Wallace put the capper on a performance not many will soon forget. He completed 31-of-47 passes for 425 yards and one touchdown and added 68 more on the ground for a school-record 493 total yards. When the game was in the balance, he was just as spectacular. His 33-yard carry put ISU in scoring range and later led to Mike Wagner's clinching touchdown run.
"We knew that we could move the ball if it came down to it and it was the last drive," said Wallace. "We knew we had to get some points out of it and that's what we tried to do. We all came together and played well."
The Cyclone head coach that will lead his team into a third-consecutive bowl game, a first in school history, could not find enough superlatives to describe Wallace's performance.
"Seneca was almost unbelievable, with seven yards short of 500 yards offense," said McCarney, whose ISU squad now closes out the Big 12 slate at Kansas State and Colorado. "I was disappointed he came up seven yards short of 500 yards offense. The guy is unbelievable. He's just an amazing football player and I'm really proud of him. His accuracy today was real phenomenal. Whether it was in the pocket, broken play, naked boot or getting outside, he was on the money."
"I said going into the season that it's the best group of receivers we've had since I've been here and you saw it again today," McCarney said. "With the exception of the Oklahoma game, I think our receivers have played outstanding football all year. Our receivers did a great job for us today."
Pulling out a close game at home was just the anecdote for the Cyclones, who were reeling after back-to-back losses to top-10 teams. Like their recent performances, this one was not pretty from a defensive standpoint, but it was enough to fend off a pesky Missouri squad.
ISU's defense needed a goal-line stand to ice a victory in Columbia last season and forced the Tigers six-and-out in the waning moments Saturday to set up the decisive 93-yard drive.
"We didn't execute how we wanted to, but the main goal was to get a win today and that's what we got," said linebacker Chris Whitaker. "We didn't play well overall, but we made plays when we needed to. Sometimes it's not how you draw it up or practice it, but a win is a win. That's what we really needed at this point in time and get back to that winning feeling."
Running the football on offense to complement Wallace's passing also served as a recipe for success. Wagner overcame a slow start to rush for 79 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries and the Cyclones got 30 more from backup Brian Thompson.
Much of ISU's ground production came in the final 30 minutes against a Mizzou defense that sold out to stop Wallace, who shredded the secondary for 281 first-half passing yards.
"Maybe it was something wrong with them," said Wagner. "Maybe they started over-pursuing. I guess they were probably worried about Seneca a little bit. Maybe they were over-pursuing one way and then I caught them off the back edge and was there for some yards."
The red zone woes that had plagued the Cyclones on the road in recent weeks came to a screeching halt in Ames. A holding penalty on its initial drive cost ISU a touchdown at the two-yard line. But Wallace and company rebounded well by scoring four touchdowns from inside the 10-yard line, including the decisive score.
"In the previous weeks we haven't been able to get it done in the red zone," Wagner said. "We were moving the ball and knew we were going to get our chance down there. We just decided there was no way we were going to be denied. Everyone looked at each other in the eyes and knew we needed this touchdown."
The final score was just as much mental as it was physical.
"It was ‘how do you want to be remembered, good or great?' To come all the way to the goal-line with 30 seconds left, a great team has got to make that play," Wagner said. "That's what we decided to do."
Now just a half-game behind Colorado in the Big 12 North, ISU goes on the road controlling its own destiny. Next weekend's game at Kansas State is set for a 6 p.m. kickoff on TBS. Victories over the Wildcats and Colorado on Nov. 16 would clinch the division title.
"I'm glad to be bowl eligible for the third year in a row and first time in school history," McCarney said. "We're still very much in the race for the Big 12 North and we're going to do all that we can to pick up where we left off today and continue to have more success."