FORT WORTH, Texas — Don't call it an upset.
The ISU football team has performed countless upsets during the four years under coach Paul Rhoads, almost to the point where the players are no longer fazed by the significance of them.
There was little surprise on Saturday, when Iowa State defeated No. 15 Texas Christian (TCU) 37-23 in its inaugural home game as a member of the Big 12.
"That's what we're looking for, is for it to not be an upset," said Josh Lenz, senior wide receiver. "We want to be one of those teams that people want to upset. We've been working towards this for a long time, so it feels good to come down here and get the win."
The win for the Cyclones (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) ended TCU's winning streak of 12, which was the longest in the nation coming into the game.
Iowa State has now defeated ranked opponents in the state of Texas for three consecutive years for the first time in school history, having beaten No. 22 Texas in 2010 and No. 19 Texas Tech in 2011 prior to this game.
It also marked the first time since 1977 that Iowa State had beaten a top-15 team on the road (24-21 win at No. 9 Nebraska).
"You have to give all the credit to coach Rhoads and Iowa State," said TCU coach Gary Patterson after the game. "They came into our house, beat us fair and square, and pushed us around. That is only our fourth loss in four years."
Staring down the barrel of another possible four-game losing streak for the team's second straight 3-1 start, a breath of fresh air for the Cyclones came in the play of quarterback Jared Barnett. Barnett again marked his first start of the season with a win on the road against a ranked team from Texas.
After the game, Rhoads said he named Barnett the starter last Friday before the team's walkthrough after seeing him progress through practice as the favorable choice.
"There was probably experienced poise, if that makes sense," Rhoads said of Barnett. "Last year as a redshirt freshman, he went out there with probably pretty strong nerves and performed. Today, he knew he could do that — he's done that in the past."
Barnett beat out quarterback Steele Jantz, who turned the ball over four times while completing 50 percent of his passes in the team's loss to Texas Tech on Sept. 29, for the starting role.
The Garland, Texas, native went 12-for-21 for 183 yards with three touchdowns and one interception and is now 4-3 as a starter.
The choice target for Barnett revealed itself in Josh Lenz, who tallied three receiving touchdowns — the first time an ISU receiver caught three touchdown passes since Todd Blythe did so against Texas A&M in 2005 — while notching a career-high 147 receiving yards.
"It's not unexpected coming from Josh; he's a great player, a great receiver. He's able get open very well," Barnett said.
Lenz accounted for four total touchdowns — three receiving and one passing on a trick play for his second-career passing touchdown — for what Rhoads agreed was the defining game of his career as a true senior.
Also coming to fruition for the Cyclones was the play of the offensive line, which allowed one sack of Barnett after allowing four of Jantz against Texas Tech.
"Our strength coach has been harping on them all week, saying that they were weak, and that they couldn't handle it," Barnett said. "I think they really responded today. They played well against a very good defensive line."
The defense was able to hold the Horned Frogs (4-1, 1-1) to 23 points, extending Rhoads' record to 19-1 when holding opposing teams to less than 24 points.
Senior linebacker Jake Knott said having Barnett go out and lead the offense to execute helped the defense keep its consistency.
"He was a spark for the offense," Knott said of Barnett. "To go out there and get playmakers the ball and make smart decisions, especially just watching it as a defensive guy, it gives you a ton of confidence to go out there and battle."
The defense struggled to keep up its production against Texas Tech as the offense sputtered to 189 total yards.
With the heart of the Big 12 schedule on the horizon for Iowa State, the notion of an upset now becomes even less of a rarity.
"I think it's been feeding into it all along," Rhoads said of his team's past upset victories. "I believe we've got a good football team. I said leading into it [that] we have our most talented team, and now it's our job as a program to put the best team out there.
"We need to be a good football team."