Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts will play in the biggest game of their young NFL careers Sunday, but it won’t be the first time the two quarterbacks faced off in a high-stakes football game.
Purdy’s Iowa State Cyclones and Hurts’ Oklahoma Sooners battled it out in a Big 12 showdown back in 2019. The high-scoring game came down to the final seconds, with the Sooners coming out on top, 42-41.
Now, 1,177 days later, the two QBs will meet again when Purdy and the 49ers head to Philadelphia to play against Hurts’ Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.
“Yeah, it was a game,” Purdy said while reflecting on the college matchup. “Obviously, there was a lot of points scored, it was almost like you had to score every single time you had the ball. Different situation and scenario than what we're about to go through on Sunday, but it was a fun college game.
“It was a great experience to go against Jalen and they had a great team, and he was making plays and I feel like we had to do the same to keep up and stay alive in that game as well, but this is a different situation, different scenario going into Sunday.”
Hurts, too, knows it was a different situation than what’s to come Sunday, but acknowledged it still feels good to look back and know they were victorious.
“Obviously two different teams, two different times,” Hurts said. “I remember getting out early, had like five touchdowns in the first half, I think it was like 35-14 at halftime or something like that, and then they ended up coming back. It was a good game. I’m glad we won.”
Oklahoma’s 21-point lead in the first half was cut to one thanks to a 20-point fourth-quarter explosion from Iowa State.
But Iowa State coach Matt Campbell’s attempt to seal the deal fell short when Purdy’s two-point conversion pass was intercepted with 24 seconds left.
“I thought it was a completion,” Purdy said. “Obviously, it sucked not getting the completion and the game being over, but yeah, that was that.”
Both quarterbacks have seen plenty of success with their respective teams this season, even though Purdy came in later in the season after taking over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo.
Since doing so, the rookie quarterback has made himself very relevant, having yet to lose a game since taking over under center in Week 13. The 49ers are now riding their 12-game win streak into the NFC title game against the Eagles.
“I have a lot of respect for him," Hurts said of Purdy. "He’s always been a really good player. He has a lot of moxie, he makes plays and he’s been doing that since college so there’s no surprise to him when he was given this opportunity to see the success he’s having now.”
While that college clash is in the past, Purdy acknowledged there are a few things he can take away from that matchup.
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Purdy played in front of more than 86,000 fans in Norman, Okla. during that college game. And on Sunday, he will be playing in his first playoff road game in what's expected to be an intense atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field.
"Those kinds of games definitely helped," Purdy said. "I feel like with just a lot being on the line, in the moment, focusing on what's in front of you, focusing on the defense rather than getting caught up in the crowd. I played in a couple of those games in college and I think that was just a great experience for me to go back to and remember how I felt, what was going through my mind, how did it affect my decisions.
"I definitely feel like I've grown from it and that I went through something like that.”
Purdy has shown incredible poise and confidence all season that typically is not seen from a young rookie. And despite how high the stakes are Sunday, that shouldn't be any different in Philadelphia.