Barnett leads Cyclones to biggest upset in school history


Quarterback Jared Barnett passes deep down the field to an open reciever. Barnett had a career-high night in completions (31), attempts (58), passing yards (376), passing touchdowns (3), total plays (72) and total offense (460).

Jake Calhoun

After facing the greatest challenge of his young career, Jared Barnett is still perfect.

Along with setting career-highs in almost every statistical category, 19-year-old quarterback is now 3-0 at the helm of the ISU football team after leading it to the biggest win in school history — a 37-31 double-overtime win against No. 2 Oklahoma State on Friday night at Jack Trice Stadium.

“We talked about converting our opportunities in this game,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads. “If we moved the ball down the field, got on the other side of the 50-yard line and in the red zone, we needed to convert the drive.

“We didn’t do that in the first quarter, or the first half for the most part, and [Barnett] was never rattled by that.”

With Barnett under center, the Cyclones (6-4, 3-4 Big 12) were propelled by those three straight wins to find themselves bowl eligible for the first time since 2009 — Rhoads’ first year as coach.

“I’m not going to lie, I was kind of worried,” said receiver Darius Reynolds. “[Barnett] is a young quarterback, so composure is not really something you find in big games out of those redshirt freshmen, but JB has handled it very well.”

In the closing minutes of the first quarter with the game scoreless, Barnett threw a pass into the arms of OSU linebacker Shaun Lewis, who returned it 70 yards for the first touchdown of the game.

However, Barnett never let it get to him.

“Jared is one of the most mature guys on the team even though he’s 19 years old,” said running back Jeff Woody, who scored the game-winning touchdown in the second overtime. “He’s one of the guys that you can’t shake, you can’t rattle him because he is so mature beyond his years. Something goes wrong and you know you don’t have to worry about him dwelling on it because he knows to put it behind him.”

With the OSU offense emerging from a 10-point halftime lead with a two-minute, 80-yard touchdown drive led by quarterback Brandon Weeden, Barnett answered with three scoring drives to tie the game at 24.

It was from there that Barnett and the ISU offense finished the astonishing victory in double overtime.

Barnett had career highs in both pass completions and attempts, going 31-for-58. However, to have Barnett throw that many times was not necessarily part of the game plan.

“One of the objectives was to complete passes,” Rhoads said. “We knew they’d pack it in with the success we had running the ball the past two games, so we needed to complete passes to soften them up and take advantage of some things.”

Balancing the pass and run game was a strategy that was projected to go for naught, as Rhoads had said, because of Oklahoma State’s awareness of the ISU running game, which had been averaging 183.0 yards heading into the game.

This opened the door for Barnett to battle the OSU passing game, which had been averaging almost 400 yards coming into the game, for success in the air.

“We haven’t done that yet this season,” said receiver Darius Darks. “As you know, we’ve been pretty much a balanced team with running and throwing the ball. [So] to line up today and [have the ball thrown] that many times was definitely exciting.”

The career night did not end there for Barnett, as he eclipsed the 200-yard mark in passing yards with 376 and also had more than one passing touchdown with three, both for the first time in his collegiate career.

By trusting in the game plan the ISU offense had implemented going into the contest — sustaining drives and keeping the OSU offense off the field — Barnett was able to show resiliency in beating the No. 2 Cowboys (10-1, 7-1).

“I feel like we really executed well,” Barnett said. “Sometimes we had miscues, but for the most part we executed the game plan and we did what we had to do to keep our defense on the sideline and drive down the field and put the ball in the end zone.”

Barnett said he has already shifted his focus to Iowa State’s next game —which will be against Oklahoma at Norman, Okla., on Nov. 26 — but not without the support of his teammates.

“You’ve just got to have the right mindset,” Barnett said of overcoming adversity in tight situations. “You’ve got to have the right mindset knowing that you’re going to get the ball right back and you have to drive down the field and score.

“Just having the whole team behind me, it just made it a lot easier.”