Preparing for the Rutgers defense for Friday's New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, Barnett said the Scarlet Knights have a level of aggressiveness that he has never seen before.
"We haven't played a team that's blitzed as much as Rutgers has and we definitely haven't played a team that's going to one-on-one press you every play," Barnett said.
Barnett took over the starting job for the Cyclones midway through the season and finished with 1,178 passing yards and six touchdowns in five starts.
Iowa State averages 23.4 points per game, including 37 in the thrilling double-overtime win over No. 2 Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma held Iowa State to six points in the first week of Dec., but Barnett said Rutgers presents a different series of challenges than the Sooners.
"They'll blitz you every play, go one-on-one press coverage on the outside and just having that safety sitting back there," he said. "We're definitely going to have to beat their man coverage. We're going to have to make big plays. The whole defense, you can't pick one of them out because they're all very good. They're all very athletic and they all really catch your attention."
According to top offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele, the speed of the Rutgers front seven is a major challenge. "I would say the No. 1 thing is their speed and the way they're put together," Osemele said. "The guys that are in the 275-range and none of that is sloppy weight. It's all pretty much lean mass. They look good as a team and they recognize stunts very well, read their keys and stuff like that. So they fly around. None of what they do is basically orthodox. They're pretty unorthodox, so it's pretty hard to play against."
Of everyone on the game tape, Osemele said weakside linebacker Khaseem Greene stands out as the best player on the field.
"Right now, No. 20 pops off the field as a fast guy," he said. "He's as solid as can be. He flies around a lot."
In grading the Rutgers offense, co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year A.J. Klein has a lot of respect for the Scarlet Knights.
"Rutgers does a great job of disguising their formations and really motioning a lot of people at a place where they shouldn't be and motion them back into where they're supposed to be," Klein said. "They do a great job in moving around and trying to confuse defenses."
The outside linebacker who logged 101 tackles for ISU this year said that receiver Mohamed Sanu obviously stands out, but that the run game is their top priority.
"[Sanu] is an explosive player," Klein said. "We have been studying really hard on his routes and what he does. He's really an explosive player in the game. Obviously we have some things that we think could help shut him down.
"They're a power-run team too and not many people notice that. They notice the wide receivers and how explosive they are, but they'll run the ball and try to run it down your throats. They've been successful against a couple teams this year doing that. That's going to be our No. 1 priority is to stop the run."
As a unit, Klein said Rutgers reminds him most of Kansas State, which scored 30 points on Iowa State in the regular-season finale.
"They do the same type of personnel groupings and same types for formations and same types of plays," Klein said. "They're really similar in that and they have athletic kids."