TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Colorado’s offense sputtered for large chunks of the game and the defense gave up a tying 96-yard scoring drive. Even special teams weren’t so special outside of one big punt return.
With the game on the line, Shedeur Sanders came through — as he usually does — to end the Buffaloes’ eight-game Pac-12 losing streak.
Sanders accounted for two touchdowns and hit Javon Antonio on on 43-yard pass to set up Alejandro Mata’s 43-yard field goal with 12 seconds left, lifting Colorado to a 27-24 win over Arizona State on Saturday.
“It’s like we’re waiting on him to put on his cape and do what he does,” said Colorado coach Deion Sanders, Shedeur’s father. “That’s what he does every week.”
The Sun Devils sacked Sanders five times and gave him little time to find receivers downfield. Sanders, the nation’s second-leading passer at 356 yards per game, was held to 239 yards on 26-of-42 passing.
The coach’s son was still effective when he needed to be, running for a touchdown in the first half and hitting Antonio on a 9-yard score in the fourth quarter. After Arizona State tied it with 50 seconds left, Sanders found Antonio again, this time on a 43-yard connection that set up Mata’s winning kick to give Colorado (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) its first Pac-12 win in a year.
“Pops doesn’t talk to me that much during the game. He lets me be me,” Shedeur Sanders said. “I’ve been living with him my whole life so he couldn’t tell me anything I haven’t heard before. I just looked down the sideline, just seeing everybody body language — the coaches and everybody — they knew what time it was.”
Arizona State (1-5, 0-3 Pac-12) labored offensively much of the afternoon without three starting offensive linemen and two key backups due to injuries.
The Sun Devils found the right gear at the right time, moving 94 yards in 13 plays to set up Trenton Bourguet’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Troy Omeire to tie the game at 24.
Bourguet threw for 335 yards and a touchdown on 32-of-49 passing, but was under near constant pressure. Arizona State lost its seventh straight Pac-12 game and is off to its worst start since 1942.
“Winning teams make the plays when the game is on the line and right now we’re not getting that done,” Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham said.
The Sun Devils picked their way down the field on their opening drive with underneath crossing routes to reach Colorado’s 2. Arizona State went with an odd formation near the goal line, spreading all its linemen out except center Leif Fautanu and Bourguet followed him in for a 2-yard TD run.
Arizona State’s offense went quiet until late in the first half, putting together a drive to set up Cam Skattebo’s 1-yard run with 6 1/2 minutes left.
Colorado had a similar half.
Xavier Weaver scored on a fourth-and-1 run to tie it 7-all, but the Buffaloes had a hard time keeping Arizona State’s rush off Sanders until late in the half. Colorado pieced together a scoring drive and Sanders scrambled in for a 16-yard score shortly after Skattebo’s touchdown.
Arizona State quickly moved into position for Dario Longhetto’s 33-yard field goal to lead 17-14 at halftime. The Sun Devils struggled most of the second half before scoring late and the defense gave up the winning drive, leading to their fifth straight loss this season.
“During those big moments, it’s the little things that matter,” Arizona State defensive end B.J. Green said. “You have to make sure you harp on those things from the jump.”
Deion Sanders is typically positive after games, even losses. He was far more subdued after the Buffaloes struggled at times in all three phases.
“Wonderful win, but we played like hot garbage and I’m trying to figure it out,” Sanders said. “I’m sick of this. We’re better than this.”
Colorado: The Buffaloes’ defense was solid all game and Sanders was good when he needed to be, leading Colorado its first Pac-12 win since beating Cal in overtime a year ago.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils’ defense kept Sanders in check for most of the game, but gave up the big play that set up the winning kick. Arizona State’s offense was good at times, but not good enough to outlast the Buffaloes.
Colorado: Hosts Stanford on Friday.
Arizona State: Has a bye week before playing at No. 7 Washington on Oct. 21.