BOULDER, Colo. — His mom gave the pregame speech. One of his sons, the defensive back, started the scoring with an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown. Another of his sons, the quarterback, won it by leading a 98-yard drive for the ages to set up a double-overtime thriller that won't be soon forgotten.
It was quite a day for Deion Sanders. With a bunch of celebrity friends in town, too, to take it all in.
Shedeur Sanders threw a touchdown pass to Michael Harrison in the second overtime after leading the drive to tie the game with 36 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, and No. 18 Colorado rallied to beat Colorado State 43-35 early Sunday in front of a full house packed with famous names.
Sanders connected with Harrison for an 18-yard score and then found an open Xavier Weaver on the 2-point conversion. The Colorado defense took it from there, with Trevor Woods intercepting Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi's pass on fourth-and-23 to end the game at nearly 12:30 a.m. local time.
It set off a celebration as fans rushed the field for a second straight week. This was the biggest fourth-quarter comeback for Colorado since 2005.
"We showed that we have no surrender or give up in us," said the elder Sanders, in his first year as head coach of the Buffaloes. "They never doubted themselves."
In the first extra period, Shedeur Sanders patiently waited in the pocket until Harrison got open for a 3-yard score. The Rams' Fowler-Nicolosi followed by connecting with Tory Horton on an 8-yard score.
With 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, Sanders and the Buffaloes (3-0) got the ball back on the 2-yard line and trailing 28-20. He led a seven-play drive that culminated with a 45-yard TD pass to Jimmy Horn Jr. with 36 seconds left. Sanders hit Harrison for the 2-point conversion.
"Well, we do it in practice all the time, so it's not really a surprise to us," Sanders said of the 98-yard drive. "We like these high-pressure moments"
His dad never doubted.
"This is who he is," Coach Sanders said.
Despite being listed as 23 1/2-point underdogs, the Rams (0-2) led for a large chunk of the rivalry game billed as the Rocky Mountain Showdown. Their unraveling was 17 penalties for 182 yards, including a flag for a block below the waist that nullified a touchdown in the second overtime.
Rams coach Jay Norvell added spice to the matchup earlier in the week by taking a jab at Coach Sanders for not taking off his sunglasses and hat in interviews. After the game, Sanders and Norvell shook hands near midfield amid a sea of fans.
"This rivalry has been going on way longer and before I got here," said Norvell, who's in his second season at Colorado State. "It's going to be going on way after I leave."
As for their squabble, it's water under the bridge to Sanders.
"I wish the best for him," the coach said.
Sanders and the Buffaloes fed off the perceived slight all the way into the game. Shilo Sanders donned sunglasses after his 80-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter as his proud father raced down the sideline in happiness.
"Those ticket prices were worth it today," Shilo said.
Shedeur Sanders finished with 348 yards, four touchdowns and one interception for the Buffaloes, who won their sixth straight in the series with the Rams. By the end of the game, the Buffs were missing receiver/cornerback Travis Hunter, who was ruled out in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury and taken to the hospital for further evaluation. He could be out a few weeks.
Colorado State put an open date last week to good use by finding ways to contain Sanders and the explosive Colorado offense for moments of the game. The Rams tried to spoil the party hosted by Coach Sanders, the former Florida State and NFL cornerback known as "Prime Time" during his playing days, who had big-name celebrities such as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and rapper Lil Wayne in town.
Fowler-Nicolosi had 367 yards and three touchdowns, while receiver Tory Horton caught a touchdown pass and threw another on a trick play to tight end Dallin Holker.
"Every loss hurts, but this one does hurt a little more just the way we lost it," Fowler-Nicolosi said. "It's brutal."
It was chippy at times, with Rams defensive lineman Mohamed Kamara getting a finger in the face mask from Shedeur Sanders after a play. Kamara was later disqualified in overtime after being called for targeting on Sanders.
The emotions heated up early, too, with both teams gathering at midfield about an hour before kickoff and exchanging some words. Hunter left the gathering to run over to the student section and fire up the fans.
Coach Sanders has turned the Buffs into the talk of college football since taking over a team that went 1-11 last season.
This weekend, both ESPN's "College GameDay" and Fox's "Big Noon Kickoff" programs were on campus. Some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment turned up in Boulder, including "The Rock" appearing on the set of "GameDay," where he took off his jacket to reveal he was wearing Shedeur Sanders' No. 2 jersey. The Buffs took the field to a min concert performed by Lil Wayne in the end zone just before kickoff (Deion gifted him a jersey).
"They've got Lil Wayne over here, Coach Prime doing his thing. They've got a whole animal running around," Shilo Sanders said of the pregame festivities that also included the live buffalo mascot Ralphie running on the field. "I would've been so scared if I was the other team."
The announced attendance was 53,141 in a game where tickets were going for an average purchase price is $214, according to TickPick. The Buffaloes have sold out five home games this season and are close to selling out a sixth (Arizona on Nov. 11).