Keeping it Real With the EA NCAA 14 Gopher Roster

NCAA 14 is coming soon! - Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

So EA Sports is set to release NCAA 14 next week and the theme for this year's release is "Keeping it Real." This idea of "Keeping it Real" is in play because of the major redesign effort to increase the realism of the game. You can watch a promo video here where they talk a little about how they redesigned the running game to increase the realism of cut-backs and accelerating through holes, all appear to be positive improvements to the game (which I buy ever year and love the online dynasty feature).

Reviews on the new gameplay and the new presentation elements appear to be positive. If EA can make some improvements to the game and it doesn't appear to be sacrificing any of the remaining outstanding elements, then this appears to be a great version coming up.

I am excited for the game's release and I hope my children will eventually forgive me for ignoring them for countless hours of online dynasty. But I have kind of a problem with this year's ratings. You see I love playing the online dynasty and my favorite team usually puts me at a sizeable disadvantage for a few recruiting cycles (I can really relate to Jerry sometimes). The Gophers are typically not a strong program and I expect low ratings, but this year is off. Let me show you what I mean.

The good news is that we are one of only 2 Big Ten teams that saw their overall rating increase from NCAA 13 to NCAA 14. We improved by 3 points, Indiana improved by 4. But my problem here is that the Gophers still rank last overall, last in offense and tied for last in defense. Don't get me wrong, I fully realize that the Gophers are not a Legend's Division contender. I understand that the talent level on this team is not at the same level as Ohio State. I am aware that we only had a 2-6 Big Ten record in 2012. But this is also a program coming off a bowl game, one that is returning quite a few starters and is at least approaching mediocrity. But we are coming into NCAA 14 as the worst team in the Big Ten, in all categories. Once again I will need 2 or 3 recruiting cycles and redshirting everyone in year 1 to give myself a shot in year 2.

My case for higher Gopher ratings starts here...Illinois was 0-8, Indiana and Iowa were both also 2-6 (with overall losing records), in fact every BCS conference team we beat last year all have higher ratings in NCAA 14 than the Gophers (Syracuse, Purdue, Illinois). In fact every team in the 6 main BCS conferences is rated higher than the Gophers (except Pitt).

NCAA 14
Ovr Off Def
Minnesota 79 79 80
Iowa 88 88 90
Nebraska 88 91 85
Michigan 91 91 92
Michigan State 91 90 93
Northwestern 86 86 87
Wisconsin 88 88 88
Illinois 83 86 80
Indiana 81 83 82
Purdue 84 84 85
Penn State 84 86 85
Ohio State 95 97 92

Not only were we a bowl team last year but we were statistically better than several other Big Ten teams while returning the 2nd most starters within the conference.

A very simple comparison between Iowa and Minnesota offensively in 2912.

Pts/Game Yards Returning Off Starters
Minnesota (79) 22.1 321.4 10
Iowa (88) 19.3 310.4 7

So you are telling me that the Gophers scored more points, accumulated more yards, are returning more starters on offense AND they are 9 points behind the Hawkeyes based on EA's offensive ratings? That is kind of offensive! Indiana probably has more reason to be upset as they finished 4th in scoring offense, 2nd in yards and their offensive ranking is only slightly better than Minnesota's.

Defensively isn't any better, Minnesota's 80 rating isn't as insulting but in comparison and when you factor in how they actually performed in 2012 it is still off the mark. The Gophers finished 5th in total defense, 8th in points allowed. In both statistical categories we were well ahead of Nebraska who had a terrible defense. Sure they have more 4-star players on their 2-deep, but that defense was bad. And they return just 4 starters! So why is their defense receiving a rating 5 points higher than Minnesota's? It gets worse. Indiana was last in yards allowed, last in points allowed and is rated higher than the Gophers.

I did state that we and Indiana are the only teams who actually increase their overall rating from NCAA 13, I guess I had a bigger hill to climb last year. But the overall rating is still not indicative of where the Gopher program currently sits. How about these other BCS conference teams in comparison to the Gophers, who were a bowl team last year!

OVR Rating 2012 record Returning Starters
Minnesota 79 6-7 16
Auburn 88 3-9 15
Boston College 86 2-10 14
Cal 84 3-9 9
Colorado 79 1-11 17
Kansas 81 1-11 11
Kentucky 84 2-10 6
South Florida 84 3-9 10
Temple 81 4-7 15
Washington State 81 3-9 15

Temple is rated higher than the Gophers; TEMPLE! In fact the only BCS conference level team that is ranked below Minnesota is Pitt (77, SUCKERS!). Do I think we are better than Auburn? No. But are we worse than South Florida, Temple or Kansas? I don't think so.

Now I'm calming down and I will point out what everyone is probably thinking. "Calm down. Posts on video game ratings are the most trivial thing you could possibly choose to write about." And I completely agree, this is the most trivial thing we could be discussing on July 2nd. What is most important is that NCAA 14 ratings may not necessarily be indicative of actual team performance. This is a case of me looking at how the Gopher ratings compared to the rest of the Big Ten when I started noticing that we were being rated as very nearly the worst team within the 6 main BCS conferences (excluding the Mountain West).

Rant finished. I only care because I care. I only want a higher rating, not for prestige within the world of college football fans, but so I can compete in my online dynasty faster. As I said earlier...redshirt everyone, don't worry about a terrible record in year 1, you should be much better in year 2. Ultimately I am excited for NCAA 14 (and really excited for the possibilities next year with XBox One). Bring it on!

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