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Anyone and everyone who has been following the Colorado Buffaloes during this off-season have had one game circled. It's the Big Noon Saturday opener in Fort Worth. Before we get started, let me say I understand the surface level draw. An unprecedented amount of hype around Deion Sanders' journey to the Power Five has been a fantastic storyline.

After that though, we need to infuse some logic and reason into this media travesty. I have spent most of the day watching and listening to everyone from known college football analysts to basement podcasts. One thing has become abundantly clear. No one outside of Colorado is actually “paying attention” to Colorado.

Most of these talking heads, content creators, and sports analysts operate under the same premises. They all say TCU was the second-best team in the country last year and Colorado barely went 1-11. Let’s nip this in the bud, right now.

The Horned Frogs were last year's national runner-up, but not the second-best team in the country. Maybe they were the 12th-best, if we're being honest, and got hot at exactly the right time. Before anyone suggests I’m being too harsh, they earned “National Championship Game runner-up” by getting taken to town by Georgia. But that does not make them No. 2 in the country.

Don’t take my word for it. The flawed ranking system proves it. Last year’s CFB playoff was Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, TCU. Where is Georgia ranked right now? Of course, No. 1 defending a title. Where is Michigan ranked right now? No shocker at No. 2. Where is Ohio State ranked right now? No. 3. And where is TCU ranked right now? *Checks notes* No. 17. The flip side of that coin is that most of these prognosticators are also looking at Colorado all wrong.

Memo to all college football ‘analysts’, Stop calling this a 1-11 team. You sound ignorant and disregard any progress CU has made with Coach Prime. The only names from last year that should be factoring into this game’s prediction are seven players who stayed after hearing Sanders' Louis luggage speech. That would be safety Trevor Woods, linebacker Marvin Ham II, offensive tackle Gerad Christian-Lichtenham, running back Charlie Offerdahl, tight ends Caleb Fauria, and Louis Passarello.

That's seven out of the 86 players. Those are the only returning players that should factor into the projection. There's a total of nine returning players from 2022. That means 61 of the 70 allowed on gameday are new, upgraded players who were in better situations than being Boulder last year.

For anyone who starts their analysis by saying, “Colorado was a 1-11 team,” that's not a false statement, but building your analysis off of that fact tells me everything that follows will be sensationalized if not categorically incorrect.

Let’s address the top thing none of these people are addressing. What Colorado is doing under Coach Prime has literally never happened before. This isn't your father's college football. Everyone is operating as if what Colorado is doing can be quantified. What they are doing is suggesting that based on past history, no coach has taken over a team that went 1-11, and then went on to win more than four games.

That’s the problem though. There's no precedent for this. No coach has ever overturned 90% of their team in one offseason. It’s never happened.

You don’t have to be a college football historian to understand that. The Transfer portal is only five years old. Prior to that, this concept was not only unheard of, but it was also physically impossible. Make no mistake about it, there is an attempt to discredit CU, mostly due to Coach Prime’s bravado and media presence.

A coach ascending from FCS to Power Five and being immediately successful is bad news for the country club of college football. Most of these analysts are utilizing the same debate strategy to sell this idea that TCU is going to embarrass CU. “Minimizing large details and maximizing smaller ones in order to suit their preconceived conclusion”. This happens everywhere in college football.

It might be the only popular spectator sport where everyone drinks their own Kool-Aid. Everyone wants to believe the players they are looking at are better than they are. “My guys are awesome because they are my guys.”

I just heard someone suggest that TCU QB Chandler Morris was better than last year's Heisman finalist Max Duggan, and therefore Morris is likely to win the award. The rest of the Heisman field notwithstanding, that is ludicrous.

Trey Sanders is a nice piece to get through the transfer portal, but he didn’t exactly kill it at Bama. Kendre Miller was my consensus third RB going into the draft behind only Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs. You aren’t replacing Miller with a Bama castaway.

As for Quentin Johnston, this might be the biggest issue. Johnston is arguably the greatest receiver TCU has ever had. They aren’t replacing him with a next man up scenario. The Frogs are returning the bulk of their defensive unit, but we’re not going to sit here and pretend they had an elite defense to begin with. TCU ranked 95th overall in total defense last year.

Let’s have a little fun with the boxing style ‘tale of the tape’. Colorado QB. Shedeur Sanders, who has his father’s genetics, has been coached by noteworthy coaches and gets individual training from NFL's best Tom Brady. He goes up Morris, a next man up that some inside the state of Texas believes only lost the starting job to Duggan due to injury. It’s Shedeur and it’s not close.

As for running backs, Colorado's Alton McCaskill was productive at Houston, earning AAC Rookie of the Year honors before getting injured last year. Kavosiey Smoke comes from Kentucky where he put up 1,538 yards, 12 TDs, and a 5.2 yds per carry average before 2022. CU's Fall Camp stud rounds out the trio for the Buffs. Dylan Edwards, who was a 4-star recruit to Notre Dame, but came to join Prime. Now, compare that to TCU's Trey Sanders who racked up 102 carries in two years with an underwhelming 448 yards and 2 TDs. Emani Bailey at 112 carries for 702 yards and 8TDs, or Trent Battle with his staggeringly impressive 9 carries for 38 yards.

Is anyone realistically taking the TCU rushers or receivers seriously?

I’m not even going to bother listing this one out. CU goes 9-10 deep in the WR room. TCU has two receivers that move the needle. To take it a step further, I’m not sure JP Richardson, Savion Williams or even Jojo Earle could even make the CU roster. But, hey, it's hard to replace the best receiver in program history.

The tight end battle could go either way.This brings us to “the trenches”, which is everyone’s favorite reason to claim CU won’t win much this year. First and foremost, I’ve got no time for cliches. If there’s something of substance here, fine. But don’t generalize an entire unit because it suits your conclusion. The thing I hear the most about CU’s offensive and defensive lines is “they look small”. Well, don’t base your entire premise on what you see from Well Off Media videos. Remember, these guys aren't in full pads with t-shirts and shorts. Also, I shouldn’t have to say this but evidently, I do.

What you saw in the spring game is not what is running out against TCU. Again, don’t take my word for it, Coach Prime told you this in his Spring Game post-game press conference. He said it multiple times. “The team you saw today will not be the same team we run out against TCU”. Case in point, the defensive line had a total of four players in that Spring Game. Not four starters, but total defensive lineman.

Now, let’s address the “CU lineman are small” nonsense. We’ll even go above college and look at what great lineman are expected to be size wise at the NFL level.

Offensive tackle: 6’3-6’7 and 305-340 LBS

Offensive guard: 6’2-6’4 and 290-330 LBS

Defensive tackle: 6’1-6’4 and 285-330 LBS

Defensive end: 6’2-6-6 and 260-290 LBS

Just looking at Colorado's projected starting unit on both sides.

Offensive Line:

OT Christian-Lichtenhan 6’10, 315

OG Tyler Brown 6’3, 310 (recently ruled ineligible for 2023 by the NCAA)

C Van Wells 6’2, 290

OG Jack Bailey 6’3, 280

OT Savion Washington 6’8, 320

Defensive Line:

DE Jordan Domineck 6’3, 250

DT Leonard Payne Jr 6’3, 300

DT Shane Cokes 6’3, 280

DE Derrick McLendon II 6’4, 260

I’d like the TCU apologists or even the national media analysts who keep claiming CU is too small in the trenches to explain exactly what they mean. Or to admit either that those "one liners" are completely made up shenanigans or they never actually looked into it.

It was just something convenient to say that suits their narrative. Short of the DEs needing to add 10-15 lbs, every other player CU has in the trenches fits the NFL standard for size for a lineman in their respective positions. If someone wants to say, “I don’t know how good they will be” that’s understandable. Most fans and regrettably even some analysts need to “see it first”.

That’s a lazy take to have, but understandable. What is not understandable is saying they are “small.” This next part will be quick because I don’t believe it’s remotely debatable. The linebacker debate goes to CU, and it’s not close . I would take Demouy Kennedy and LaVonta Bentley over every single player in the middle of TCU's defense. That’s not even considering Jeremiah Brown, Brenden Gant, and carryover standout Marvin Ham II.

This gets even more ridiculous when we look at the defensive secondary. If Cormani McClain steps in and is a significant starter at any point, the Colorado Buffaloes have arguably the best secondary in all of College Football, full stop. 

Travis Hunter and McClain are the most talented CB tandem in the country, and once again, it’s not even close. Then we add in Shilo Sanders, who seems to be on a mission this year. If he's lighting up his own teammates in practice, imagine what's going to happen against the Buffs' opponents. Trevor Woods understood the assignment, along with Jackson State transfer Cam’ron Silmon-Craig, who is flying around everywhere.

So, in both cases, the secondary and linebackers go to CU by a mile. Don’t get me wrong, I think CB Josh Newton at TCU is a really solid DB. He doesn’t even register when compared to the 5-star ability of Hunter and McClain. I’ve said for months now, anyone who gets pass happy against CU does so at their own peril. 

So, now that we’ve covered the positions groups, here’s the recap:

In favor of CU: QB, RB, WR, LB, DB

In favor of TCU: OL

Could go either way: TE, DL

After all of that, if TCU owns a clear advantage it's in only one position group. That being the offensive line, and I’m only willing to concede that until we have a chance to see CU’s against a live-fire pass rush. The defensive lineman battle could go either way, but I’d still put my money on Jordan Domineck, Shane Cokes, and the rest of the Buffs, if I had to choose.

TCU has no clear advantage anywhere. Whereas, Colorado has a clear advantage in a number of areas. If you listen to these ‘experts’ they would all have you believing that this game is about to be a landslide thumping at the hands of TCU. In fact, ESPN's senior writer said it would be "half-a-hundred."

I am still left to ask, based on what?

The overwhelming consensus from non-Colorado analysts is that TCU will win by something between 25-40 points. That is insane and we’ll get to that in a moment. Before we do, let’s look at point totals and coaching changes.

In 2022, TCU went on to have a historic run. In this run where they had Duggan, Miller, and Johnston, they must’ve throttled CU with their 1-11 roster, right? For TCU to currently be getting 20.5 and most people thinking it’ll be closer to +40, they must’ve beat the brakes off CU last year by 60+. No, the final score was 38-13. 

Sidenote: I actually went back and watched that game and virtually every single big play TCU had was the result of a lack of athleticism. The big kick-off return should’ve never happened. There was a touchdown run that should’ve been a 4-6 yard TFL. The big plays from their WR's (including Johnston) were blown coverage/missed assignment level screw ups.

TCU put up 50+ only 4 times. At Tarleton State (yeah, I had to look that up), at home against an eventual 3-6 Oklahoma team, at home against a 1-8 Iowa St team, and then the shocker of the CFB Playoff, when they somehow put up 51 points on Michigan. The "Football Gods" were with the Frogs at the stroke of Midnight to ring in the New Year. But they were still decimated by Georgia to the tune of 65-7. Where’s all this 40+ nonsense coming from? We’ll get to that after talking about coaching.

Sonny Dykes is a quality coach in his own right. The Frogs, however, are breaking in a new offensive coordinator. So, what they have is a good head coach and two coordinators that essentially run what Dykes tells them to run.

Coach Prime has an offensive coordinator that was Kent State's head coach last year. Sean Lewis was responsible for the most electric offense in college football. Oh, and Sanders' defensive coordinator was picked away from Alabama. We won't go into position coaches, but rest assured that Prime built up a staff of high-quality personnel.

The coaching edge goes to Colorado and again…not even close.

We already mentioned that TCU took a serious 'L' against Georgia. I was just curious, did Lewis have a better outing against the champs while at Kent State? Not only did his offense answer the call, but the defense held up better than TCU.

Kent State went into Athens, GA and put up 22 points on Georgia while holding them to under 40. Lewis brings a version of that offense to Boulder with more explosive athletes, and these experts seem to think Colorado won’t be able to move the ball on a TCU defense? What stats are they breaking down? That is somewhere between underwhelming and a little above average.

On the other side, Kelly making the transition from Alabama was front and center, but the Tide doesn’t really play anybody out of conference that scares anyone.That should be no secret at this point. LA-Monroe, Austin Peay, and Kansas State last year. Of those, the closest one to TCU is K-State.

The Wildcats barely put up 20 on the Tide. Yes, I know, Alabama still has talent CU doesn’t have, especially on the defensive line. But the system is still the system. College Football has an issue that needs to be rectified at least by those that cover the sport, if not the fans that follow that sport. Any type of realistic projections or rankings have not been a thing for a very long time.

Seriously, ask yourself “how many times has a high-ranking team projected to win big over an unranked team and the opposite happens?”

The answer is almost weekly. Especially in the 2022 season.

Week 1 of last year, No. 7 Utah loses to unranked Florida 29-26. In week 2, top-ranked Alabama beats unranked S. Carolina by one point. Also, in the same week, No. 8 Notre Dame loses to unranked Marshall, 26-21. And for whoever watched 21st-ranked BYU beat 9th-ranked Baylor, 26-20, it was a drama-filled game.

I could go on, but it should be obvious that I don’t have to. It happens almost every week. How many times does a team outside the top 15 end up in the playoff hunt? Way more often than you’d probably guess. Last year’s answer was TCU, who started the season at No. 16 in the AP poll. The root of this issue comes from people overvaluing and undervaluing details.

For example, TCU is not a completely new team. Yeah, that’s true. But deducing that newness equals inexperienced is flawed. Colorado has more players that have faced real competition with more Power Five experience than TCU does.The newness in this regard is not a negative. It’s an emphatic positive. The only way a prediction that TCU wins by 40+ (which is what an alarming number of people are predicting) makes any sense at all, is if Coach Prime didn’t upgrade 90% of the roster.

If Deion Sanders decided to coach the 1-11 team he inherited, that is the ONLY way these predictions make any sense. With all that being said, what is a realistic projection? I have no issue with TCU having a slight home field advantage on the betting line. All factors being considered, whether it be Vegas, CBS, FOX, or any CFB YouTuber paying their parent's mortgage, the -20.5 point spread, is nothing short of disrespectful.

The betting line for the Colorado Buffaloes post-Sanders and post-transfer portal should’ve started at somewhere between -3 and -10. As we’ve moved through the offseason, the only logical shift should’ve been the line getting narrower, not wider. Even now, mere days away from CU and TCU kicking off, the game should at this point, almost be a tossup.

Because of the newness, I didn’t at any point expect to see the Buffaloes as a favorite against a ranked team this early. What I did expect to see though, is some sense of analytical objectivity. However, that is something we cannot come to expect from most college football analysts in this current landscape.

I expect this game to be closer than people think early on. Unless Shedeur runs for his life, I expect a Colorado win. To be honest, I can’t fathom anyone looking at this objectively that doesn’t at least believe TCU is on upset watch. The real fun aspect to this game is what happens if CU wins?

Not a huge hot take in my opinion, but what happens then? Do these football pundits wake up a little or do they continue to bet against Coach Prime?

My guess is CU would have to beat everyone they are supposed to beat, and also steal one game from either Oregon, USC, or UCLA (I don’t think it will be Oregon) before the media machine even attempts to look at CU objectively.