In Week 4 of the 2023 college football season, all eyes will be on Deion Sanders and No. 19 Colorado as they head to Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon, to face Dan Lanning and No. 10 Oregon. The past three games have each proved to be a solid test for a Colorado team that went 1-11 last season and now stands just one game away from surpassing its preseason projected win total of 3.5 games. The game will also feature two high-powered offenses led by star quarterbacks Shedeur Sanders and Bo Nix. Each team will look to make its case for Pac-12 supremacy in what will be their final year in the conference.
From a betting perspective, this game offers an intriguing angle. The Buffs enter Saturday afternoon as 21-point underdogs with the total set at 70.5 points. The last time Colorado was a three-touchdown underdog, in Week 1 against TCU, they ended up winning outright and ranked in the AP Top 25 the following week. Will Coach Prime's magic continue in the Pac-12 opener? How should you approach betting on this game, and how does it affect the futures market for the Heisman Trophy?
Jorge Sedano, Matt Miller, Dalen Cuff and Kevin Haswell are here to break it all down and give their best advice heading into Saturday.
All odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook
Will the nation finally believe in Deion Sanders and Colorado after this weekend's game, or will Oregon put a halt to the conversation?
Matt Miller: If this game were in Boulder, I'd feel differently, but at Autzen Stadium with the students rocking the place for an early game will be electric -- and that's something Colorado hasn't faced on the road yet (sorry, TCU). However, 21 points is a lot, and we have seen a ton of poise from the Buffs early this year. I'm taking the over, but Colorado to cover the spread (+21).
Dalen Cuff: I think the magic runs out for the Buffs on the road Saturday. Colorado has an elite QB in Shedeur Sanders and high-level weapons (even without Travis Hunter), but the issue is the offensive line. They have allowed 16 sacks (5.3 per game, second worst in FBS) and struggled to get going in each of their past two games against Nebraska and Colorado State. In a rowdy Autzen Stadium, with significantly more talented players and a high-level coach in Dan Lanning, I think the Ducks come out flying. The back-door cover of +21 scares me, but I think the Ducks roll early and cover the first half spread (-11.5).
Kevin Haswell: Week 4 might be when Deion Sanders' luck runs out. Colorado's offense has been impressive, especially through the air (1,254 passing yards, second in FBS), but it has had struggles running the ball effectively. Entering this week, the Buffaloes have run for just 183 yards across three games, 129th in the FBS. I'd take Oregon to cover (-21).
Are you buying the hype on Shedeur Sanders (+1200) making his case for Heisman Trophy or will Bo Nix (+2200) and Caleb Williams (+325) outshine him over the next two weeks?
Jorge Sedano: I am buying the hype. Though, Shedeur will have stiff competition in his own conference. The Pac-12 is loaded talent with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and Washington's Michael Penix Jr (Sorry Ducks fans -- I don't have Nix in my top 3 Pac-12 QBs). Shedeur showed how special he is on that 98-yard game winning drive against Colorado State. He tucked it and ran when he needed to and threw some dimes. He did everything possible to make sure his team got the win on that drive. One other thing that has stuck out to me is how he has handled passing the ball under duress. Shedeur has faced the seventh-highest pressure by an FBS QB this season, but he has not let it get to him, completing an FBS-best 70% of passes under pressure with an FBS-high 587 yards and seven touchdowns.
Matt Miller: I'm going to split the middle here. I think Sanders will outduel Nix this weekend, but we'll see Caleb Williams outshine Shedeur in a game that will feature very little defense at all (take the over in that one). Sanders is a distributor and a playmaker who is great at getting the football to his support staff where they can make big plays. Oregon has a talented defense, but I do like the group of Xavier Weaver, Jimmy Horn Jr., and Dylan Edwards to allow Sanders to continue rising up Heisman boards.
Kevin Haswell: I don't think betting on Shedeur Sanders to win the Heisman is a good play, especially at this point. He has been sacked 15 times (fourth most in FBS), and I don't think that his pass protection improves over the next two weeks when they face Oregon and USC. To that point, Sanders has been good at handling the pressure, but we'll see if that continues that without Travis Hunter.
Dalen Cuff: I don't think this game is about outdueling Nix, but even if Shedeur does, I don't think betting on him to win the Heisman is the way to go. The Buffs are going to have some tough nights ahead in a very good Pac-12. While Sanders can still have a great season, holding the Heisman at the end is a really long shot.
Colorado entered the season with a projected win total of 3.5 games. After four weeks, it is one win away from surpassing that total and cashing tickets. The Buffaloes would be the first FBS team to pass their win total this season. Can Coach Prime, Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter insert themselves into the Pac-12 (+650) title conversation in their final year in the conference?
Matt Miller: I think this is a seven- or eight-win team right now -- and we haven't yet seen the impact that losing Travis Hunter for an indefinite period of time will have on both sides of the ball. Colorado is a great story and I'm rooting for them weekly it feels like, but they're still chasing USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks and Utah Utes in the Pac-12.
Jorge Sedano: I don't want to be labeled a "non-believer"! However, the Pac-12 hasn't been this good in decades. These next two weeks against Oregon and USC will be telling for Colorado. If it wins the next two games, it could find itself in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 championship game. Not to mention, the back end of the schedule is pretty tough. Four of Colorado's last five games are against ranked opponents, and three of those five are on the road against UCLA, Washington State and the reigning back-to-back Pac-12 champs, the Utah Utes.
Kevin Haswell: While Colorado has been a tremendous story, there are four teams clearly better than it in the Pac-12, Utah, Oregon, Washington and USC. The Buffaloes have six games remaining against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, and ESPN Analytics has them favored in none of those games. I would stay away from betting Colorado to win the Pac-12.
Dalen Cuff: Colorado will remain a great story and a ratings bonanza, but it will not be competing for the title. The Pac-12 is too deep with teams that are more complete than the Buffs.