From left: CFP QBs Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Justin Fields (Ohio State), Joe Burrow (LSU) and Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma). USA TODAY Sports: Jim Dedmon | Tim Fuller | Jason Getz | Matthew Emmons

Fabulous foursome: College Football Playoff QBs are best set ever

For all the talk of dominant defenses and rushing attacks, Saturday’s College Football Playoff matchups are truly all about the quarterbacks. LSU’s Joe Burrow is pitted against Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts in the Peach Bowl. Ohio State’s Justin Fields draws Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence in the Fiesta Bowl.

There’s not a dud among them.

A Heisman winner (Burrow) and a two-time championship game starting quarterback (Hurts))? A stud with 40 touchdowns and one pick (Fields) and last year’s national champion (Lawrence)?

Compared to the collective quarterback classes in the CFP’s brief five-game history, it’s really not even close.

Here are 16 sweet facts about the finest final four in CFP history:

 
1 of 16

A title at the top

A title at the top
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is vying to become the first starting quarterback to win back-to-back titles in CFP history. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa fell short last season. If he pulls it off, Lawrence would be the first back-to-back championship starting quarterback since Alabama’s A.J. McCarron in 2011-12 and just the second of the modern era.

 
2 of 16

Transfer of power

Transfer of power
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time, three of the four CFP quarterbacks are transfers, with only Clemson sophomore Lawrence staying loyal to his original school. LSU's Burrow (via Ohio State), OSU's Fields (via Georgia, in photo) and OU's Hurts (Alabama) all took their talents elsewhere in search of better opportunity.

 
3 of 16

Burrow a lock for No. 1?

Burrow a lock for No. 1?
Joe Burrow under pressure from Chase Young, another potential high pick in the 2020 draft, during Ohio State's 2018 spring game. Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Burrow may have headed south to the Bayou to find himself a starting gig, but his heart remains in the Buckeye State, where he led Athens High in The Plains, Ohio, to a 14-1 record his senior year. He finished his high school career with 11,416 yards and 184 total passing and rushing TDs. Burrow’s numbers weren’t quite as lofty during his first few years of college football, as he was first buried in the depth chart at Ohio State and then slowly adapted to SEC play. But he exploded this season, passing for 4,715 yards and 48 TDs. Burrow’s huge season vaulted him to the top of NFL mock drafts, where he is projected to be taken by his home-state Cincinnati Bengals.

 
4 of 16

Three potential first-round picks?

Three potential first-round picks?
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Burrow isn’t the only one looking at a bright future. With fellow Oklahoma products Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray going No. 1 in back-to-back years, and with dual-threat Lamar Jackson burning up the NFL, Hurts might climb draft boards. He won't be picked in the first round, where Lawrence and Fields are projected to go in the 2021 NFL Draft. That could be a quarterback bonanza.

 
5 of 16

Fields' eagle-eye sets him apart

Fields' eagle-eye sets him apart
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Of the four future first-rounders, Fields might be set up for the best pro career. The top-rated dual-threat QB recruit in the class of 2018, Fields has taken his passing to another level in 2019. The laser-like Buckeye has a remarkable 40-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His passer rating is 190.3. (For comparison, the  passer rating for the current 50th-ranked college football QB is 143.20.)

 
6 of 16

Burrow’s passer rating reigns supreme

Burrow’s passer rating reigns supreme
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Think Fields’ 190.3 passer rating is impressive? Burrow is on pace to break the NCAA FBS record for passer rating in a season as he enters the playoffs with a 201.5 rating. The record hasn't stood long, as it was set just last season by Alabama'a Tua Tagovailoa (199.4). Tua broke the mark of Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (198.9) set the season before. 

 
7 of 16

Hurts so good

Hurts so good
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Burrow isn’t the only one of the four quarterbacks who might top a 200 rating. Connecting on nearly 72 percent of his passes for 3,634 yards and 32 touchdowns with just seven picks, Hurts boasts a passer rating of 200.3. If Burrow tanks in the playoffs and Hurts thrives, he might finish the season with a higher rating.

 
8 of 16

Historically stingy final four

Historically stingy final four
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Compared to the five other final foursome QBs, this group’s combined touchdown and interception figures are another planet. In 2014, a group headlined by Jameis Winston (Florida State) and Marcus Mariota (Oregon) and including Alabama’s Blake Simms and Ohio State’s Cardale Jones entered the CFP with a combined 102 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. The foursome of Burrow, Fields, Lawrence and Hurts? A  combined 154 TD passes and 22 interceptions.

 
9 of 16

Hurts grinds them up

Hurts grinds them up
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

All four are fantastic through the air, but while Burrow (289 yards) and Lawrence (407) are just pedestrian on the ground and Fields (471) is effective, Hurts is scintillating. His 1,255 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns both rank among the country's best -- for running backs.

 
10 of 16

Fields can be a force on ground, too

Fields can be a force on ground, too
USA TODAY Sports

To be fair, Fields hasn't been a slouch on the ground. Some games he just hasn't run much. Others, though? Twelve rushes for 61 yards and a score against Florida Atlantic, 12 for 72 and a touchdown against Nebraska, 11 for 61 and a score against Michigan State, 21 for 68 against Penn State. He can move.

 
11 of 16

Extraordinary Joe

Extraordinary Joe
Joe Burrow visits with Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason after scorching his team for six TD passes. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

While Burrow has been a bit more stationary this season, rushing for 289 yards on 89 carries for a mediocre 3.0 average, he has been hyper-productive through the air. His 48 passing downs this season are tied for the eighth-highest mark in college football history. He has one game with six touchdown passes (vs. Vanderbilt) and three more with five TDs each (vs. Mississippi, Utah State and Georgia Southern).

 
12 of 16

Fields' signature win

Fields' signature win
USA TODAY Sports

Clemson's competition was down this season, so Lawrence lacked a signature win. Hurts took it to Texas (235 yards passing, 131 running) in a 34-27 victory. Fields plastered Michigan for 302 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-27 rout. But the best regular-season win belongs to Burrow, who buried 'Bama with a 31-for-39, 393-yard, three-touchdown performance in a 46-41 win in Tuscaloosa. The victory broke LSU's eight-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide.



 
13 of 16

Hurts has a field day

Hurts has a field day
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Burrow's performance against Alabama was terrific, especially given the competition. But Hurts was nearly perfect against West Virginia in a 52-14 win on Oct. 19. He completed 16 of 17 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns. His passer rating that day was 308.5.

 
14 of 16

Lawrence rises to occasion

Lawrence rises to occasion
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

While the other three studs were nothing to scoff at in their respective conference championship games, Lawrence was truly at another level in a 62-17 win over Virginia. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns, finishing with a 248.0 passer rating. None of the other semifinalists topped 200 in their games.

 
15 of 16

The 50-50-50 club

The 50-50-50 club
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Three of the four quarterbacks in the group have topped 50 total touchdowns for the season, with Burrow passing for 48 and rushing for three, Fields passing for 40 and rushing for 10 and Hurts passing for 32, rushing for 18 and even catching a TD pass. Only Lawrence, with a ho-hum 41 touchdowns this season, hasn’t eclipsed the half-century mark.

 
16 of 16

The ultimate winner

The ultimate winner
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

What Lawrence has lacked in superlative statistics this season, he has made up for in one incredible number. And that number means more than all the others: Lawrence enters the Fiesta Bowl matchup 24-0 as a starting quarterback. Keep up that clip, and he’ll have the best winning percentage in college football history.

Jon Gold is an award-winning features writer and columnist with more than a decade of full-time beat, features and columnist experience. He has hosted television and radio shows, podcasts and YouTube videos.


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