When Colorado wide receiver Scotty McKnight lines up for the first snap of Big 12 games this season, the opposing cornerback usually knows him as well as the patrons at Cheers do Norm.

"I`m on a first-name basis with all those guys out there," McKnight said. "They`re like, 'Come on Scotty, you`re still here?` Yeah bro, I`ve got a couple more games left."

For the last three seasons, McKnight has been the only consistent component of CU`s offense. The offensive line has finally emerged as a strength after going through years of growing pains, the running game comes and goes, and the starting quarterback situation changes with the color of the leaves every fall.

McKnight -- who leads the Buffs with 31 receptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns this season -- won`t have any problems adjusting to the loss of Tyler Hansen. No matter what happens during this stretch run, No. 21 will be on the same page as longtime teammate and friend Cody Hawkins.

"I`d never describe that as bittersweet," McKnight said of getting to play with Hawkins again. "Obviously, I`ve had a bond with both of those guys and I`ve caught balls from both players. I have so much respect forboth of those guys and really the way they`ve handled a tough situation when it could have been easy for either of them to be upset and moan about it. Neither of those guys have ever done that, and really I look up to them for that because they`ve handled it with such maturity.

"It`s great to play with Cody. We came in together, we were roommates, and me and him go back. Also very saddening to see this happen to Tyler because he is a close friend as well."

Hansen suffered a ruptured spleen during last Saturday`s loss to Texas Tech. Initially, the injury was diagnosed as bruised ribs.

"First I thought he broke a rib. I did that last year, so I was messing with him," McKnight said. "I know that hurts, so I was just trying to make him laugh, typical stuff we do."

Signs emerged later in the evening that something much more serious was wrong with the Buffs` starting quarterback, and Hansen was admitted to the hospital. Hansen was released Thursday.

"Oh man, that was tough. Tyler is my guy," said McKnight, who visited Hansen on Monday, the team`s off day. "My heart definitely goes out to that guy. The whole team, the coaching staff, everyone supports him and anything he needs, he can ask for."

How about a win over Oklahoma?

Unlikely, but the Buffs -- thanks to the leadership of seniors like McKnight -- seem to be doing a good job of ignoring the speculation outside the CU practice bubble about the head coach`s job. McKnight said he is focused on getting bowl eligible.

"I think I speak for all the seniors that no matter what happens we just want to keep playing as long as we can. We love this team," McKnight said. "I love the school here and everything about it. If we can have our fan base go to a bowl game and have one more game with all these guys, I would love nothing more."

The last time CU went to a bowl game, after the 2007 season, Hawkins was the quarterback and McKnight was beginning his four-year run as the team`s No. 1 receiver. The two sought each other out to celebrate at Folsom Field moments after the upset victory over Oklahoma.

Hawkins said the team watched highlights of that Sooners game on Monday "to fire the guys up a little bit." Without the athletic Hansen breaking the huddle, opposing defenses will likely stack the box and force the brave but limited senior signal caller to beat them with his right arm.

"It`s definitely exciting as your career winds down to know that you`ll be able to go out there and put it on the line and give it everything you`ve got for the last five weeks of the season," Hawkins said. "It`s definitely awful because Tyler is a great kid and nobody deserves to have that happen."

McKnight has had a somewhat quiet season so far. The offense has leaned on running back Rodney Stewart at times, and other receiving targets such as Tony Clemons, Travon Patterson, Ryan Deehan and Paul Richardson have emerged. 

"You`re not necessarily dialing it up because you`ve got one guy," CU head coach Dan Hawkins said when asked if defenses were focusing more on McKnight, a preseason Biletnikoff Award candidate, this season. "Some teams pay more attention to him, particularly on certain downs. But when you have other guys to cover you can spread it around more. We kind of knew that going in."

Cody Hawkins completed 22 of 43 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns against the Red Raiders after replacing Hansen in the second quarter. The senior is CU`s all-time leader in passing touchdowns (48), second in completions (581, needs 86 to pass Joel Klatt), second in passing attempts (1,051, needs 35 to pass Klatt) and third in passing yards (6,269, needs 213 to pass Kordell Stewart and 1,109 to pass Klatt).

"I think Cody is a little bit more based on timing when Tyler has just got a strong arm, he`s got a big arm," McKnight said on the adjustments the receivers will have to make with the change at quarterback. "There`s a little bit of a difference there, but I`ve played with both of those guys so it`s probably a little easier for me because I know what to expect. I`ve been in game situations with both guys."

McKnight is CU`s all-time leader in receptions (196) and is fourth in receiving yards (2,238) and touchdowns (18). He has caught at least one pass in all 44 games of his collegiate career.

The only statistic that really matters, of course, is the Buffs have won only 17 games since Hawkins and McKnight started taking the field together as freshmen.

"I just soak it in. This is my last go. I have five games left and I`m just going to enjoy it because I love this sport," McKnight said. "You never know, this could be my last game. Something could happen. I`ve tried to play all season like every snap is my last and just enjoy it as it comes."