For legal reasons EA Sports had to stop making it’s NCAA Football Video Game Franchise. (Originally Bill Walsh Football) That was a sad day for A-Train. The NCAA Football Franchise was my rock. It’s release day was bigger than Christmas, and it was no more. Sure there was Madden, but when it comes to video game football my motto is “Give me College or give me Death!”
The Game had a dynasty mode, and when you played dynasty one of the goals was always to win the Heisman Trophy. It was almost as important to the college gamer as winning a national title. The problem is that winning the Heisman Trophy could be difficult, especially if you’re playing on “Heisman” difficulty. The computer’s AI players would put up absurd numbers. There was always a QB from Texas Tech putting up over 5000 yards and 50 TDs. If you played your dynasty deep, where you were going 10+ years into the game with your coach, teams like Rice and North Texas would inexplicably become powerhouses. They would have Running backs routinely going over 2000 yards. Somehow in the simulation nobody ever got hurt.
(No matter how tempting you cannot turn off injuries in NCAA football, it will cost you a man card)
Playing on Heisman difficulty your guys got hurt all the time, usually it wasn’t serious but sometimes it was. The injury bug bit most when you over work a star player. Believe me there is nobody you have to over work more than a serious Heisman contender. Especially if that player is a running back.
This is where me and my fellow “Dubs” heads had to get creative. You gotta play that guy everywhere, you have to put him in the slot. You have to run wheel routes from the backfield. He’s gotta return punts and kicks. You screen him from both the backfield and out wide. He takes direct snaps at QB. He throws HB passes.* You make him do everything.
*The video game HB Pass is difficult to pull off because the HB never has the arm strength or accuracy to make a good enough pass.
Coaches in real life rarely take this approach. Rarely do they have a player on the level with Saquon Barkley. When I watch Penn State I feel like James Franklin is channeling my old video game coaches. He’s got him doing everything and it’s having the same effect on the Heisman race.
The later editions of the game made moving the RB around extremely easy by implementing sub packages within the formation. The old editions of the game you had to continuously adjust your depth chart.
Harbaugh did his best with Jabril Peppers, trying to make him Charles Woodson 2.0, but Peppers isn’t Woodson and defensive players just don’t get the touches. Saquon Barkley is gonna get enough touches and enough exposure to win the Heisman going away in true “Dubs” fashion.
It is truly sad that NCAA Football is no more because I have a serious feeling that next years edition would feature Saquon Barkley on the cover.