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Shedeur Sanders sticks up for his dad before kickoff, stands behind defense after beating Nebraska

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Deion Sanders pledged to fix the one blemish of the Colorado Buffaloes' dazzling debut last week at TCU, where they yielded 541 yards and gave up a half dozen touchdowns.

“Defensively, it looks like we played like garbage because we surrendered so many yards and points,” Sanders said during the week. “And we're gonna fix that.”

It didn't take Coach Prime or the No. 22 Buffs long to deliver on that promise.

The Buffaloes throttled the Nebraska Cornhuskers 36-14 in their home opener Saturday when they amassed four takeaways and two fourth-down stops, allowing just one score on a dozen drives before the backups gave up a meaningless last-second touchdown.

“Hats off to the defense,” said Coach Prime, who credited the unit with keeping the Buffs grounded until the offense finally got going — they scored seven times in eight possessions after starting the game with four punts.

“I truly appreciate going through this game with my team so we know how to respond when adversity hits,” Buffs quarterback Shedeur Sanders said. “Because last week, it was back and forth, back and forth” in their 45-42 win over the Horned Frogs that sent shockwaves through college football. "But this week, OK, the defense stepped up. Offense was really slacking."

Maybe it was the 10 o'clock kickoff, but the snoozing Buffs finally woke up with two field goals and a 30-yard touchdown catch by Tar'Varish Dawson over the final 4:20 of the second quarter to give the Buffaloes a 13-0 halftime lead.

Maybe it was another fiery halftime speech, but the Buffs poured it on after turning the ball over on downs on the opening drive of the second half.

Shedeur Sanders capped the 23-0 outburst with a 6-yard touchdown run, then broke into an imitation of his father's famous “ Deion Shuffle," back when his dad was known as “Neon Deion” during his Hall of Fame playing career.

“The dance, it's in my blood,” Shedeur Sanders explained. “So, I give it 10 out of 10. I think I did it better than him, honestly.”

Baloney, retorted his dad.

“It was horrible," argued Deion. "Shedeur's not a dancer. I can't dance, either. The only dancer in our family is Bossy, my daughter. She's the only one that really has rhythm. The rest of us didn't get that. The Lord passed us when it came to dancing.”

One thing Shedeur Sanders did inherit was his father's famous bravado.

The quarterback took offense when Nebraska coach Matt Rhule gathered his players during pregame warmups on the CU Buffalos black-and-gold midfield logo. Sanders hustled over to break up the huddle and move the Huskers along.

“If a couple of players do it, that's fine, just enjoy the scenery,” Shedeur Sanders said. “But when you got the whole team trying to disrespect it, I'm not going for that at all. So, I went over there and disrupted it.”

After all, “This is personal,” was Coach Prime's theme for the week. Not only was that a nod to the storied nature of the old rivalry, but the Buffaloes took note of some critical comments out of Lincoln in the spring.

Notably, Rhule spoke about being excited to coach the players he inherited when he took over the program while others were more excited about players coming over via the transfer portal.

The Buffs viewed that as yet another shot at Coach Prime, who made no secret about using a ton of transfers to transform a moribund program that went 1-11 last year and has been in a death spiral for more than a decade.

“The coach said a lot of things about my pops, about the program,” recounted Shedeur Sanders. “And now that he wants to act nice, I don't respect that because you hated on another man. You shouldn't do that."

The coach appreciated his son having his back.

“To take the onus on himself when someone talks about me, that's how he grew up,” explained the elder Sanders. “If someone talked about my kids, I handled it. That's the expectation of a father — not a baby daddy, but the father — I'm a real father, and I take pride in that. And I try to teach my sons the same.”

While Shedeur Sanders piled up nearly 400 yards through the air, older brother Shilo Sanders, a defensive back, helped the Buffaloes dominate on defense, eventually knocking quarterback Jeff Sims (left ankle) from the game.

“Overall they played really well and we're proud of them,” Coach Prime said of his defenders. “But we still have to fix some things if we want to be who we want to be.”

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll