The impetus behind NCAA Football '14, the last of EA Sports' focused efforts on the current generation console before the focus moves towards the XBOX One and PlayStation 4, was on improving the realism of the game as a whole. Option offenses (and reading the defense when executing them) have never been better. The overall means of running the ball have been improved with bettered (though still not perfect) run blocking physics.
The game as a whole feels better than it ever has, and while certain aspects still need some love (Road to Glory career mode has been left for dead and as alluded to earlier, down the field blocking sometimes can and will drive you insane), this is probably EA Sports' strongest effort on the XBOX360/PS3 generation of gaming consoles to date.
But what about the rosters? This is basically something that gets asked about every single year. "Who's rated what?", "Who's overrated?", "Who's underrated?", and "Who had no business being included on this team since they transferred in the first place?" tend to monopolize these sorts of conversations.
While it's worth keeping in mind that EA Sports has some hard deadlines that sometimes the fluid nature of college football roster management can leave a few players stuck on teams they won't be playing for this coming fall, they tend to do a pretty solid job overall given that they're tasked with the herculean chore of keeping up with 126 teams every single year (something that some even criticize Phil Steel for not doing a better job of).
Accordingly, here are this year's default rosters in their entirety. There's some obvious short comings (a lot of the newcomers' roster numbers are complete guesswork, for example) and a few of the guys included have since moved on.
Left Defensive Ends
Right Defensive Ends
Left Outside Linebackers
Right Outside Linebackers
A few quick observations:
- Each team having to have a fullback is a complete limiter, particularly for offenses like Ohio State which don't actually use them in reality. The result is Rod Smith with the position adjusted ratings looking insanely underrated (moving him back to running back produces a more realistic overall rating; keep in mind they're scaled per position). Hopefully they do away with this in future versions of the game.
- Although not listed here, the uniform numbers are a mess for a number of guys, but also as hinted at above, EA Sports has deadlines and do the best they can with what they have. The good news is you can fix elements like incorrect numbers and the completely randomized hometowns in which only the state are right without too terribly much hassle (or at least download rosters from the pros like those at Operation Sports pretty easily).
- As we've addressed before, Philly Brown should probably be the highest rated receiver, and though the overall ratings are scaled by position, it's still rather annoying that Christian Bryant is higher overall than Bradley Roby.
- No Tracy Sprinkle, Michael Hill, Tim Gardner, Gareon Conley, Donovan Munger, Christopher Worley, or Corey Smith is frustrating, but EA caps their rosters at 70 for reasons unknown.
For good measure, let's take one last look at Ohio State's top players overall in this year's game:
Now it's your turn to keep the critique of realism going. Do these rosters measure up (factoring in the positional weighted overall ratings, at least) or are there still improvements needed? Is there any particular feature of these years game that could compell you to buy it? Or are you holding out for next year when things go next gen?