It’s the best time of the best time of the year: the official kickoff of college football season, when every gridiron enthusiast in the nation (minus those whose hopes got squished in last Saturday’s two Week 0 contests) can delude themselves into thinking that their teams could be a national championship contender. And for the first time in a long time, the University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes, under the leadership of head coach Deion Sanders, may actually be worth daydreaming about.

Now, as a lifelong fan of the University of Notre Dame’s pigskin pursuits, I know a lot about self-delusion, irrational expectations, and crushing heartbreak. I also know a lot about the time-honored tradition of enduring slights from talking heads who, sure, may do this for a living but certainly have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to my guys. I think it’s fair to say, however, that the Buffs—completely remade under first-year, much-buzzed-about head coach Deion Sanders—have gotten more than their share of unfair takes from oddsmakers and the national media. Here, we present five of them and why we (delusionally?) think the boys from Boulder are going to prove them wrong, starting with their opener at TCU this Saturday.

TCU is a 20.5 point favorite over the Buffs, per DraftKings Sportsbook

The absurdity of this spread admittedly has about as much to do with how overrated last year’s College Football Playoff runner-ups may be as it does with the upgrades (an unprecedented 90 percent roster replacement) the Buffs have made since going 1-11 last year. As a reminder, the Horned Frogs took a 65-7 trouncing from the University of Georgia Bulldogs in last season’s national championship game and come into this season (over)ranked at 17. If you’d like more evidence—down to how the heights and weights of the Buffs’ linemen compare to NFL standards—of why this game will be much closer than expected, please enjoy this 3,000-word magnum opus of an op-ed from writer Jason Jones.

ESPN analyst Tom Luginbill suggests the Buffs may have the “worst roster in college football”

The WORST? C’mon. I understand that hyperbole is a necessary linguistic device on podcasts like The Next Round, where ESPN analyst Tom Luginbill dropped this zinger. But to posit that a roster that includes two five-star cornerbacks and a Heisman conversation quarterback—Sanders’ son Shedeur, who threw 70 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last year at Jackson State and gets private coaching from Tom Brady—is a bit much, no?

Spencer Hall, editor of (Every Day Should Be Saturday), predicts Deion Sanders “quits after one year and takes another job”

On the ESPN Daily podcast, Hall bloviated that Sanders will soon recognize that he’s made a serious Gob Bluth. That huge mistake? Hitching his Louis Vuitton–appointed wagon to CU, which the analyst called a “career killer.” First of all, former CU coach Mel Tucker went on to ink a $95 million contract at Michigan State—and if that’s a career killer, please, strike me dead. OK, Tucker only coached at CU for a season before quitting to take the Spartan job. But are you telling me that after all the criticism Sanders has suffered in Boulder, Prime’s pride won’t compel him to stay long enough to slay his doubters? I mean, the guy has built his career on proving haters wrong.

Action Analytics projects the Buffs will notch a total of 1.4 wins

The New York Post rationalizes this absurdity by saying “a complete schematic and personnel overhaul will take time. The Buffaloes will need a few weeks, or the entire season, to build chemistry and become comfortable playing together underneath Sanders and co.” Which makes sense…if this was 1994. Transfer rules have made antiquated ideas about chemistry about as relevant to modern college football as the wishbone offense. Last year, for example, the University of Southern California hired a new coach and brought in 20 new transfers. The 2022 Trojans tallied an 11-3 record, played in the Pac-12 Championship game, and saw their quarterback (transfer Caleb Williams) win the Heisman Trophy. But, yeah, chemistry….

ESPN Analytics gives Nebraska a 71.6 percent chance of beating CU—in Boulder

I’m sorry, but did those meat-mongers figure out a way to clone Tommie Frazier and no one told me? Maybe the NCAA outlawed the forward pass? Oh, I know: They finally thawed Tom Osborne’s frozen carcass? No? Then what gives? Seriously, the once-great Huskers program is more derelict than Grey Gardens—though neither Edie was ever as sad as this fanbase. Nebraska hasn’t won more than five games in any of the past six seasons, and yet new coach Matt Rhule is supposed to scare us? Listen: We might not beat USC, Utah, or Oregon this year, but Nebraska is our first game under Prime at Folsom Field. Come September 9 in Boulder, the atmosphere will be out of control, the Huskers will wilt (as they do), and the Buffs will win in a rout.