Victories aren't piling up the way head coach Deion Sanders envisioned they would this season for the Colorado Buffaloes.
He has no doubt the wins are coming, though.
"I would love to win," Sanders said Saturday night after a 28-16 loss to UCLA at the Rose Bowl. "I'm accustomed to winning, and we will win. We will win. Just put your seatbelt on and hold on. We will win and you've got to see what could possibly happen with the team that we have."
The Buffaloes (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) became the story of the sports world with an impressive 3-0 start to the season.
Following a 1-11 season in 2022, Sanders, a Pro Football Hall of Famer with world class confidence, was hired to restore some glory to the CU program. He did that with an upset at then-No. 17 TCU, a blowout of rival Nebraska, and a thrilling double-overtime win against rival Colorado State in September.
The Pac-12 schedule, however, has been humbling, to say the least. Oregon smacked the Buffs, 42-6. That was followed by a close loss to USC (after rallying from a 34-7 deficit), a narrow win against Arizona State, an embarrassing double-overtime loss to last-place Stanford (after leading 29-0) and Saturday's loss to the Bruins.
"I mean, shoot, we really only got our butts kicked once and that was in Oregon," Sanders said. "We got our butts kicked. There wasn't no winning that. All the other games, you could see how we could have won those games. We could have done that. So that's called hope in our world. And I'm thankful and happy for that."
CU certainly could have and should have beat Stanford, building a four-touchdown lead before collapsing. And, the Buffs' defense played well enough to beat the Bruins on Saturday.
The Buffs haven't learned how to win consistently, though. That's a common trait for building programs and CU is clearly better than it was a year ago. But, the Buffs haven't come close to matching their hype in the last five games.
"Every game teaches a tremendous lesson," Sanders said. "Every day of life teaches a tremendous lesson. So I think they're learning at a fast pace because unlike many other first year coach-led teams, there's a tremendous expectation for us and we would love to meet those expectations.
"We were close. We were close. I mean, we did some wonderful things. You could see what we have and what we're building and you can see the need. So just like recruits, you don't think they're watching TV and they see the needs that we have? It's very easy to understand this is what we need and this is the type of quarterback that we have."
Shedeur Sanders has been exceptional most of the year and ranks among the top quarterbacks in the country. The Buffs haven't had the pieces or consistency around him, however, to make much of an impact in the Pac-12 yet.
Coming into the season, CU was projected by many pundits to win only three games, and few had them reaching the six-win mark for bowl eligibility.
At 4-4, the Buffs have already exceeded some expectations, but it's going to be a tough task to get to bowl eligibility. Sanders' visions, however, for the program go well beyond whatever bowl the Buffs could reach this season.
"I don't give a darn about no bowl," he said. "We're trying to win, period. We're not saying, 'Oh, we gotta go to a bowl.' We're trying to win. We're gonna win, period. I think we proved that the first half (against UCLA). The second half I know we came back and gave up some explosives as soon as the second half commenced but the young men played a heck of a game. They really did. They played their butts off.
"A lot of the mistakes we made we know we can do better than that. They forced them but we made tremendous mistakes defensively ... that enabled them to do what they did."
Despite the mistakes and the struggles in Pac-12 play, Sanders maintains his optimism as the Buffs head into the final month of the season.
"We had our best week of practice, man," he said of the week leading up to the UCLA game. "We had the best Friday workout we've ever had and we came out ready and prepared. It was not because of a lack of preparation or a lack of want and need. We just made some key mistakes at key times.
"We're seven to 10 players away of really doing what we want to do in college football."
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