In his first year as the head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, Deion Sanders encountered a series of ups and downs, charting a path through a challenging 4-8 season. Despite the rocky start, Sanders’ optimism and belief in the potential of his team haven’t wavered heading into the 2024 season. The Buffaloes, aiming to redefine their status in the college football landscape, enter the Big 12 with ambitions that reach as high as securing a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The transition into the Big 12 comes at a time when the conference is set to lose two of its most prominent programs, Oklahoma and Texas, to the SEC. This realignment presents both a challenge and an opportunity for Sanders’ Buffaloes. The newly configured 16-team Big 12 holds the promise of at least one playoff spot, making the competition fierce and the stakes incredibly high.
Sanders boldly shares his confidence in Colorado’s potential to excel in the upcoming season. Despite last year’s hurdles and setbacks, he points out that the team was a mere seven points away from significantly more victories. Highlighting the close margins in many of their losses, Sanders insists that learning to clinch those tight games could transform the Buffaloes into a formidable bowl team, or even contenders on a larger stage.
However, the path to the College Football Playoff is fraught with challenges, especially with the introduction of a 12-team field. The dynamics of college football are shifting, with the Power Five conferences becoming the Power Four, and the playoff landscape adjusting accordingly. To secure a playoff spot, the Buffaloes not only need to navigate their way through the Big 12 but also outshine a host of contenders from other powerful conferences.
Analyzing past playoff configurations and the potential for inclusion, it’s evident that the SEC and Big Ten are expected to dominate the playoff field. For Colorado, capturing the Big 12 championship could be the golden ticket to the playoffs, possibly earning them a top-four seed. However, anything short of a championship win may leave them on the outside looking in, particularly considering the competitive nature of the new playoff format.
Speculation aside, the consensus among analysts is that Colorado faces an uphill battle in its Big 12 debut. Achieving a significant improvement in their win-loss record is crucial but climbing to the pinnacle of the conference standings in their first year may be a mountain too steep. Expectations range from an optimistic 9-3 to a more conservative 8-4 finish for the Buffaloes.
Ultimately, the upcoming season in the Big 12 will likely be a testament to the strength and strategy of coaching staff across the conference. With the talent gap narrower than ever due to Oklahoma and Texas’ departure, coaching could very well be the decisive factor that separates the contenders from the rest of the pack. As teams vie to establish dominance in this new era of Big 12 football, all eyes will be on Sanders and his Buffaloes to see if they can turn belief into breakthroughs on the gridiron.