BOULDER, Colo. -- Interim coach Brian Cabral won his debut for Colorado on Saturday when Cody Hawkins threw three touchdown passes and Rodney Stewart ran for 123 yards in the Buffaloes' 34-14 victory over Iowa State.
Cabral took over the troubled program Tuesday when Dan Hawkins was fired following an epic collapse at Kansas last week in which the Buffaloes blew a 28-point lead in the final 11 minutes.
Cabral has been on the Colorado coaching staff since 1989 after his linebacking career at Boulder and in the NFL came to an end, but this was his first game as a head coach at any level.
It was quite the success as the Buffaloes (4-6, 1-5 Big 12) kept alive their hopes for a bowl berth while denying the Cyclones (5-6, 3-4) bowl eligibility.
Although names such as former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti and current Georgia coach Mark Richt have already been bandied about as possible candidates to replace Dan Hawkins, who went 19-39 in five seasons, Cabral wants to be considered for the full-time job, and performances like this can only help his chances of convincing athletic director Mike Bohn.
Richt laughed off a report that he could be a candidate for the coaching job at Colorado.
After a 49-31 loss to No. 2 Auburn, Richt was asked if he would be interested in meeting with the Big 12 school. According to the Denver Post, an unidentified source close to the search said the Buffaloes want to talk to the Georgia coach.
Richt's response: "Georgia's my home."
The Bulldogs (5-6, 3-5) have endured their second straight disappointing season, needing a win in their final game against Georgia Tech just to be bowl eligible. But Richt makes just under $3 million at Georgia, while Colorado has said it can't afford to pay more than $2 million for Hawkins' replacement.
With Dan Hawkins a spectator in sunglasses from the Dal Ward Center in the north end zone, his quarterback son threw for 266 yards and tossed TD passes of 9 yards to Ryan Deehan, 26 yards to Toney Clemons and 25 yards to Scotty McKnight.
The last one was the school-record 13th TD connection between Hawkins and McKnight, whose 20th touchdown reception tied a school mark.
Stewart became the first Buffaloes running back to top 1,000 yards since 2004 but he fumbled twice, losing one in the first half that snuffed a promising drive.
The Buffaloes knocked Cyclones quarterback Austen Arnaud out of the game in the fourth quarter when Patrick Mahnke sacked him and forced a fumble that linebacker Michael Sipilo scooped up and returned 45 yards to make it 34-7.
Cabral had his first big decision on the game's opening drive when the Buffaloes faced fourth-and-3 from the Cyclones 7. He initially kept his offense on the field but after conferring with his coaches during a timeout, he sent Aric Goodman in for a 24-yard field goal instead.
That score was set up by Paul Richardson's 55-yard reception in which he caught the pass in the flat and outraced half a dozen defenders downfield.
His second big decision came in the third quarter when he went for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 40 and Hawkins reached the first-down marker by the nose of the football to keep alive the drive that would end in his scoring strike to McKnight that made it 27-7.
After Alexander Robinson rumbled in from 8 yards out to give Iowa State a 7-3 lead, Arthur Jaffee faked a pitch to Clemons on the ensuing kickoff and reeled off an 89-yard return before being dragged down at the Cyclones 9. Hawkins hit tight end Deehan from there for a 10-7 Colorado lead.
Then, Colorado drove 80 yards in 11 plays with the payoff coming when Hawkins rolled right to avoid the pass rush and lofted a pass into the back of the end zone, where Clemons hauled it as he was tumbling, giving the Buffaloes a 17-7 halftime lead.
This was the last matchup scheduled between the schools as the Buffaloes are heading west to the Pac-12 next season. Iowa State's last win in Boulder came in 2000.
The Cyclones, who were held to minus-6 yards on 26 rushing attempts, will have to beat Missouri at home next week to become bowl-eligible.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.