McCarney's team snapped another streak on the way, ending a 10-year losing skid to K-State.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Bret Meyer hit Todd Miller for the tying score with just 3:24 remaining, a play that was set up by his 51-yard strike to Todd Blythe over the middle. After trailing 23-9 earlier in the second half, Meyer cut the deficit to seven points with one-yard quarterback sneak.
Thanks to a shanked Bret Culbertson kickoff out of bounds, K-State appeared to regain some sort of momentum after the Cyclones had tied the game. However, its good field position was erased by Allen Webb's fumble and Tim Dobbins' recovery for ISU. Tailback Stevie Hicks took over from there, rushing for 15 yards and then breaking up the middle for 20 and a touchdown to give the Cyclones an improbable 30-23 lead.
On the first snap of K-State's ensuing drive, Webb threw a pass that deflected off of cornerback DeAndre Jackson and into the hands of LaMarcus Hicks, who returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.
It was a remarkable turnaround for an ISU team that had been thoroughly dominated by the Wildcats. K-State had outscored McCarney's teams by a combined score of 201-20 in the four previous meetings. Now, the defending Big 12 champions are being left at home for the Holidays, and finished the season with a 4-7 overall record and 2-6 in conference play.
Stevie Hicks led a ground-controlled Cyclone offense by rushing for 158 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries. Meyer completed 16-of-30 passes for 234 yards and one touchdown. But no pass was bigger than his long strike to Blythe in the fourth quarter that put ISU in scoring position.
Thanks to a nice balance of run-to-pass, the Cyclones gained a 395-315 advantage in total offense. Their opponent, meanwhile, rushed for 257 yards on 46 carries, but only mustered 58 yards passing among quarterbacks Webb and Dylan Meier.
ISU takes a four-game winning streak into its biggest game in several years at Jack Trice Stadium, a Saturday showdown with Big 12 North foe Missouri. The Cyclones need a win over the Tigers for a first-place divisional finish and berth in the conference championship game Dec. 4 against Oklahoma.