The new head coach of a Power 5 college football program has received one of sport’s most coveted awards.
Colorado Buffaloes head coach and NFL legend Deion Sanders has been named Sports Illustrated’s 2023 Sportsperson of the Year. The Pro Football Hall of Famer and former leader of Jackson State University’s football program has earned the award after turning around one of America’s worst college football teams. The Buffaloes, who went 1-11 in 2022, improved their stature in 2023 with a 4-8 finish after Sanders took over the program late last year. The 2023 campaign for Colorado got off to a hot start with bettors taking note.
Hot start sparked heavy betting interest
The Buffaloes would start 2023 with a 3-0 record with marquee wins over Texas Christian University, Nebraska, and in-state rival Colorado State. As a result of the strong start, bettors flocked to online and retail sportsbooks to place wagers that backed the success of Colorado.
The program’s upset win over TCU in Week 1 immediately sparked the interest of bettors with three times the number of bets placed on the team’s Week 2 matchup against Nebraska than any other college football game that week at BetMGM. Colorado would earn a 36-14 win over the Huskers before a thrilling victory against CSU.
After Colorado’s 3-0 start, 11.5% of bets on BetMGM were on the Buffaloes to win the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship — the second most bets amongst teams.
As a result of the heavy action and Colorado’s 3-0 start, betting lines at BetMGM shifted from +30000 to +8000 for the Buffaloes to win it all.
Colorado duo biggest liability to sportsbooks in Heisman race
Colorado’s early on-field success also correlated to changes in betting odds for player prop and future markets. Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders — one of Deion’s two sons on the Colorado roster — and two-way player Travis Hunter saw their odds and interest to win the Heisman Trophy dramatically shift.
Shedeur, who opened as a +12500 underdog on BetMGM to win college sport’s most prestigious award, was at +1800 odds to win the Heisman after the 3-0 start. The 21-year-old signal caller had the highest handle percentage to win the award at 20.3%. Shedeur sat ahead of University of Southern California quarterback and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams (13.5%) and his teammate Hunter (13.2%) for handle.
Shedeur currently has 12.6% of bets to win the Heisman despite his odds being removed from several major sportsbooks.
The quarterback’s removal from Heisman betting markets comes after an underwhelming second half of the season, which saw Colorado lose six straight games — including a 46-43 overtime loss to Stanford. Going into the matchup with Stanford, Colorado still held the biggest liability to win the national championship on BetMGM ahead of USC and Alabama. The Buffaloes were also in the top three for the highest ticket percentage and handle.
The Buffaloes and their leader Sanders are no longer in contention for a championship with their season concluded. However, the emergence of the Colorado program and the initial success of Sanders is poised to engage the interest of sports bettors across America as a new football season approaches.