"Keeping It Real" With EA Sports NCAA 14

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

EA Sports releases NCAA '14 on July 9th. They've made some heavy design changes for this season, including a hugely improved running game. Nebraska is highly rated on offense (91), but fairly mediocre on defense (85). Do you expect these rating to mirror real life this year, or should Nebraska be greatly improved on defense?

EA Sports NCAA Football '14 will be released on July 9th and Corn Nation is participating in a campaign with the theme of "Keeping It Real" so that you know more about the latest incarnation of the game.

I would call myself a fairly heavy gamer. I received a xBox for Christmas a few years ago, specifically so I could play Call of Duty because there are simply some days you want to come home and do nothing but kill fake people and blow things up.

I've purchased EA Sports NCAA Football off and on over the years, and I've played NCAA '13 pretty extensively. I particularly enjoy playing the "Road to Glory" section where you pretend you're a high school star athlete who makes it to his favorite college program and then set every record on the planet because you're a four-year starter. WOOHOOOO!!!

I've played dynasty a lot with Nebraska's playbook, but I typically do not play as Nebraska. In my most recent dynasty I coached Toledo to a national title (HAHAHAHA How's That For Keeping It Real!), but then must have answered the contract question wrong and now I'm the head coach of Penn State.

The 2014 version touts its biggest improvement as the release of the "INFINITY PHYSICS ENGINE 2" this year. Apparently the first release of the physics engine was included in Madden last year, but I don't play Madden because I don't care all that much about the NFL, and gee, I can't imagine offense in the NFL being anything but boring by comparison.

I played the NCAA 14 demo, and the running game appears to be much improved. Ball carriers act more like real ball carriers - unless your team really has a guy who runs into the back of his linemen and churns his legs without moving. There's a new "FORCE IMPACT" thingie were you can run over other players or stiff arm them with more force because IMPACT. There's even a STUMBLE RECOVERY, which has nothing to do with alcohol.

Perhaps the most exciting thing (I'm sure everyone has their favorite) about the latest version is the addition of all the option plays. Even though I have the reaction time of a sloth, the idea that you have an entire playbook of nothing but spread option plays is pretty cool. THERE ARE 31 TYPES OF OPTION PLAYS AND I DARE ANY OF YOU TO NAME AS MANY AS POSSIBLE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION AND YOU WON'T GET TO 31 UNLESS YOU CHEAT AND LOOK THEM UP.

A minor detail; up-tempo teams can no longer call plays when those plays don't match personnel that are already on the field. Think about that - you can't be running a heavy set formation, not substitute then magically switch to a five-wide set in real life, so you can no longer do that in a video game.

I have typically played NCAA Football at varsity level because our xbox controllers until recently have been all messed up (they stick a lot even after being cleaned) and...

I might well admit that I'm not that good and sometimes it just feels really good to beat the snot out of Iowa or Texas or Ohio State. I am guessing most of you do the same, although I'm sure we'll get a comment or two from guys who play at Heisman or Super Ninja levels, and they'll have that attitude much like the teenagers who look at my xbox and say things like "your kill ratio isn't very good" while sneering in that teenager way they do. My typical response to that is "go get a job and start paying taxes and we'll see what happens to your kill ratio you expletive deleted" and then throw something hard at their head.

Big Ten Team Ratings

Team ratings for all 126 teams were released recently, and below is a look at the Big Ten, by overall rating, offense rating, and defense rating. Let's take a look at how these compare to reality.

By Overall Rank

Team Overall Offense Defense
Ohio State 95 97 92
Michigan 91 91 92
Michigan State 91 90 93
Iowa 88 88 90
Nebraska 88 91 85
Wisconsin 88 88 88
Northwestern 86 86 87
Penn State 84 86 85
Purdue 84 84 85
Illinois 83 86 80
Indiana 81 83 82
Minnesota 79 79 80

Uh, Iowa? We haven't seen the game yet, so perhaps Iowa has running backs that aren't pre-injured and are very good. Or perhaps the NCAA 14 designers felt sorry for Iowa because of Kirk Ferentz contract. It sure as hell isn't because Iowa is returning a starter at quarterback.

Indiana returns the most starters of anyone - 10 on offense, nine on defense. That's tied for most returning starters in the nation. Minnesota returns 10 on offense, six on defense. Yet both teams are at the bottom of the conference, probably because NO ONE IN THOSE STATES LIKES COLLEGE FOOTBALL ANYWAY SO THE HELL WITH THEM.

By Offense

Team Overall Offense Defense
Ohio State 95 97 92
Michigan 91 91 92
Nebraska 88 91 85
Michigan State 91 90 93
Iowa 88 88 90
Wisconsin 88 88 88
Northwestern 86 86 87
Penn State 84 86 85
Illinois 83 86 80
Purdue 84 84 85
Indiana 81 83 82
Minnesota 79 79 80

I understand why Ohio State is ranked so high on offense, i.e. Braxton Miller. Michigan, however, I don't understand. Taylor Lewan is one helluva tackle, and while Devin Gardner looks talented, he's going to be running Al Borges real offense and he's going to be doing it with only six returning starters.

Michigan State offense at 90. They return eight starters, including starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell (who may or may not start this season although he's #1 for now). HOW DOES MICHIGAN STATE SCORE THIS YEAR - that's what I want to know.

By Defense

Team Overall Offense Defense
Michigan State 91 90 93
Ohio State 95 97 92
Michigan 91 91 92
Iowa 88 88 90
Wisconsin 88 88 88
Northwestern 86 86 87
Nebraska 88 91 85
Penn State 84 86 85
Purdue 84 84 85
Indiana 81 83 82
Illinois 83 86 80
Minnesota 79 79 80

Your first inclination might be to say - "Nebraska only returns four starters on defense and that's why we're at an 85", but the same is true for Ohio State.

"They're Ohio State and therefore... " should be the only explanation you need. (We really need to find a "Roll Tide" comparable comment for Ohio State now that sonofabitch Urban Meyer is in the conference.)

Northwestern and Wisconsin both return more starters on defense. This is where I should remind you that "AWARENESS" is a big factor in determining a player's ranking and it increases with each year.

You know what really bugs me about the 85 rating on defense? There's nothing to achieve. There's no expectations. According to this game, Nebraska's defense should finish in the lower half of the conference..... right where we finished in total defense last season. CRAP.

I have been going back and forth about whether or not I'll be getting this year's game. I recently purchased a new controller, one that doesn't stick, so I'm ready for the new game play. Unfortunately last night my xbox died. Now I'm not sure what to do! Buy a new one? Fix the old one? We're only a week away from NCAA 14 release!

Corn Nation and EA Sports invite you to "keep it real" with us in the comments. At least one commenter will be invited to join Corn Nation in another post about the video game series. I have no idea what that means yet, but maybe it will be really exciting, like a trip to a bowl game. Or a free copy of the NCAA 14 game!

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