Colorado bounces back with romp of Wyoming

BOULDER, Colo. -- The Colorado Buffaloes quieted the cacophony of criticism stemming from their bad start with a 24-0 win over Wyoming on Saturday.

Quarterback Cody Hawkins returned from a concussion and directed four scoring drives, and Rodney Stewart returned from a hamstring injury to carry 32 times for 127 yards and a two touchdowns.

The Buffaloes (1-2) simplified their defensive game plan after allowing 77 points and 1,000 yards in opening their season with losses to Colorado State and Toledo, and it worked wonders.

Wyoming (1-2) went three-and-out six times in the first half, when they managed just three first downs and 61 yards of offense.

The Buffs led 17-0 at the half on the way to their second shutout in the Dan Hawkins era. The first was a 42-0 whitewash of Miami-Ohio two years ago.

It was a welcomed respite for the Buffaloes, who spent the week defending their coach and hearing about their poor play from fans and media -- and even a geology professor who called out linebacker Marcus Burton in class last week, according to the senior captain.

After scoring just a field goal in the first half of each of their first two games, the Buffaloes scored a touchdown on their opening drive Saturday, but it took a heads-up play by wide receiver Scotty McKnight, who scooped up tailback Demetrius Sumler's fumble at the 2 and barreled into the end zone.

Center Mike Iltis snapped the ball over Hawkins' head on the Buffs' next possession and Cowboys linebacker Brian Hendricks recovered at the Colorado 18. But Austin McCoy was wide right on a 35-yard field goal try after three snaps yielded no yards.

A failed fake punt gave the Buffs the ball at midfield and Colorado made it 10-0 on a 20-yard field goal by Aric Goodman, who began his collegiate career at Wyoming before transferring to Boulder in 2007.

Stewart's 2-yard TD run made it 17-0 after cornerback Jalil Brown recovered Darius Terry's fumble at the Cowboys 27 in the second quarter.

The Buffs stalled on their next five possessions before making it 24-0 on Stewart's 11-yard touchdown run. His two TDs matched his total from last season.

The Cowboys reached the Buffs' 6 but went backward from there and McCoy was wide left on a 37-yard field goal attempt, keeping the shutout intact.

After completing just one of four passes for 2 yards, Cowboys quarterback Robert Benjamin was replaced by Austyn Carta-Samuels, who finished 11-of-24 for 125 yards.

Hawkins was 17-of-31 for 175 yards in the first meeting between the former conference foes since 1997.