"This is very rough, especially for us guys that don't have another shot at it," senior running back Alexander Robinson said. "We knew what was at stake and gave it everything we had but couldn't get it done."
Coach Paul Rhoads said his team showed a great amount of determination but just could not finish the job.
"We came to play but we have to execute," Rhoads said. "As we build this program, though, those are the things that we will have to correct and will correct."
The Cyclones were playing without senior starting quarterback Austen Arnaud, but backup Jerome Tiller performed admirably in his absence, throwing for 155 yards. Arnaud, who sustained a knee injury that needs surgery to repair it, put the surgery off so he go through Senior Night in front of the Cyclone faithful and root his teammates on.
"Jerome was playing with a lot on his shoulders and he responded admirably," Rhoads said. "He was playing in a game we had to win to go bowling and was playing for a senior quarterback, who had his career ended due to injury.
Robinson had 98 yards rushing to move into third all-time in school history in his final game and Jake Williams caught six passes for 102 yards.
"There is a senior class that has been through a lot of adversity and a lot of transition," Rhoads said. "In my 22 years, I'm not sure I have seen that kind of emotion after a game. That is great and that is because they believe in what we're doing and how much they are committed to this program."
The first three series of the game Saturday were somewhat a microcosm of how the game went overall. Iowa State was able to move into Missouri territory but its drive stalled out. The defense was able to get a quick three-and-out before the Cyclones moved down to the Tiger 20. That drive stalled as well and Grant Mahoney missed a 38-yard field goal.
"We moved the football and put ourselves in a position to score," Rhoads said. "When you don't score, it is deflating and those missed kicks hurt."
On the ensuing series, Missouri got all the points that it would need, going 80 yards in eight plays. Blaine Gabbert hit Michael Egnew for two great leaping catches on the drive, one that came on 3rd down and long and another that came from 11 yards out and made it 7-0.
The offenses did not quite get on track after that and the score stayed the same going into the halftime break.
"The defense played sensational," Rhoads said. "We played a front that we hadn't played all year because of what we saw other teams have success with against them and executed it."
Missouri pierced Iowa State territory on the first series after halftime but the Cyclone defense held and forced a punt, which was downed inside the five. The Cyclones went on a 14-play, 86-yard march that was sustained by a 39-yard catch from Williams and some big runs by Robinson. Iowa State was not able to get in the end zone, though, and Mahoney missed another field goal, this time from 27 yards out.
"We performed to our potential but we just couldn't maximize on points," Tiller said.
The Tigers sustained a drive with a fake punt on fourth-and-short deep in their own territory on the next series and that was punctuated with a one-yard touchdown plunge by De'Vion Moore. The Cyclones found a way to get into Missouri territory one more time but a turnover derailed that series and Missouri ran out the clock after that.
"You play college football to win bowl games and not having that oppourtunity with team is disappointing," Rhoads said. "We had to get to six (wins) and beyond and we didn't get that done."