Hurts, Purdy Played in College Classic


San Francisco 49ers Brock Purdy and Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Hurts | Images by Getty Images

When the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers square off in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, it will be a matchup of two familiar yet unlikely starting quarterbacks: Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts.

One, a rookie seventh-round draft pick who was the final player selected last April. The other, a dual threat who had to work his way to the top.

But these two have met before.

After Hurts lost his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa in Alabama, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma. He would lead the Sooners to a Big 12 Championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff in his final collegiate season in 2019.

However, earlier that season, the Sooners were tested by a suddenly confident Iowa State program with an unknown, still-developing quarterback. That quarterback was sophomore Brock Purdy in his second season as the starter for the Cyclones after being forced into the lineup as a freshman because of injuries.

Oklahoma took an early lead, and the game seemed all but over when the Sooners took a commanding 35-14 lead into halftime. However, Iowa State rallied in the fourth quarter to have a chance to tie or take the lead with 24 seconds remaining.

The Cyclones opted for the latter, as Purdy let a pass fly toward the endzone on a two-point conversion attempt. The pass was wrestled away from his intended receiver by Oklahoma’s Parnell Motley to preserve a 42-41 win for Oklahoma.

Purdy finished the game with 282 passing yards and five touchdown passes and scored another on the ground. Hurts threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns while scoring two more with his feet.

Purdy and Iowa State finished that season with a 7-6 record and a loss to No. 14 Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl. Hurts finished second in Heisman Trophy voting, and Oklahoma was trounced by LSU in the College Football Playoffs semifinal.

Purdy played two more years at Iowa State, while Philadelphia drafted Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Fast forward to the present day, and plenty has changed. Something clicked for the Eagles midway through last season, and they carried that momentum into this year, earning the No.1 seed in the NFC as Hurts became a contender for the league’s most valuable player.

The 49ers have won 11 games in a row and earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC despite turning to their third starting quarterback of the season in Purdy. Not only is Purdy now 7-0 in his career as a starter, but he is only the fifth rookie quarterback to lead his team to a conference championship game and looking to become the first to win a Super Bowl.

“He’s a really good player,” Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said when asked about Purdy during a team press conference on Tuesday.

“He plays extremely fast. He knows where to put his eyes, and he gets out of trouble at a pretty good clip.”

The NFC Championship will be played at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday in Philadelphia.

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