A college rivalry will be rekindled this Sunday in the NFC Championship game between the Eagles and 49ers.
Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts and his San Francisco counterpart Brock Purdy last faced off in 2019 when Hurts was making his name known at Oklahoma after losing a starting spot at Alabama to Tua Tagovailoa. Purdy was in a similar situation to the one he faced this year, being the third-string quarterback looking for a chance to shine at Iowa State.
Oklahoma had mostly dominated Iowa State since 1990 before the Cyclones ended an 18-game losing streak with an upset victory in 2017. Then prior to Hurts’ arrival, Purdy led Iowa State to a 48-42 win over Oklahoma in 2018, passing for 318 yards with four touchdowns.
The pair met for the first time the following season and put on a show in a high-scoring November game to remember. Hurts got the best of Purdy, finishing the day with 273 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-41 Oklahoma win that came down to a 2-point conversion try for the Cyclones. Purdy, who erased a 21-point halftime deficit, racked up 282 yards for five touchdowns in defeat.
After Oklahoma jump out to the early lead, Purdy led a fourth quarter comeback to set up a dramatic final minutes.
With less than two minutes to go and needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to win, Purdy used his legs to get a first down inside Oklahoma’s 30. On third-and-goal, Purdy dropped back to find tight end Charlie Kolar for a 13-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 42-41. Rather than tying it up, Iowa State decided to go for the win. Purdy was intercepted in the end zone and Oklahoma, ranked ninth in the country at the time, survived.
Will Sunday’s match up with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line render itself to be just as close of a game?
After being selected last — 262nd — in the 2022 NFL Draft, Purdy has had a lot to prove and has since exceeded expectations. Despite being know as “Mr. Irrelevant”, he has lead the 49ers to their second straight NFC Championship after both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were lost to injury
Hurts, who was drafted in 2020 as the backup for Carson Wentz, has shown his stature as a franchise quarterback and has entered himself into the conversation of an MVP candidate since taking over the starting role in 2021.
Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium will prove to be a notable reunion and one that may just be as competitive, if not more, than the last.