Deion Sanders said earlier in September that Shedeur Sanders didn’t want to be a “backseat rider” to Caleb Williams in a hypothetical scenario where Sanders declared for the 2024 NFL Draft.
But at least in the first half Saturday, Shedeur Sanders was the second-best quarterback at Folsom Field in Boulder.
Williams, who’s projected as the top quarterback for the draft class and perhaps the No. 1 overall pick, completed 17-of-20 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns as the Trojans took a commanding 34-14 lead against the Buffaloes — already giving him 22 this season.
If MarShawn Lloyd didn’t have a 27-yard run for USC’s touchdown, that number might’ve been five, too.
Williams had a nifty throw for his first touchdown pass, scanning the pocket on a third-and-4 and rolling to his left before sending a pass to Tahj Washington for a completion that ended with a 71-yard touchdown.
Late in the second quarter, Williams tossed a short pass to Brenden Rice, and he broke a tackle near the sideline and sprinted 26 yards for another score.
“They’re a great team, Caleb is playing wonderful, but we’re helping them doing what they are capable of doing,” Deion Sanders told Fox in a halftime interview.
Williams added another six-yard pass to Rice, a former Buffaloes receiver, to start the second half for USC, and a sixth touchdown pass late in the third quarter, this one a three-yard pass to Jude Wolfe.
For Colorado, Shedeur Sanders completed 16-of-24 passes for 109 yards, one touchdown and one interception, as the Buffaloes struggled against a ranked opponent for the second consecutive week.
Oregon head coach Dan Lanning blasted Colorado in his pregame speech — saying that they’re “fighting for clicks” instead of fighting for wins, as Lanning claimed the Ducks did — and then proceeded to watch his players score 35 points by the time halftime arrived.
That made this weekend’s game critical for the Buffaloes.
They still generated rumors of stars and celebrities attending their game because of Deion Sanders, and they’ll continue to do that for as long as he’s with the program.
But Lanning’s message from the pregame speech remained relevant: Colorado’s Cinderella story has started to fade.
They’re facing players — and teams and coaches — who just might be better than them in Year 1 of the Sanders era.
Williams only confirmed that with his performance in the first half Saturday.