BOULDER, Colo. -- Zac Robinson broke the Buffaloes' hearts again.
Oklahoma State's junior quarterback led the 13th-ranked Cowboys past Colorado 30-17 Saturday night, four years after spurning a scholarship offer from the Buffs.
"It was great to play in front of a lot of family and friends. And to play in this stadium that I grew up watching so many games in," Robinson said. "It was fun. It was kind of an ugly win, but as long as we got it done, that's all that matters."
Playing in his home state for the first time since high school, Robinson threw for 217 yards and a touchdown and ran for another as the Cowboys (9-2, 5-2 Big 12) tuned up for their showdown with archrival Oklahoma in two weeks.
Coming off a 56-20 whipping at the hands of No. 2 Texas Tech last week, the Cowboys got off to another slow start, settling for chip-shot field goals on their first two drives, an early warning sign that this wouldn't be another offensive onslaught.
After settling for kicks of 18 and 25 yards by Dan Bailey in the first quarter, the Cowboys built a 20-3 lead on Dez Bryant's 29-yard touchdown catch before halftime and Kendall Hunter's 43-yard TD run in the third quarter.
Hunter ran for 102 yards on 11 carries before leaving with a bruised thigh, and Robinson ran 15 times for 61 yards. He also completed 15 of 23 passes in another efficient performance.
"It was nice for Zac to come home and play well," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. "There was some talk about how he would handle it, but he did a great job."
Buffs coach Dan Hawkins called Robinson the difference-maker.
"When they would get in a pickle, he'd make a great play," Hawkins said. "He's probably overshadowed a little bit by some of the [other quarterbacks] in the league. But he's a pretty good player."
The Buffs (5-6, 2-5), who have to win at Nebraska in two weeks to have a chance at a bowl bid, hung in there despite not being able to keep up with yet another of the Big 12's high-octane offenses.
They caught a big break to keep things interesting early in the fourth quarter.
On fourth-and-9 from the Cowboys 28, Cody Hawkins' pass hit wide receiver Cody Crawford's left shoulder pad at the 15-yard line and bounced high toward the end zone, where alert wide receiver Scotty McKnight cradled it as he fell across the goal line to pull the Buffs to 20-10.
"I didn't see it. I threw it to Cody, I got hit right afterward," Cody Hawkins said. "And so I hear everybody screaming and I saw everybody jumping on Scottie, and I was like, 'What? What happened?' Everybody's slapping me, slapping Scottie. I had no idea what happened until I saw it on the Jumbotron."
Not to be outdone, Robinson drove the Cowboys 80 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 12-yard scamper to make it 27-10.
"It was just fitting that it was in the end zone with the OSU section," Robinson said.
Robinson attended Chatfield High School in Littleton, but he declined former Colorado coach Gary Barnett's scholarship offer the summer before his senior year because the Buffs' program was in turmoil then, dealing with the scandal stemming from allegations of sexual assaults by players and recruits.
So, off to Stillwater he went. And on Saturday night, he returned to break the Buffs' hearts once again. The Buffaloes weren't at full strength in their secondary, playing without starting strong safety D.J. Dykes (ill) and losing senior free safety and team captain Ryan Walters (knee, ankle) on the first defensive snap.
Aric Goodman clanked a 50-yard attempt off the left upright for his eighth straight miss, and the Cowboys responded with their first touchdown drive when Robinson hit Bryant over the middle for an athletic 29-yard catch-and-run in the end zone that put Oklahoma State ahead 13-0.
Goodman converted his first field goal since Sept. 18 against West Virginia when he sent a 31-yard attempt through the uprights to pull the Buffaloes to 13-3 at halftime.