Rhoads said his players are just working towards the expectations of the program.
"College football is all about bowl games and the pageantry that goes with them," Rhoads said. "We're thrilled to be bowl-eligible but we also have one more football game to play and a lot of work to do."
Iowa State got its all-important sixth win with hard-fought effort over the Buffaloes (3-7, 2-4), using a bend but do not break defense and a solid running game led by Alexander Robinson, who went over 1000 yards on the day.
"That's great, A-Rob has been talking about it forever," Arnaud said. "I'm just so proud of the kid; he has an incredible work ethic."
That defense allowed Colorado to have an 80-yard advantage in total offense, but stiffened in the red zone and held the Buffaloes to only three points on their four trips.
"Our red zone defense was huge in this game," Rhoads said. "There was a lot of communication out there on the field and a lot of guys where they were supposed to be."
That was no more prevalent than when Colorado, trailing 17-3, drove 73 yards to the Iowa State 7. After a seven-yard gain, Cyclone safety David Sims knocked the ball loose from Rodney Stewart and fellow safety James Smith recovered at the eight.
Colorado was able to close within a touchdown on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Hansen to Markques Simas but the Cyclones were able to run the clock down far enough to give Colorado virtually no chance to tie.
"That was a tremendous way to go out," said senior linebacker Jesse Smith, who along with 11 other seniors played their last game at Jack Trice Stadium in front of a crowd of over 43,000. "I'm going to remember this day for a long time."
Iowa State forced turnovers on each of Colorado's first two possessions of the second half. Nate Frere intercepted Hansen on the first possession and Sims forced a fumble that was recovered by Stephen Ruempolhamer at the Buffalo 31. That second turnover resulted in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Arnaud to Robinson to make it 17-3.
"Those turnovers saved us on some field position," Rhoads said. "Our plus-one advantage went a long way towards into determining who won the football game."
The other key red zone stop came in the third quarter after Colorado moved the ball down to the nine-yard line but offensive lineman Bryce Givens committed two personal foul penalties to move the ball back 30 yards to the Cyclone 39. Aric Goodman missed from 42 yards out following the penalties.
After the two teams exchanged three-and-outs to start the game, Iowa State overcame a penalty that called a 77-yard touchdown pass from Arnaud to Marquis Hamilton back to take a 7-0 lead. Alexander Robinson, who had 138 yards on 30 carries on the day, rushed for 48 yards on the series and Arnaud hit Hamilton again for the touchdown, this time from eight yards out.
Colorado later pinned the Cyclones on their two and intercepted Arnaud, getting the ball at the five. The Buffaloes faced fourth-and-goal at the one and were stuffed by a great surge from the Iowa State front seven.
"We looked a lot more like the 2009 Iowa State football team today," Rhoads said. "There was a great surge and a great finish to that play and it was a huge momentum boost."
Iowa State moved the ball but fumbled inside Colorado territory and the Buffaloes drove down and got a 22-yard field goal from Goodman to make 7-3. The game went into halftime at 10-3 after the Cyclones took advantage of good field position to get a 25-yard Grant Mahoney field goal at the horn.