It's an annual tradition for college football fans all across this great country of ours - you gotta get EA's NCAA Football XX to help tide you over until the football season arrives.
Every single year, it's the same process over and over again. It's the last fix you really need before powering forward through the remainder of the summer and on to the start of college football.
If you're like me, one of the first things you do is check out how good Utah football rates in this game. Recently, EA has been pretty favorable to the Utes - giving them impressive initial ratings that generally mean, if you simulate the season, good things typically happen.
This year, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone after how last season ended, Utah's overall ratings took a hit - but they're still fairly respectable. That surprised me because this team is one of the most uncertain in the Pac-12 and yet, based on their overall rating (86), they're fifth (tied with Arizona) in the entire conference - ahead of Arizona State, Oregon State, California, Washington State and Colorado. Now, if Utah finishes third in the South, or at least tied for third with Arizona, I think we'd all happily concede the 2013 season a success. If this team really is just behind USC and UCLA in their division - and really, the fifth best team in the Pac-12 - good things are likely to happen.
But like I said, Utah has been given quite the benefit of the doubt in this game recently. Last year, EA rated 'em a 95, which obviously the team failed to live up to and maybe explains why they bumped 'em down a bit - and yet, they're still better than every team on their schedule except for Oregon, Stanford, USC and UCLA - with the Wildcats, again, producing the same overall rating as Utah. If we lived in EA's reality, the Utes very well could be looking at an 8-4 season ... if not something substantially better with a few breaks here and there.
So, has EA misjudged Utah again? Or are they on to something? Does it really matter? Probably not. After all, one is just a game and the other is real life. We all know there are far too many questions on the Utes' end to get a feel, at least a concrete feel, of what Utah can and cannot do this season.
Utah's strength is their defense, as they rate an 87, and their offense is rated an 84. Do you think those numbers sound about right? I don't think it's that hard to admit the Utes' defense might be better overall than their offense after what has happened the last two years - but that does not mean it's better than BYU - whose defense ranks a rather average (for this game, anyway) 83.
So that's good news. If the Utes stink it up again this season, at least they'll be respectable in the game and you can win as much as you want there.
Hopefully Utah out-produces their video game counterpart and we're not left playing our console for the thrill of victory this fall.
Do you think EA is keeping it real with Utah's rankings? Let me know.