FOX Sports College Football Analyst
Every week, RJ Young runs through a handful of nuggets, anecdotes, and statistics from all over the place college football. Let’s go deep.
When the San Francisco 49ers challenge the Philadelphia Eagles for NFC supremacy on Sunday, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Big 12 fans can confidently say they’ve seen this movie before. Or at least they can say they’ve seen the two protagonists: quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy.
For Hurts, playing for the NFC title in what has been an MVP-caliber season doesn’t feel so far removed from the kind of career he enjoyed in college, first at Alabama and then as a grad transfer at OU.
When he arrived at OU in January 2019, the task before him was to continue his dominance of the Big 12 and lead the program to what would be its third trip to the College Football Playoff.
Nine games into the 2019 season, however, the Sooners were close to missing those two goals. After a 48-41 loss to Kansas State in Manhattan, the Sooners hosted a Cyclones program that was talented enough to beat any team in the league, but young enough to struggle to close out games.
On November 9, 2019, the Sooners, the league’s standard-bearer for nearly a quarter-century, ran into a Cyclones team led by a quarterback who didn’t care about that legacy or buy into the narrative his team had to do. to lose.
Purdy, like Hurts, came to play.
His stat lines mirrored his play on the field in a high-scoring back-and-forth affair that epitomized the identity of the Big 12 in the 2010s. Every play was planned for six. Every passing play was destined to become an explosive play, and every defender knew they were facing a team that would feature true 11-on-11 football.
Quarterbacks weren’t just running threats, they could be the best rusher on the field on any down. And just as the defenses moved to commit an eighth in the box, the quarterbacks went over.
Philly and San Fran’s starting quarterbacks, who will combine to become the youngest pairing in history to start an NFC title game (Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), did in 2019 as they knew it’ to be right where they are in 2023.
Purdy threw for 282 yards and five TDs while rushing for 55 yards and a score on the ground. Pains countered with 273 yards passing for three TDs, plus another 68 yards and two TDs with his legs.
With the game in the balance, down seven and just 2:30 left in regulation, Purdy turned the Cyclones around and demolished Memorial Stadium. It came down to tight end Norman, Oklahoma native Charlie Kolar for six from 13 yards out with 35 seconds left to put the Sooners up 42-41.
And then ISU’s Matt Campbell put the game in his QB’s hands when he went for two. With two receivers out on routes and rolling to his left, Purdy tried to fit the football in a too-tight window while Kolar was wide open across the goal line.
Oklahoma dodged a bullet at a time when a second loss would have ended any chance of making the CFP. Following the 2019 season, Hurts was drafted in the second round by the Eagles after a storied college football career that ended with a Heisman Trophy runner-up finish.
Purdy, with unanimous All-American running back Breece Hall, led the Cyclones to their first major bowl victory, against Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl in 2020. Still, he was drafted dead last of the 2022 NFL: Mr. Irrelevant
Three years later, Purdy, a rookie, is undefeated in eight starts, enjoys another all-world tailback in Christian McCaffrey and is the personification of what this game means to so many: He was the right player, in the right time, on the right team, because he didn’t quit.
2. 42 starters projected in the Power 5 are transfers
Purdy and Hurts also represent two different trends in sports. Purdy, who started nearly 50 games in college, is the type of player we’re unlikely to see in the future with the transfer window and immediate eligibility in the sport becoming commonplace.
In an analysis for “The Number One College Football Show,” I found that 42 of the 68 Power 5 programs, besides Notre Dame, are projected to start a transfer at quarterback in 2023. Five years ago, that number would have been laughable . . Now, I hope it continues to grow.
In the Big 12 alone, nine of the 14 members are expected to start 2023 with a transfer at quarterback, and three are projected to start a quarterback who is playing football in his third program: BYU’s Kedon Slovis (USC, Pitt), Oklahoma. State’s Alan Bowman (Texas Tech, Michigan) and Cincinnati’s Emory Jones (Florida, Arizona State).
Are transfer QBs the new normal?
RJ Young shares his thoughts on the changing QB strategy in college football.
3. Jaden Rashada and Cahl-a-rah-da?
With Rashada still considering his college options for 2023, I wrote about the sweep of Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and his Colorado Buffaloes.
“With his social media ubiquity: 3.1 million followers on Instagram, 1.5 million Twitter followers, a documentary series called ‘Coach Prime’ on Prime Video and the cover of GQ magazine, Sanders has already turned Colorado, a program suffering from an identity crisis for the better part of 15 years, into the greatest in sports history in just six weeks.
“Prime also helped secure his son, Shedeur, a historic NIL sponsorship deal with Gatorade while at JSU. It was the first of its kind for an HBCU athlete and put his name alongside “other Gatorade athletes, including Serena Williams, JJ Watt, Zion Williamson. and DK Metcalf.”
[Deion Sanders’ impact at Colorado is only beginning]
I’m still waiting to see who can make a better pitch than this for the best quarterback available in the 2023 recruiting class. As my colleague Bryan Fischer wrote about the Pac-12, quarterback play in that conference it could be the best in the country, and Prime could jump to the top.
“Hell, at this point it’s rare to meet anyone connected to college football who isn’t a little curious to see how Prime Coach Deion Sanders himself will try to transform the Buffs from woeful to winning. Things could change considerably. that the calendar turns from September to fall and the losses start to mount, but the history of college football until the first pitches won’t be about Georgia aiming for a triple, seeing if Texas comes back or if Michigan can reign. supreme in the Big Ten again, but rather the last in a Prime experiment in Boulder.”
[Loaded with top QBs and big-name coaches, is Pac-12 on the rise?]
Is Jaden Rashada bound for Colorado?
RJ Young discusses Deion Sanders’ success on the recruiting trail.
4. Michigan fans, calm down
In three weeks, Michigan…
- He publicly staged his now-annual soap opera with Jim Harbaugh, who seemed as likely to return to the NFL this January as he did last January. Only after the university president himself claimed to have persuaded Harbaugh to stay did Harbaugh agree to coach the two defending Big Ten champions. When you realize that there will be nine coaches in the sport who will make $9 million or more, you can see why it can feel taken for granted. At this point, there is little reason for Harbaugh to make less money than Jimbo Fisher, and he currently does.
- Matt Weiss unexpectedly fired the former UM assistant after a criminal investigation dating back to December was made public.
- Committed to expanding their tunnel at Michigan Stadium, removing 45 seats from the stadium to make room, after another altercation between the Wolverines and visiting players, most notably the Michigan State Spartans, led to a physical confrontation.
- Earlier this week, we spotted Blake Corum’s 2017 BC2 camo-wrapped Chevy Camaro being stolen. What does this mean for Wolverine fans, though? Nothing. how were you Carry on.
Just like the list, I’d hate to check out your favorite show’s daily activities until August. Because? It didn’t matter last season. Despite turning over both coordinators and a quarterback derby entering the third game of the regular season, Michigan proved to be the best football team above the Mason-Dixon line.
Michigan’s tumultuous offseason
RJ Young shares his thoughts on the latest Michigan news, including the firing of Matt Weiss and Jim Harbaugh amid potential NCAA violations.
Bonus: back to school with Gus
It’s fitting that in February, Black History Month, FOX Sports celebrates Gus Johnson, who spent 2022 attending Harvard to complete the Ivy’s Advanced Leadership Initiative. The hour-long documentary, “Back to School with Gus Johnson,” airs Feb. 18 on FOX.
As a lifelong fan of Gus, I look forward as much as I look forward to hearing him call plays at the “Big Noon Kickoff” on fall Saturdays. For many of us, his enthusiasm and passion for college football and basketball is the soundtrack to our most memorable moments as fans.
Learning how he has become the man he is and why he chose to pursue this opportunity at Harvard will certainly be rewarding.
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of “The Number One College Football Show” podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.
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