Colorado and Colorado State were as chippy as advertised, but the bad blood reached a new level late in the first quarter on Saturday when Buffaloes star Travis Hunter went down with a foul hit.
The goal came on a second-and-10 pass from Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders to a tightly covered Hunter. The play seemingly ended when Hunter failed to get the ball downfield, but then Colorado State safety (and captain) Henry Blackburn came in with an extremely late goal that tied the former five-star recruit.
Hunter remained on the sideline and did not return for the remainder of the drive, but he eventually returned at cornerback at the end of the Rams’ next offensive drive. Blackburn was flagged for unnecessary roughness, while cornerback Ayden Hector was called for pass interference on Hunter.
A nasty matchup between Colorado and Colorado State wouldn’t have gotten much attention last year, but things have clearly changed with the arrival of head coach Deion Sanders. This year, Blackburn’s hit was noticed by many famous guests from Colorado, such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Offset, while LeBron James expressed his outrage from home:
Like I don’t understand the difference between targeting and what I just saw. I’ve seen others throw them away for much less. That was blatant and inappropriate IMO!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 17, 2023
The penalty was preceded by much bickering between the two sides in the interstate rivalry, both in the week leading up to the match and during the warm-up.
Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell caught Sanders’ attention Wednesday with some pointed comments. He said he was “tired” of the attention Colorado was getting and “when I talk to adults, I take off my hat and my glasses.”
Sanders responded by saying Norvell made the match “personal.” His son Shedeur and Hunter both seemed to take that to heart before the game got into a pregame scrum with Colorado State players after a Rams player allegedly hit a ball from Hunter.