Matt Rhule examines how Deion Sanders altered the course of collegiate football.

Matt Rhule ignited a new chapter in the college football rivalry between Nebraska and Colorado last season with his provocative remarks about Deion Sanders’ approach to the transfer portal. Sanders said the comments were “personal” as the Buffaloes cruised to a 36-14 win in Boulder. Now, as the rivals gear up for another clash in September, Rhule is praising Sanders for his transformative impact on college football.

“You take Shedeur (Sanders), Travis Hunter, all the players they have, and you take coach Sanders, they’re going to come into our place as a really good football team with dynamic players that you have to compete with,” Rhule said on Big Noon Conversations with Joel Klatt. “How good is it for that part of the country to have this game and to have it be on national TV at night? How good is it for the game of football? I just don’t want football to become this area of the country and this area of the country. I want it to be from coast to coast. I want all 50 states. What Deion has done, in my opinion, is he’s made football relevant to maybe people that weren’t watching it.”

Colorado generated plenty of buzz during its 3-0 start to the 2023 season, but lost eight of the last nine games en route to a 4-8 record in Year 1 under Sanders. Despite the disappointing finish, the Buffaloes were back in the national spotlight after being somewhat irrelevant for much of the past 20 seasons.

Nebraska hosts Colorado inside Memorial Stadium on Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

“People are going to tune in to see them and they’ll have a chance to watch us too,” Rhule said. “If we play well, maybe people will have that same energy about us nationally that they have about them.”

The Huskers will need to better contain Shedeur Sanders if they want to snap a three-game losing streak to Colorado. The star quarterback threw for 392 yards and two touchdowns in the meeting last season despite constant pressure from the Nebraska defense.

“I think the one thing we always have to remember when we talk about Colorado is how great Shedeur (Sanders) is,” Rhule said. “He is one of the best football players I’ve ever coached again. We blitzed him — I think we sacked him like 10 times and we hit him a ton. And he stood in there. I know everybody sees Shedeur on commercials, they see the swagger that he plays with, but he is an unbelievable competitor. And he’s tough.”

 

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