Hansen struggled to move the Buffaloes in the first half, completing just 4-of-12 passes for 48 yards and one interception as Colorado tumbled into a 10-0 hole.
Enter Hawkins, who energized the offense, leading the Buffaloes to two quick scores to start the second half.
His favorite target was Scotty McKnight, who caught two touchdown passes.
“We came out playing flat, not like we know how to play,” McKnight said. “We came out with zero points in the first half. That’s ridiculous, that should never happen...I’ll come out and say it — it was embarrassing.”
Hawkins provided a calming presence in the huddle.
“It’s nice to have a familiar face back there. We’ve been through this before,” McKnight said. “Seeing him back in the huddle you kind of get the feel everything is under control.”
Now if only Colorado felt as comfortable about its kicking game.
Jameson Davis missed two field goals in the first quarter, before leaving with a strained knee. Aric Goodman also had an extra point blocked.
The Buffaloes have misconnected on nine of their last 10 field goal attempts, dating back to Goodman’s game-winning field goal in overtime against West Virginia.
Goodman missed seven in a row before being replaced by Davis last weekend. Davis pushed a 38-yard attempt to the left on Colorado’s opening drive Saturday, then sent a 29-yard attempt wide right.
“There’s no question that it’s squirrelly at best,” Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said of his shaky kicking game.
Colorado trailed 24-13 after Robinson’s 1-yard touchdown run with 9:14 remaining, but Cody Hawkins threw a 14-yard strike to Patrick Williams. The Buffaloes converted the 2-point try to make it a 24-21 contest with just over 7 minutes remaining.
Later, Hawkins hit a wide open Cody Crawford in the back of the end zone for the winning score with 1:30 left.