Colorado Buffaloes season recap

Colorado wasn't the worst team in the Big 12 this season, but in the final weeks of Dan Hawkins' tenure, the Buffaloes played like it. They also lost starting quarterback Tyler Hansen for the year in the middle of the season after he injured his spleen and had to spend a few days in the hospital.

Colorado was blasted by Oklahoma and blew a 28-point lead to their main competition at the bottom, Kansas, in just 11 minutes.

That loss meant Hawkins would be shown the door (and handed $2.1 million to walk through it). That gave way to one of the best stories in the Big 12 this year: the Buffaloes' resurgence under interim coach Brian Cabral.

Colorado rocked an Iowa State team desperate for a win to achieve bowl eligibility, and Rodney Stewart ran for 195 yards in a win over Kansas State. The Buffaloes ran into a Nebraska team in Lincoln with a lot to play for in the season finale, and couldn't win to qualify for a bowl, but Cabral had the team playing good football at the end of the season.

It sounds like Cabral will be retained under the new staff, and he won't be forgotten any time soon for his efforts to close the season.

Offensive MVP: Rodney Stewart, RB. No competition here. Stewart ran for 1,316 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year, and finished third in the Big 12 in rushing. He also had six 100-yard games and three more with at least 85 yards rushing. Next time, when the Buffaloes are up 28 points in the fourth quarter, they should give him the ball.

Defensive MVP: Michael Sipili, LB. Sipili led an average at best defense in tackles with 74 tackles for a solid junior season, and also made eight tackles for loss with 2.5 sacks.

Turning point: The loss to Kansas and subsequent coach firing. The Buffaloes were never the same team afterward, and that's a good thing. Instead of Kansas going winless in conference play, the Buffaloes looked likely to do it after the Kansas loss. They didn't come close, and even got to play for a chance at a bowl game after Cabral helped rally the team.

What's next: A move to the Pac-12 with brand-new coach Jon Embree. Embree is a former Buff who wanted the job badly. He is a first-time head coach, so it's hard to say what to expect. Stewart should be back, and so should Hansen. Receivers Paul Richardson and Toney Clemons should give the Buffaloes a solid group of targets next year, and offensive lineman Ryan Miller will return as well.