The Big 12 football brand has mostly been roughed up in recent years.
Yes, TCU made a mark by beating Michigan in the College Football Playoffs. But then Georgia stomped the Horned Frogs. Oklahoma is 0-4 in CFP play. And now the Sooners and Texas Longhorns are leaving the league.
In the NFL draft, the Big 12 had 25 players taken in 2022, which was tied for third best (SEC had 65 and Big Ten 48), but in the five drafts prior, the league was fifth, averaging just 10.3.
Yet a nice gift was placed at the Big 12’s doorstep recently.
Five of the 14 NFL playoff teams had former Big 12 quarterbacks at the helm, including ex-WVU standout Geno Smith.
Now, three of the four quarterbacks left in the playoffs are from the league.
I don’t know if it means the Big 12 develops the best QBs, but, hey, if nothing else, it’s fun for those that follow the conference.
Those left in the NFL playoffs? Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) and San Francisco’s Brock Purdy (Iowa State). (The other in the field was Miami’s Skylar Thompson of Kansas State.)
I was intrigued. While a former sports columnist and writer, I covered WVU and Big 12 games. I remember covering some of those guys. But exactly how did the Mountaineers fare against them?
I took a look.
Of course, the star of NFL stars is Mahomes. In case you didn’t know, he played both baseball and football at Texas Tech before shedding baseball after his sophomore year. In his junior year, he led all NCAA Division I FBS players in a ton of categories, including passing yards (5,052) and total TDs (53). The Chiefs got a steal by taking him 10th overall in 2017.
He just wasn’t able to beat WVU.
Mahomes didn’t play (he sat behind Davis Webb) in 2014, but took on the Mountaineers in 2015, when he completed 21-of-34 passes for 196 yards – his lowest total of the season. WVU won in Morgantown 31-26.
In 2016, Mahomes completed 28-of-44 passes against West Virginia for 305 yards, but the Mountaineers won by a whopping 48-17. Mahomes was outdueled that day by Skyler Howard, who had 318 passing yards.
Since he’s a five-time Pro Bowl quarterback who has won a Super Bowl (as MVP) and the NFL MVP award, he’s probably over it, but these days Mountaineer fans take what they can, yes?
Regarding Hurts, who had an incredible year for the Eagles, WVU only saw him once – which was plenty. While at Oklahoma, the Heisman Trophy runner-up (to Joe Burrow) wrecked the Mountaineers with a 16-of-17 passing day for 316 yards, three TDs and 75 rushing yards. The Sooners won 52-14 that 2019 day.
Which brings us to San Francisco’s Purdy, who is the only player – quarterback or not – whose story is better than that of Geno Smith. He was the last player taken in the 2022 NFL Draft – landing the title of Mr. Irrelevant – out of Iowa State yet stepped in when Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were hurt and completely dominated.
WVU’s program probably isn’t surprised, though. And it certainly saw Purdy as anything but Mr. Irrelevant.
2018 – Going against Will Grier and David Sills, etc., Purdy led ISU to a 30-14 win in Ames. He completed 18-of-25 passes for 254 yards, three TDs and one pick.
2019 – Going against the WVU flash that was QB Jack Allison, Purdy led the Cyclones to a 38-14 thumping of the Mountaineers in Morgantown. He went 19 of 30 for 229 yards with a TD and an interception. (He also had current New York Jets running back Breece Hall, who had 132 rushing yards.)
2020 – In the Jarrett Doege WVU era, Purdy again had success. ISU crushed the Mountaineers 42-6 in Ames with Purdy completing 20-of-23 passes for 247 yards and three TDs. (Hall had 97 rushing yards.)
2021 – Finally, WVU got the best of Purdy, winning 38-31. Leddie Brown had 109 yards rushing that day, while Purdy went 16 of 27 for 185 yards and one TD.
Overall, the three NFL QBs still alive for a title completed 138 passes on 200 pass attempts (69 percent) for 1732 yards in seven games (247.4-yard average). WVU went 3-4 against them.
And, OK, just for funsies, let’s look at former K-State QB Thompson, who took over the Dolphins job with Tua Tagovailoa suffering a concussion.
A seventh-round draft pick, here were his stats against WVU:
2017 – 13 of 26 for 159 passing yards in a 28-23 WVU win in Manhattan. Grier was WVU’s QB.
2018 – 11 of 17 for 145 yards in a 35-6 WVU win in Morgantown. Again, Grier.
2019 – 24 of 39 for 299 yards in a 24-20 WVU win in Manhattan. Doege was WVU’s QB.
2020 – Did not play.
2021 – 14 of 19 for 138 yards with a TD in a K-State 34-17 win in Manhattan. Deuce Vaughn had 121 yards rushing for the Wildcats.
In total, he went 62 of 101 (61.4 percent) for 741 yards (185.25 average).
All the 2023 NFL playoff ex-Big 12 QBs mixed together?
Through the years, they completed exactly 200 of 301 passes (66.4 percent) for 2,473 yards against West Virginia. That’s an average of 206 yards per game.
WVU went 6-5 against all, including Thompson.
What does it all mean?
Not a daggone thing.
But it was fun to take a break from the negativity and reminisce for a few, eh?
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.