How long will No. 18 Colorado stay in the national limelight?
As long as quarterback Shedeur Sanders keeps doing what he's doing.
Sanders – who has put up 903 passing yards, six TDs and no interceptions through two games – will lead the Buffaloes into a Week 3 matchup against rival Colorado State at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday. Sanders keyed Colorado's 2-0 start under Deion Sanders, who doubles as Shedeur's coach and father. Deion Sanders expanded on that relationship and their pregame routine with The Pat McAfee Show this week.
"We've been doing (a pre-game walk) for a long time, for years, so when we go down from the 40-yard line to the goal line I'm dad," Sanders said. "When we touch that goal line and come back, I'm the coach. It always ends with, ‘Let 'em know.' I want them to know our last name when we walk off this darn field. Who are you? He'll say, ‘I'm a Sanders.'"
The rest of the FBS is finding that out. Here is a closer look at the incredible two-week stretch Sanders has enjoyed – and what lies ahead for the Colorado quarterback.
Shedeur Sanders 2023 statistics
Shedeur Sanders leads the FBS with 451.5 yards per game through two weeks. He passed for 510 yards in Week 1 against TCU and followed up with 393 passing yards against Nebraska in Week 2. He followed up a four-TD performance against the Horned Frogs with two TD passes against the Huskers.
Those totals are nice, but a look inside those numbers shows just how good Sanders has been so far.
Shedeur Sanders advanced QB stats
Tim Tebow – who won the 2008 Heisman Trophy and two nationals championships at Florida – has watched Sanders on "All 22" film the last two weeks. Three areas stand out: Third down, fourth down and red-zone throws.
"These numbers in clutch situations are ridiculous," Tebow told Sporting News. "You would expect that to be first-down numbers on tunnel screens, not third down, fourth down, red zone. When it matters the most, he plays his best."
On third down, Sanders is 17 of 23 for 250 yards and two TDs. Colorado ranks 11th in the FBS in third-down percentage at 57.6%. On fourth down, Sanders is 2 of 2 for 54 yards and a TD, and he is 9 of 14 for 45 yards and three TDs in the red zone.
Sanders also is 48 of 52 on throws of either 0-9 yards or behind the line of scrimmage, according to Pro Football Focus. That accuracy has been huge for Colorado in the first two weeks.
Colorado is one of only two teams with two Power 5 wins in the first two weeks.
Shedeur Sanders vs. other top college QBs
Sanders has been performing at a level that makes him a Heisman Trophy contender. According to BetMGM.com, Sanders' odds are at +1800.
Here is a look at Sanders' number compared to the nine quarterbacks on unbeaten top-10 teams through the first two weeks.
|Shedeur Sanders, Colorado||75.3%||451.5||11.1||14.8||6||0|
|Michael Penix, Washington||73.1%||429.5||11.0||15.1||8||1|
|Quinn Ewers, Texas||63.2%||304.5||9.0||14.2||6||0|
|Caleb Williams, USC||78.6%||292.7||12.5||16.0||12||0|
|Carson Beck, Georgia||72.1%||288.5||9.5||13.1||3||1|
|J.J. McCarthy, Michigan||87.3%||279.0||10.1||11.6||5||0|
|Drew Allar, Penn State||78.2%||264.5||9.6||12.3||4||0|
|Jordan Travis, Florida State||63.3%||258.5||8.6||13.6||6||1|
|Kyle McCord, Ohio State||64.2%||248.5||9.4||14.6||3||1|
|Sam Hartman, Notre Dame||75.0%||243.7||11.4||15.2||10||0|
Among these 10 quarterbacks, Sanders ranks second in yards per attempt behind Caleb Williams, third in yards per completion behind Williams and Michael Penix and fourth in completion percentage behind J.J. McCarthy, Williams and Drew Allar. The numbers aren't lying. Sanders is performing like an elite quarterback who plays for a College Football Playoff contender.
The key to staying there will be maintaining that high level of play against Pac-12 defenses. According to PFF, Sanders has taken eight of his 11 sacks when opposing defenses do not blitz, and those sacks are a product of extending plays in the pocket. He's 22 of 34 with a 64.7% completion percentage when teams do blitz.
Will Shedeur Sanders lead Colorado to Pac-12 title?
This list does not include Oregon's Bo Nix, who has the same Heisman odds as Sanders and will play against the Buffaloes in Week 4. That's part of a schedule in which Colorado will face six ranked teams in its final nine games.
The matchups against No. 13 Oregon and the Sept. 30 showdown against No. 5 USC and Williams – the reigning Heisman Trophy winner – are bound to get the most attention. Colorado does not play Washington in Pac-12 play, but they do play No. 24 UCLA, No. 16 Oregon State, No. 23 Washington State and No. 12 Utah.
Sanders will get more than enough opportunities to prove it against the best quarterbacks in the FBS.
Will Shedeur Sanders be a first-round pick?
This week, ESPN's Mel Kiper said he moved Sanders up to the No. 3 quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft behind Williams and North Carolina's Drake Maye.
"If he stays at Colorado, we'll be talking about him next summer like we're talking about Caleb Williams right now – No. 1 pick guaranteed," Kiper said on Monday via On3.com. "So he's got a decision to make."
In other words, it will be interesting if he keeps doing what he's been doing.
Shedeur Sanders Heisman Trophy odds
Sanders is +1800 to win the Heisman Trophy; the same odds as Oregon quarterback Nix. Five players have better odds in Williams (+350), Penix Jr. (+850), Travis (+850), Ewers (+900) and McCarthy (+1400).
Updated odds, courtesy of BetMGM. Click here to sign up!
Shedeur Sanders' next game: Colorado vs. Colorado State
Sanders faces a Colorado State defense that allowed 451 yards and three TDs to Washington State's Cam Ward in Week 1. Here is how to watch the matchup between the Buffaloes and Rams:
- Date: Saturday, September 16
- Time: 10 p.m. ET | 7 p.m. PT
- TV channel (national): ESPN
- Live stream: ESPN+, Fubo
Saturday's Colorado vs. Colorado State game will be broadcast on ESPN. Cord-cutters can watch on ESPN+, as well as Fubo, which offers a free trial to new subscribers.