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College Football: Evaluating where Super Bowl quarterbacks played in college

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Four quarterbacks still have a shot at a Super Bowl title this year. Let’s look at where Super Bowl quarterbacks played their college football.

With the 2017 college football season now in the rearview mirror, the long slog of the offseason has commenced. Gridiron fans can still get their fix by turning their attention to the professional game. Right now the NFL is winding its way through the playoffs toward the Super Bowl. As of this moment, four players have the chance to take their respective franchises to the big game.

Only one of the quartet has done it before. Tom Brady has been to the championship game on seven occasions, all with the New England Patriots. Five of his seven starts in the Super Bowl have resulted in Lombardi Trophies. As a two-year starter for Michigan, Brady put up decent if hardly earth-shattering numbers. Now he has become the most prolific quarterback in football history.

On an interesting note, Brady is the only Michigan quarterback ever to reach the Super Bowl. While the Wolverines have been among the most successful teams in college football history, their passers have largely failed to find success at the next level.

And then there are the neophytes to this stage.

The other three players in the NFC and AFC championship games are all new to this stage. All three represent schools that have never before sent a former starting quarterback to the Super Bowl.

Nick Foles is the Pac-12 guy of the trio, suiting up in relief for the injured Carson Wentz. Instead of a former FCS national champion in Wentz, we get an Arizona alumnus who has come full circle. Foles was a star in his second pro season, leading the NFL in passer rating, yards per attempt, and touchdown percentage in 2013. Foles started his career in Philadelphia as a revelation, was cast aside, but now returns to guide the Eagles as a journeyman

Blake Bortles is the high draft pick who is finally making good on his promise. Bortles was the last great UCF quarterback to lead the Knights to a major bowl game before the Knights went undefeated this year. The starter for the last Big East champions, Bortles won the Fiesta Bowl before becoming the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has shown glimpses of greatness in Jacksonville and now looks to make the next leap.

Then there is Case Keenum, the prolific Houston Cougars quarterback who has knocked around the NFL before landing with Minnesota. The Vikings starter landed his position after Teddy Bridgewater went down with a terrible knee injury. Thanks to a ferocious defense and help from his offensive teammates, Keenum has Minnesota one game away from its first Super Bowl in decades.

How do these players compare to former Super Bowl quarterbacks?

This year’s final four features two passers who starred at what we used to call non-AQ schools back in the BCS days. Keenum and Bortles are both products of mid-major programs, as both played the majority of their time in Conference USA. (Bortles technically got to spend one year at a major program when UCF moved up to the Big East in his senior season.)

The other two starting quarterbacks took what might be assumed to be the more traditional route to pro glory. But Arizona has never seen one of its quarterbacks reach a position to play for the Lombardi Trophy. Even historic powerhouses like Michigan have had limited success. After all, without Brady’s seven Super Bowl appearances the Wolverines never would have seen one of their former quarterbacks start in the NFL championship game.

This week in Sunday Morning Quarterback, let’s look at the previous quarterbacks who played in the Super Bowl. How have mid-majors and lower-division stars fared in the biggest game of the pro football calendar? Which schools have put the most star quarterbacks into position for an NFL title? Keep reading for a look at Super Bowl quarterbacks by school, conference, and NCAA division.

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