Jalen Hurts, Brock Purdy had an epic duel as college football stars in 2019

Sunday’s NFC Championship Game wouldn’t be the first time this happened Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brooke Purdy square off.

Hurts, in his sophomore season with the Eagles, made his way to the University of Oklahoma for his final season of college football in 2019 after losing his starting job Toa Tagovailoa in Alabama. On a November afternoon in Norman, Oklahoma, Hertz and Al Auner find themselves facing a fierce comeback from Purdy and… Iowa tornadoes.

Oklahoma had long dominated Iowa, but the Hurricanes were a thorn in OU’s side once Matt Campbell took over the long-struggling program.

In 2017, ISU went to Norman and upset no. 3 Sooners, 38-31, snapping an 18-game losing streak to Oklahoma that stretched back to 1990. A year later at Ames, Iowa State-Oklahoma put up another fight and ended up losing, 37-27.

At that point, Purdy was the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart at Iowa State. A few weeks later, injuries drove Purdy—then just a freshman—to work. He led ISU to a wild 48-42 win over Oklahoma State and never gave up his starting role. Sound familiar?

Purdy was the 262nd and final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and spent most of the season in the third-place finish of the 49ers. But injuries Tri Lance And Jimmy Garoppolo Purdy forced action, and the rookie was admirably up to the task and The 49ers are a game away from the Super Bowl.

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) during a college football game between Iowa State and Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) during a college football game between Iowa State and Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Hurts, Oklahoma jumped out to a big lead at halftime

Again in 2019, Purdy was in his second season as a starter for ISU while adding Oklahoma Hurts, who would become the program’s third consecutive quarterback to finish as a Heisman Trophy finalist (Baker Mayfield And Kyler Murray won the award, Hurts finished second).

When Hurts and Purdy first went toe-to-toe, Oklahoma was ranked No. 9 in the country but was giving up its first loss of the season, a heartbreaking 48-41 at Kansas State. Iowa was 5-3 and took big numbers on offense with Purdy at quarterback and Brees Hall at running back.

But Oklahoma had an explosive offense of its own and jumped out into the lead. In the first half, Hurts threw three touchdown passes – including two to Sir Lamb – Added two more on the floor.

Purdy had thrown two touchdown passes of his own, but Oklahoma led at halftime 35-14 and it looked like the game was going to turn into a rout.

But Purdy and the Hurricanes had other ideas.

Purdy led an epic Iowa comeback

OU’s lead was 42-21 going into the fourth quarter, setting the stage for an incredible comeback – one that would come shortly after.

The first play of the fourth quarter was Purdy’s third touchdown pass of the day, a three-yard play connection with tight end Chase Allen to make it 42-28.

On the ensuing possession, the Iowa defense got the ball back with Lamb stripped, but Purdy and the offense didn’t take advantage because the Sooners got a fourth stop-and-goal with 7:37 to play.

Even after that pit stop, Purdy and the Hurricanes kept their feet on the gas. The defense forced a quick punt and put the ISU offense back on the field. This time, after making some great plays with his feet, Purdy found Sean Shaw Jr. for a 33-yard touchdown to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 42-35 with 3:35 to play.

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, 15, during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, 15, during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Iowa still had two timeouts remaining, so Hurts and the Oklahoma offense needed to pick up some first downs to finally put the game through.

Instead, disaster struck when Hurts committed his first huge error of the game with 2:53 remaining. On third-and-seven from No. 28 OU’s, Hurts darted right and inexplicably threw a pass into traffic as an Iowa fullback shut up. Lawrence White caught the pass and returned it to the Oklahoma 35. Suddenly, Iowa was in a massive position to tie the game—or even take the lead.

Whether it was his arms or his legs, the Oklahoma defense had no answers for Purdy. Purdy swooped in from a 15-yard clutch on a scramble on 3rd and 13th and later set up a going-goal situation with a neatly placed throw to Charlie Kollar.

The two would connect again a few plays later. This time, it was a third-and-goal from 13 when Purdy stood tall in the pocket with pressure in his face and found Kollar to jump in with 24 seconds to play.

With the score now 42-41, Campbell and the Iowa coaching staff had to make a decision. Should they kick the extra point and go to overtime or go for the win on the road?

They decided to go for the win. ISU’s offense remained on the field, but the comeback for the ages could not be completed.

Purdy dropped back to pass on the two-point conversion attempt. He tried to fit pitcher Michael Pettaway through a very narrow window. The ball hit Betway in the hands, but two OU defenders were in position and ripped the ball away.

The attempt was not good and Oklahoma somehow escaped with a 42-41 win.

The Hurts meet Purdy in the NFC Championship on Sunday

Purdy finished the day 19 of 30 for 282 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 55 yards and scored in the loss. On the other hand, Hurts completed 18 of 26 throws for 273 yards and three touchdowns, and added 68 yards and two scores on the ground.

Oklahoma would go on to win the Big 12 title and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Sooners were wrecked in the semi-finals 63-28 by Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers, who went on to win the national championship.

It was Hurts’ last college game and he was selected in the second round by the Eagles in the 2020 NFL Draft. Initially a backup to Carson WentzHurts took over as the Eagles’ starter in 2021 and led the team to the postseason. His play has taken it to a new level this season. The Eagles were the #1 seed in the NFC with Hurts rising in the MVP conversation. And now after that Blast victory over New York Giants On Saturday, he has the Eagles up for the Super Bowl.

Purdy would spend two more seasons as the quarterback at Iowa. By the time he left Ames, he was the program’s all-time leader in attempts, completions, completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns.

Despite his strong college career, he was never seen as a proven NFL player. The 49ers selected him with the literal last pick in the 2022 draft, 262nd overall. Incredibly, Purdy would start the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia just nine months later.

Will Purdy get the best of Hurts this time around?

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