Colorado Football Preview 2024: Can Deion Sanders Live Up to the Hype?

min read
Colorado cornerback Travis Hunter reacts to a play against Utah during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Salt Lake City.
(AP Photo/Rob Gray)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jul 09, 2024, 1:53 PM
  • Colorado Football was picked 11th in the expanded 16-team Big 12 conference.
  • Colorado Football’s win total for 2024 is 5.5 at BetMGM, with juice to the over.

Few college football programs currently attract as many eyeballs as Deion Sanders’ Colorado Buffaloes.

After a rocky and cacophonous first year that included both national acclaim and scorn, Sanders is back alongside quarterback son Shedeur and two-way talent Travis Hunter. 

I’ll talk a little more about the Colorado football odds and futures market in a bit. For now, let’s start with some basics. 

Colorado Football Season Preview

Colorado went 4-8 last year, ultimately cashing a rich 3.5-win total that paid out at +140. Yet, for most viewers, the Buffs’ four-win campaign felt like a bag of missed expectations. 

That’s because Colorado’s season was mostly a tale of two halves. During the first half of the season, Colorado earned head-turning wins against TCU, Nebraska, and Colorado State, cracking the AP Top 25 and launching an unprecedented hype train. Subsequent losses to Oregon and USC quickly brought the championship expectations to heel, but the Deion hype train was still loading passengers.

That brings us to Act 2 of the season: utter collapse. After surviving a three-point game against dreadful Arizona State, Colorado proceeded to lose consecutive games to Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona, Washington State, and Utah. 

Coach Prime was still talking his talk – he is Coach Prime, after all – but the hype train had mostly crashed in a ditch somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

It’s in the ashes of that late-season crash that Colorado is preparing for its 2024 campaign. The offensive sizzle is still there, with many of the skill guys remaining with Colorado in 2024. 

Just as in 2023, Sanders’ maximalist transfer portal usage remains a double-edged sword that can both strengthen and weaken Colorado. By my count, There are more than 50 new players in Colorado this fall when combining players who are transferring in and new high school recruit commitments. 

As for expectations, the college football power structure isn’t expecting much from Colorado in Sanders’ sophomore campaign in Boulder. The Big 12 media placed Colorado 11th (out of 16 teams) in the July preseason poll. BetMGM’s own college football futures market tags Colorado as a +3000 afterthought in a reshaped Big 12 that lacks a dominant title threat. 

Here are some additional thoughts on Colorado’s team strengths and weaknesses in 2024. 

Colorado Football Strengths

  • Passing Game. Quarterback Shedeur Sanders is the preseason Big 12 First-Team quarterback, while Travis Hunter leads a strong group of receivers that includes FAU transfer Lajohntay Wester, Vanderbilt transfer Will Sheppard, and returning Buff Jimmy Horn.
  • Defensive Backs. Everyone understands how good Hunter is on the defensive side of the ball. Colorado adds talented corner Preston Hodge from Liberty and DJ McKinney from Oklahoma State, both of whom should start and be quite effective for Colorado.
  • Special Teams. Colorado struggles with effective depth – in part because of its transfer strategy – but the actual specialists it played in 2023 and retained for 2024 are quite good. Punter Mark Vassett set a school record for punts inside the 10-yard line. 
  • Luck. Last year, the Pac-12 was arguably the best conference in all of college football after years of overall mediocrity. In that tough conference, Sanders’ Buffaloes finished with a 1-7 record. Six of their nine games were decided by one possession. In 2024, with the conference schedule now flipped to a slightly defanged Big 12, how much better is the Colorado record with simply better luck in one-possession games? And what if those games come in a conference that isn’t quite as brutally difficult?

Colorado Football Weaknesses

  • Offensive Line. Colorado’s most critical flaw in 2023 was its utter inability to get consistent blocking from its offensive line. The run game averaged 2.3 yards per carry, while the pass protection allowed a school-record 56 sacks. Some of this might have been talent, but it’s also fair to criticize the way in which these Deion teams have been assembled. Offensive line play is about chemistry and timing – two elements that are mastered slowly, with time and repetition. That can be difficult for a team that has dozens of players constantly coming and going, which means the offensive line may continue to struggle in 2024. New O-Line coach Phil Loadholt has his work cut out for him. 
  • Coaching. One of the observations I recall making last year was that the Coach Prime strategy of Deion hype and transfer poaching could work out spectacularly – but only if he backed it up with a deep bench of hypercompetent college coaching. Go out and grab top position coaches from other schools. Overpay an excellent college play-caller. Assemble a crack staff to handle the boring fundamentals, and that could backstop the Prime Time drama. Instead of doing that, Sanders has mostly gone after big NFL names. Pat Shurmur is calling plays, and former Bengals secondary coach Robert Livingston is his defensive coordinator. He even grabbed Warren Sapp as a graduate assistant. Yes, that Warren Sapp. It’s the sort of coaching staff that looks great on paper. We’ll see how the results turn out. 

Colorado Win Total 2024

At the BetMGM online sportsbook, Colorado’s win total is 5.5, with -145 juice to the over. Bettors can buy the under at (+120). 

As of June 6, 63% of tickets and 79% of the overall handle at BetMGM was on Colorado over 5.5 wins.

For all the win totals and college football odds at BetMGM, make sure you check out my broader college football win totals mega-preview. 

Colorado Win Total Prediction 2024

I am predicting under 5.5 wins for Colorado in 2024.

Colorado could get to six wins this year, and betting overs on 5.5 numbers is generally seen as a strong strategy in college football futures betting

That said, the Buffs have return road games against Nebraska and Colorado State this season, both of which will field improved teams. Utah, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State all project as top conference teams that Colorado may not be good enough to handle. Road games at Kansas, UCF, and Arizona will be difficult outs. 

There are too many scenarios where Colorado loses seven games to consider the over at a -145 cost. If this market was a -110 split, I’d still lean under; with the +120 value return, it becomes hard not to bet.

How To Bet on College Football Futures

College football betting doesn’t stop when the games end in January. You can bet on futures throughout the offseason!

As teams are holding spring practice, adding players from the transfer portal, and releasing depth charts, you can view updated online sports betting odds for a variety of markets, including national championship odds, win totals, and conference champion odds.

If you don’t have an account, register today with BetMGM’s welcome offer. Once you have an account, check for daily sports betting promos.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.