The Colorado coach is completely responsible for the frenzy to come inside Folsom Field.
The iconic stadium, which opened in 1924, will be filled to capacity — ticket prices are through the roof — in the home debut for Sanders on Saturday when the 22nd-ranked Buffaloes host longtime rival Nebraska.
Sanders is well on his way to restoring the shine to a downtrodden program that's coming off a 1-11 season. He teased what his overhauled roster was capable of when the Buffaloes (1-0) beat a nationally ranked TCU squad on the road last week.
The Colorado-Nebraska game remains one of the hottest regular-season tickets in college football history, with a seat going for an average price of more than $400, according to TickPick.
“The light is shining upon us,” Sanders said, “and we’re thankful for that.”
This weekend, there could be celebrities sightings galore around town, along with plenty of former Buffaloes making their way back to Folsom Field. Through it all, Sanders is just trying to keep the focus on the field. Because Nebraska coach Matt Rhule is trying to do the exact same thing — turn around a program that's fallen on lean times.
Rhule once led Temple to back-to-back bowl appearances, and also turned Baylor from an 11-loss team into an 11-game winner. He's making his return to the college sideline with Nebraska after being let go by the Carolina Panthers.
“He’s done a phenomenal job with (Nebraska) and trying to get them in the right direction,” Sanders said. “They play hard. They play tough. They’re physical."
The respect is mutual.
“His poster was on people’s walls when he was a player, because (Sanders) is one of the most hard-working players who played the game,” said Rhule, whose team is coming off a 13-10 season-opening loss at Minnesota. “Why would we think his team would not be the same?”
The Buffaloes boast a trio of players coming off big games against TCU in quarterback Shedeur Sanders, cornerback/receiver Travis Hunter and running back Dylan Edwards. They all picked up Pac-12 awards this week for their performances against TCU.
For Rhule and the Cornhuskers, it's about stopping them — and not getting caught up in the Deion Sanders Show.
“If we can’t lock in and just play football then nothing I say will matter,” Rhule said. “The pregame pageantry will all be over. It’ll be football once the game kicks off.”
The first game at the stadium now called Folsom Field was on Oct. 11, 1924, when Colorado beat Regis College 39-0. It originally was known as Colorado Stadium until it was changed to Folsom Field in 1944 to honor legendary coach Frederick Folsom. He spent three different stints as the coach of Colorado between 1895 and 1915. He coached a total of 15 years and went 77-23-2.
Being a defensive back, Nebraska’s Omar Brown can’t help but look up to Deion Sanders, the NFL Hall of Famer who was one of the best DBs ever to roam the field.
“That’s obviously the GOAT," Brown said. “Him being a coach now it brings in a different perspective and you obviously have to give Coach Sanders his props as well as respect.”
The Huskers have dropped four nonconference road games in a row, including a 34-31 overtime loss in Boulder in 2019. Their last non-conference road win was in 2014, when they beat Fresno State 55-19.
The Cornhuskers lead the all-time series 49-20-2, including 23-11-2 in Boulder. But the Buffaloes have won two in a row and have a chance at their first three-game winning streak in the rivalry since the 1950s.
They were in the same conference from 1948 to 2010 before Nebraska moved to Big Ten and the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12. Colorado will relocate to the Big 12 next season.
ALUMNI, COME ON BACK
Sanders is doing everything he can to make past Buffaloes players feel welcome.
“I wouldn’t be here in this building if it weren’t for them," Sanders said.
Daniel Graham, a tight end inducted into the school's hall of fame, appreciates the support.
“It means everything to us,” said Graham, who will be in attendance this weekend.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll