the calls. Great game, great calls; you know what’s supposed to happen, but when it don’t happen, you get upset — and I can’t get upset with the coach. I’m upset with the kids, because I know what’s supposed to happen. And we have to hold those young men accountable, and we will and we have.”

   The Cornhuskers ran for 181 yards on 37 carries last week, 91 of those from athletic signal-caller Jeff Sims. 220-pound sophomore Gabe Ervin Jr. was also effective, though the team wasn’t able to get into the end zone. Nebraska averaged 4.9 yards per carry, but Colorado allowed TCU to average a whopping 7.1 to go along with four touchdowns. The Horned Frogs do have better backs, but those numbers are telling. The Buffs have to stuff the run on early downs for the can force Sims into doing what he doesn’t want to — throw.

   On only 19 attempts last week, Sims completed 11 passes and threw a touchdown, but he also had only 114 yards, and three interceptions. The Buffs’ ball-hawking secondary nabbed a pair of their own last week, and both of them (one by safety Trevor Woods, and a highlight-reel theft by Hunter) prevented would-be touchdowns. Safety Shilo Sanders tied for the team-lead in tackles with rangy linebacker Marvin Ham II, but defensive back Myles Slusher will miss the game with injury. If Colorado can force Sims to the air on third downs, they’ll have a clear and perhaps decisive advantage, but if the defensive line can’t play much better than they did last week, the Cornhuskers may be able to keep the game close by dominating time of possession, and that’s a recipe for an upset.

   Coach Prime knows it, too. “They play hard. They play tough. They’re physical… We must be better defensively.”

What if?

   A win would certainly propel the Buffs even further than their current No. 22 ranking, with a wobbly Colorado State Rams squad scheduled to visit next week, but even that storied rivalry can wait. These are the Nebraska Cornhuskers we’re talking about; the Buffs’ Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates and The Wicked Witch of the West, all wrapped into one.

   The Huskers lead the all-time series with a lopsided, 49-20-2 record, but the Buffaloes have won the last two matchups between these two schools, including a 34-31 overtime victory back in 2019. The Buffs haven’t won three straight against Nebraska in 65 years, but on Saturday, their bold new coach is looking to make another nationally televised statement.

   “I’ve learned the severity — the serious nature — of this rivalry, and I’m embracing it 100%,” Deion Sanders explained. “This is personal.”