Texas' Sam Ehlinger will be in the spotlight every week this season
While the Big 12 has taken its lumps on the field at times, one thing the conference does unquestionably well is produce quality quarterbacks by the bunches. The league can lay claim to nine NFL first-round picks at the position in the past decade and has produced the overall No. 1 pick and Heisman Trophy winner in back-to-back seasons alone.
Thanks mostly to the prolific Texas pipeline of signal-callers that is the lifeblood of the league past and present, the Big 12 has been at the forefront of the offensive evolution in college football. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see an eye-popping good performance from a QB in the league just about every week.
Though some big names like Kyler Murray and Will Grier have moved on, 2019 once again sees a stacked group across the conference that will make every game count. With that in mind, here are the best quarterback matchups featuring a Big 12 quarterback this season:
1. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) vs. Sam Ehlinger (Texas) — Oct. 12
The Red River Rivalry is annually one of the biggest games in the country and this year the stakes could be highest in almost a decade with a potential College Football Playoff berth on the line in Dallas. This year’s edition is as juicy as ever with Hurts taking over in Norman and Ehlinger coming off a year where he was responsible for 41 TDs. Given the way the two can beat you with their legs as well as their accurate arms, this is going to be a long week for both defensive coordinators.
2. Brock Purdy (Iowa State) vs. Sam Ehlinger (Texas)— Nov. 16
Purdy burst onto the scene last year and instantly turned the Cyclones into one of the toughest teams in the league to play with his ability to get the ball out quickly and find the open receiver down the field. ISU’s trip to Austin has the potential to not only lay the groundwork for a conference title game appearance but could also determine the All-Big 12 first-team QB given how good these two are.
3. Alan Bowman (Texas Tech) at Khalil Tate (Arizona) — Sep. 14
Bowman was hampered by serious injuries in 2018 but still impressed as a true freshman for the Red Raiders. While Kliff Kingsbury is no longer in Lubbock, the incoming Utah State staff led by head coach Matt Wells produced one of the best offenses in the country last year and can replicate the same with Bowman fully healthy. Tate, who also dealt with injuries and a coaching transition, is one of the most electric players in the game and would love to showcase his dual-threat skills on a big stage.
4. Sam Ehlinger (Texas) vs. Joe Burrow (LSU) — Sept. 7
LSU's trip to Austin in Week 2 could be one of the non-conference games of the year and will go a long ways into telling us whether the Longhorns or Tigers are truly ready to step into the CFP contender arena. Burrow threw just five picks last year as he showcased his moxie in helping jumpstart the LSU offense and should be even better in a more wide-open attack in 2019. Ehlinger has come up big in the biggest games so far in his career and will need to do so again at home.
5. Brock Purdy (Iowa State) vs. Nate Stanley (Iowa) — Sep. 14
Whoever takes home the Cy-Hawk in 2019 will have truly earned it on the field as both bitter in-state rivals will sport a top 25 team this season. A lot of that preseason hype has to do with the respective signal-callers on each side and the way they finished the final few games last year. Stanley has NFL size and the arm to match while Purdy, who didn’t play in last year’s contest, is hoping to be the one who can break his team’s recent skid against Iowa.
6. Charlie Brewer (Baylor) vs. Sam Ehlinger (Texas)— Nov. 23
Brewer has been a big part of the Bears' turnaround on the field under Matt Rhule and there’s nothing the junior would love more than to grab a win against UT (where several of his family members). Making this matchup even more interesting is the fact that the two have been going at it well before they got to college as local rivals at Austin powerhouse high school programs.
7. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) vs. Austin Kendall (West Virginia) — Oct. 19
Hurts was this offseason’s biggest graduate transfer catch for the Sooners and he’s no doubt looking to make it three in a row when it comes to OU winning the Heisman. But his landing in Norman is a good reason why Kendall, a former top recruit who backed up both Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, is now in Morgantown. He’ll no doubt be looking to show what could have been when the Mountaineers make their visit to his former home in late October.
8. Alan Bowman (Texas Tech) vs. Sam Ehlinger (Texas) — Nov. 29
While part of America will be grabbing a bite to eat after scoring some big Black Friday deals, these two native Texans should have no issue squaring off for a fun late-season tilt in Austin. Both are prolific signal-callers who have put up huge numbers in the past but there's a slight contrast in styles while still making big plays that could turn this into quite the shootout between QBs.
9. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) vs. Brock Purdy (Iowa State) — Nov. 9
The Cyclones have managed to play the Sooners fairly close since Matt Campbell arrived in Ames and this year’s meeting is all the more unique given the matchup of accomplished signal-callers who were nowhere near the field when the two schools got together last September. Both are extremely accurate, don’t turn over the ball much and can extend plays with their legs — making this a fascinating game between conference contenders late in the year.
10. Alex Delton (TCU) at Skylar Thompson (Kansas State) — Oct. 19
This is another potential revenge game on both sides as Delton returns to the Little Apple to face the team he was once the starter of. While he split time with Thompson, his ability to make you pay on the ground does add another dimension to his game. One has to figure things might be a little awkward at first when kickoff comes but you can bet both sides want to pull out a win extra bad.
Best of the rest:
Charlie Brewer (Baylor) vs. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) — Nov. 16
Charlie Brewer (Baylor) vs. Alan Bowman (Texas Tech) — Oct. 12
Austin Kendall (West Virginia) at Kelly Bryant (Missouri) — Sep. 7
Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) at Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA) — Sep. 14
Alan Bowman (Texas Tech) vs. Brock Purdy (Iowa State) — Oct. 19
Austin Kendall (West Virginia) vs. Sam Ehlinger (Texas) — Oct. 5
Alan Bowman (Texas Tech) vs. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) — Sep. 28
Alex Delton (TCU) at Tommy Stevens (Mississippi State) — Sep. 14
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.