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The Best Cyclone Performance Against: TCU Feat. an Interview with Josh Lenz

We have a special guest this week as we once again go back to the Paul Rhoads era.

Northern Iowa v Iowa State

After coming off of Baylor Hate Week, we go to the other end of the spectrum in TCU. For the most part, TCU is a pretty relaxed Big 12 school that we really have no reason to hate. As far as I know, they have never taken tents away from our sideline when it is 120 degrees, so yeah, TCU is on our good side. Although only winning 2 of the 10 all time matchups, both wins have been memorable for Iowa State. 017 will always be a game to remember for Cyclone Nation, as it was kind of a “Hey, we’re here, and we’re going to make some noise in the polls,” kind of game. Although that game will be etched into the memory of any Cyclone fan, we won’t be looking at that game today.

TCU v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

Iowa State is coming off of a solid 2011 season, notching a win over #2 Oklahoma State and making a bowl game appearance (Pinstripe Bowl vs. Rutgers). The team would return an explosive offense at times, and a stout defense. Let’s fast forward a bit.

Oklahoma State v Iowa State Photo by Reese Strickland/Getty Images

On October 6, 2012, the Cyclones woke up in Fort Worth, TX for their first conference game of the season. This was TCU’s first home game as a member of the Big 12, while sitting on a 12 game home win streak, the longest such streak in the country at the time. On top of that, the Horned Frogs come into the game ranked 15th in the country. Iowa State last won a game against a ranked team on the road just 11 months prior, thrashing the Red Raiders of Taco Tech, 41-7.

The Cyclones also had some quarterback controversy, with Paul Rhoads giving Jared Barnett the starting job the week of. Though just being named starter and going through an up and down career, Jared Barnett would show up to play this week against the Horned Frogs.

Fox Sports’ key to this game was “Explosive Plays,” and senior wideout Josh Lenz would not disappoint in that aspect of the game. Just 4 plays into the game, Lenz would get past sophomore cornerback Kevin White, making his way to the endzone on a 51 yard touchdown to put the ‘Clones up 7-0 just 1:12 into the game. Lenz said, “After the first touchdown, I went back to coach and told him ‘I can get by these guys, they can’t guard me,’’. And man, oh man would he prove that as the afternoon went on.

After a field goal and a punt by Iowa State, TCU was finally able to get on the board to make it 10-7. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Jared Barnett once again hit Josh Lenz over the middle on a perfectly executed post route, where Lenz would find the endzone for second time in the first quarter, this time for 74 yards (once again beating TCU corner Kevin White, might I add). “I knew they ran a lot of cover 4, so the post would be open, I felt that a lot of people that looked at me really underestimated my speed, and I took advantage,” Lenz told WRNL. After a scoreless second quarter, Iowa State would take a six point lead into the half, 16-10.

The Cyclone defense would get a stop on TCU’s first drive of the second half, and the offense would get back on track. This time driving 80 yards down the field, capped off by yet another Jared Barnett to Josh Lenz touchdown. This one was a different story, “One thing with JB (Jared Barnett) was the communication we had, I looked over and yelled ‘I’m running a slant’ (you can see Lenz point it out to Barnett below) because I knew they were running man coverage, and I ran the slant and scored a touchdown,”. Yelling out to your quarterback (and also the defense) what route you are running and then scoring on it? Legendary.

While the offense would be unable to put any more points up on the board, the defense would prevail against, redshirt freshman quarterback, Trevone Boykin. Now cue the Tom Petty rendition of “Won’t Back Down” as we head to the 4th quarter.

The offense is already driving, getting help from a personal foul on a 3rd down that would keep the drive alive. Once in the red zone again, Paul Rhoads and staff would come out of a timeout looking for Lenz once more on a flag route in the corner of the end zone. Though Lenz would not come down with this, it quite possibly set up the next play.

Barnett would hand to halfback Jeff Woody, who would take the ball towards the left end, before pitching to a ready-to-throw Josh Lenz. Lenz would then find wide open tight end Ernst Brun, who would walk into the endzone, putting the Cyclones up by 2 scores on a miraculous play. How did Lenz become the one to throw the touchdown?

“It was kind of a tryout, we ran it a lot in practice and if you could do it, you could do it, and I could do it and the coaches trusted I could make the throw in a game situation,” and Josh proved that he could do it once before, coming in a win at UCONN in the 2011 season. “UCONN I really got to just let it fly, but I didn’t have as much time this time around and had to have a little finesse on it,” though throwing a tad short, he was able to get it to the open man and made the play. “It’s always in the game plan...we didn’t want 3 points we wanted a touchdown,” said Lenz.

That would be all for the Dubuque native, but nothing short of a memorable performance in the eyes of ISU fans. “JB (Jared Barnett) played a hell of a game,” Lenz told us. One thing that was really special this game according to him was the crowd interactions and just the atmosphere at Amon G. Carter Stadium that fall afternoon. “We were all excited for the challenge...All you hear is your sideline, your team, your fans, everything else was just silent. I vividly remember all that,” Lenz would add.

Iowa State would finish the scoring off via a pick-6 from defensive end David Irving, and go on to win the game (and kill the home game winning streak) 37-23. Josh Lenz would finish the best game of his career with 5 catches, 147 yards, and 3 touchdowns, while posting a perfect QBR of 100.0 with his 15 yard touchdown pass.

One little tidbit from this glorious weekend, I also scored 4 touchdown in my (just as important) 6th grade football game, while also wearing #19. Coincidence? It was obviously all just pure skill from both of us athletes.

New Orleans Saints v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Josh Lenz would go on to have a practice squad career in the NFL, featuring stints with the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, and Houston Texans, respectively.