"It means a lot to us because we get to go out the right way, going out on a win, on a Bowl win," defensive end Christopher Lyle said.
Iowa State trailed 3-0 early in the second quarter of the game but took over the ball after stopping the Gophers (6-7) on down inside the Cyclone 30 with just under nine minutes to go in the first half.
The Cyclones used their running game to jump start an offense that struggled in the first stanza of the game. Quarterback Austen Arnaud took the ball in from nine yards out to give Iowa State its first lead at 7-3.
David Sims, the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, picked off Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber with 1:23 to go in the half and gave the Cyclones a chance to expand their lead.
"The interception and the ensuing return that David got off of that I thought was great momentum that was wise to try to capitalize on," Rhoads said.
Iowa State took advantage of that Gopher mistake and went right down and scored to take a 14-3 lead into the half. Jake Williams caught a 39-yard touchdown strike from Arnaud after the player covering Williams fell down to give him a considerable amount of separation.
The Cyclones did not score in the second half and had to make several key stops to preserve their victory, however. The biggest of those stops came with the Gophers in field goal range late in the fourth quarter when Ter'ran Benton recovered a Minnesota fumble at the Cyclone 15.
"You know, we moved the ball. We moved the ball some. And again, you know, there was some inconsistency there and I will credit Iowa State, credit Iowa State's defense," Gopher coach Tim Brewster said. "They're a good defensive football team, a well coached football team."
After that fumble, Iowa State was able to bleed the final four minutes from the clock to take the victory. Iowa State got those two turnovers and made them count for points and a drive to run the clock out. Minnesota, although, got four turnovers from the Cyclones and only converted them into three points.
"For me it was just Coach Rhoads came up to me. He said, ‘Protect the football. He said, If you see a hole, hit it,'" running back Alexander Robinson said. "'Otherwise just keep two hands on it and get as much as you can and get down.'"
Minnesota took a 3-0 lead on a 36-yard field goal by Eric Ellstad before the two Iowa State touchdowns. Ellstad missed from 34 yards after a Arnaud fumble on the drive before the Gophers scored their one and only touchdown of the game on a pass from Weber to Nick Tow-Arnett from 23 yards out to make it 14-10 after a successful Gopher fake punt.
Ellstad hit another field goal to make it a one-point game following a key stop from Iowa State after a fumble by Arnaud. Minnesota had two promising drives, including their final one, to take the lead stopped by a solid Cyclone defense after that.
This 2009 Iowa State winning football team never had a losing record," Rhoads said. "By finishing with a winning record and you go into the off-season with a program that certainly is on its way, I guess I would just say it best that way."
Robinson led Iowa State with 137 yards on 22 carries and Arnaud threw for 216 yards in the game. Williams had 83 yards receiving including that touchdown as well.