The sequel rarely lives up to its antecedent. But if Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts could somehow buck that trend, you’d have to imagine legions of NFL fans would be delighted.
Sunday’s NFC Championship represents the second time Purdy and Hurts have faced off. Their first encounter in November 2019, when they were star signal-callers at Iowa State and Oklahoma, respectively.
It was a clash of Big 12 stalwarts. Hurts and the Sooners came into the season as potential national championship contenders, thanks in large part to the stardom of their QB, who had just transferred from Alabama that offseason.
The Cyclones were no slouch, either. In Purdy and Breece Hall, they had a formidable one-two combo, one whose potential has only been magnified under the bright NFL lights.
OU walked out 42-41 winners, doing just enough to hold off a late Iowa State rally. Purdy and Hurts were faultless, as expected. And the game became an instant classic, one certain to linger in fans’ heads when they watch Purdy’s 49ers take on Hurts’ Eagles on Sunday.
MORE: NFL conference championship round playoff odds, lines, and point spreads
Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of just how special Purdy-Hurts Vol. 1 was:
Brock Purdy vs. Jalen Hurts college game box score
Revisiting epic Brock Purdy vs. Jalen Hurts college game in 2019
The air at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium was tinged with anxiety ahead of No. 9 Oklahoma’s clash with Iowa State. The Sooners were fresh off a seven-point loss to Kansas State the week before, a result that put their College Football Playoff chances in disarray.
Hurts was the big name, with many anointing him as the Heisman favorite coming into the year. Purdy, meanwhile, was in his second year as the Cyclones starter, leading his side to a solid, if unspectacular, showing in 2019.
It was a game billed as David vs. Goliath. And through the opening three quarters, Goliath won. Hurts was electric, finding future NFL star CeeDee Lamb for two lengthy touchdowns.
Hurts racked up over 300 yards of total offense and five touchdowns on the day, propelling the Sooners to a 42-21 lead at the start of the fourth.
That’s when Purdy and company came to life. The Iowa State star tossed a 3-yard touchdown four seconds into the frame, cutting Oklahoma’s lead to two scores.
Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts battled it out in college in a WILD 2019 showdown between @CycloneFB and @OU_Football 🔥👀
Who’s coming out on top when the two meet up in the NFC Championship Game this weekend? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/UVZoyx2TEw
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) January 24, 2023
MORE: Why did Brock Purdy choose Iowa State over Alabama, other colleges?
The Cyclones defense followed Purdy’s score up with a takeaway, ripping the ball from Lamb to set Iowa State up at the Sooners’ 32.
The Cyclones marched down the field slowly but surely, somehow amassing a 12-play drive to bring them on the cusp of the end zone. On the penultimate play, though, Purdy was driven to the ground, losing nine yards in the process.
Head coach Matt Campbell went for broke on fourth-and-goal, putting the ball back in Purdy’s hands. His pass attempt fell harmlessly to the turf, though, seemingly consigning the Cyclones to an L.
Someone didn’t tell Iowa State’s defense, though. The Cyclones forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, handing the ball back to Purdy and his troops with 4:30 left. It took the Cyclones all of one minute to make it count. Purdy zipped a 33-yard dime to Sean Shaw to cut OU’s lead down to just a touchdown. With 3:35 left in the game, Iowa State was undoubtedly back in it.
Iowa State added another turnover to its register, picking off Hurts on the ensuing drive to give its offense a chance. Purdy was surgical as the clock wound down, overcoming a false start and a strip sack on the game’s final drive before connecting with Charlie Kolar for a game-tying touchdown.
Or so viewers thought. At least until Campbell sent Purdy and co. back on the field, hoping to punch it in for two — and all but seal the momentous rally.
Purdy whipped a dart seemingly destined for wideout La’Michael Petty, who peeled off for a corner route. At the last second, though, Parnell Motley got his mitts on the ball, ripping it out of Petty’s grip — and delivering a much needed win to Boomer Sooner.
Iowa State nearly rallied from a 21-point 4th quarter deficit in their 2019 contest with Oklahoma, but Parnell Motley saved the game with this interception of a go-ahead 2-point conversion attempt with 24 seconds remaining pic.twitter.com/ewJcua5LHs
— SuperMisterNachoMan 🇷🇺 (@SuperMisterNac1) December 31, 2022
Craziest stats from Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts’ 2019 clash
Purdy’s coming out party
Purdy had already firmly grabbed hold of the starting QB job by the time he faced off against Hurts and the Sooners. But his display at The Palace on the Prairie gave fans a glimpse of what was to come.
The then-sophomore threw five touchdowns against Oklahoma’s lauded defense. He ran for another, accounting for all six of Iowa State’s scores. He also finished a few ticks below 300 yards, but did so on just 19 completions, an average of nearly 15 yards per pass.
No one knew just what Purdy would go on to achieve. But he certainly shined a beaming light on his potential on that cold Saturday night.
MORE: Why Brock Purdy fell to the end of the seventh round in the 2022 NFL Draft
Breece Hall makes it look easy
Long before he was a fantasy football darling, Breece Hall was once high three-star/low four-star recruit trying to make his name in college football. He wasn’t called upon too often against the Sooners.
But when he did, he performed admirably. Hall gashed OU’s defense for 110 yards on just 18 carries, an average of over six yards per run.
That’s no small feat, especially for a freshman tailback playing a ranked side for the first time in his college career.
Yet, Hall was unbothered. His sparkling showcase against Oklahoma certainly set the stage for an accolade-filled spell in Ames, Iowa.
Hurts puts in work
On a night when Purdy found the end zone on six different occasions (and failed to record a turnover), it’s easy to overlook Hurts’ numbers. But, as he did countless times that year, Hurts tore the opposition defense apart.
He found the end zone three times by air and twice by foot, also eclipsing the 300 total yard clip in the process. And Hurts took plenty of licks that game, carrying the ball up the field on 22 separate occasions. If anyone had any doubt that Hurts could be an elite dual threat runner, he put them to rest with his gutsy showing vs. the Cyclones.
CeeDee = TD
Hurts wasn’t the only Sooner setting the scoreboard alight. Because junior CeeDee Lamb flashed his NFL-ready tools with an eight-catch, 167-yard showcase. Lamb reeled in not one, but two Hurts touchdown passes and accounted for 40 percent of Hurts’ completions on that brisk autumn night. He snagged 62 passes for 1,327 yards in 2019, earning consensus All-American honors.
The future (was mostly) bright
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Cyclones’ duel with the Sooners was the preponderance of talent on the field and sidelines.
The two sides had a combined 19 players be drafted into the NFL, including then-juniors Rhamondre Stevenson and Trey Sermon. That’s a lot of talent. And on that nippy fall day, a lot of that group put up glimmering performances — ones that ring eternal to Iowa State and Oklahoma fans alike.