January 27, 2023

It’s hard to find a bigger breakout star in the NFL this season than Jalen Hurts. The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has become one of the best in the league this season with nearly 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns. He’ll likely be an MVP finalist, and the Eagles are a Super Bowl contender largely thanks to him.

Before he rose to NFL stardom, however, Hurts was an instant star at the college level. He first began his career in Alabama, where he led the Crimson Tide to the National Championship Game in both 2016 and 2017. The Tide failed to finish the job in 2016, and while they did in 2017, it was Tua Tagovailoa who received all the glory after replacing a struggling Hurts at halftime in the National Championship Game.

Hurts then spent a year as Tagovailoa’s backup, and while he saw decent playing time, the writing was on the wall. As a result, he moved to Oklahoma for the 2019 season to fill the void left by Kyler Murray’s departure. With Lincoln Riley’s Sooners, Hurts had their best statistical season by far, again leading them to the college football playoffs.

As Jalen Hurts prepares to play in his first NFC Championship game, we wanted to reflect on his college career. Here are Hurts’ five best moments from his time with Alabama and Oklahoma.

3. Jalen Hurts shines on his Oklahoma debut

Hurts’ most recent start in Alabama came in January 2018 in the National Championship Game. His first start in Oklahoma came in Week 1 of the 2019 season, meaning he went a full 20 months without starting a game. With so much spare time, some might have expected Hurts to look rusty in his Sooners debut, but he looked better than ever.

The Sooners welcomed D’Eriq King and the Houston Cougars to open the 2019 season. Hurts immediately proved he still had it, with 508 yards and six total touchdowns. In his first game, he broke the school record for total yards in a single game previously owned by Baker Mayfield with 396 yards.

Hurts put on many scintillating performances throughout the season, even finishing second in the Heisman voting. However, that statement win on his Sooners debut was his most memorable moment of his Oklahoma career.

2. Hurts and Alabama avenge loss to Clemson

The Crimson Tide went into the 2016 National Championship Game against Clemson with a perfect record of 14-0. Hurts didn’t play particularly well in that game, but with Alabama leading 10 into the fourth quarter, it looked like they were ending the perfect season. However, Deshaun Watson’s last-second touchdown on Hunter Renfrow gave Clemson the national title and ended Alabama’s pursuit of perfection.

As fate would have it, these teams met again the following season, this time in the Sugar Bowl. This time, Alabama dominated with a 24-6 win to end Clemson’s dreams of a replay. Jalen Hurts only averaged 160 yards and two touchdowns, but that was more than enough considering how dominant the defense was.

1. Hurts sparks Alabama’s comeback in the SEC Championship Game

Ironically, the best moment of Hurts’ college career came in a game he hadn’t even started. Tagovailoa had been the starters for the entire 2018 season and had found success in that role. However, Tagovailoa suffered an injury in the SEC championship game that forced Hurts back into action.

When Tagovailoa left the game, Alabama was seven behind Georgia early in the fourth quarter. Hurts led the tide to two key touchdown drives, giving them the lead by just over a minute. The defense then held back the Bulldogs’ offense to give the Tide the SEC crown.

This game mirrored the National Championship Game just 11 months earlier, also played against Georgia in Atlanta. Tagovailoa replaced Hurts in this game while the opposite happened in this one. The symmetry between the two games is incredible, cementing this as Jalen Hurts’ best college moment.

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