Week 13 of the college football season is in the books, signaling the end of the regular season for the Pac-12. On Friday night, North Division champion Washington will take on Colorado, who went from last to first in the South Division. It was a quite a ride this season for the conference, as one school could still make it to the College Football Playoff.
Lets take a look at our final Pac-12 Power Rankings.Arizona State Sun Devils Last week: L, 56-35 at Arizona
The end of the season could not have come soon enough for the Arizona State Sun Devils, who lost their final six games after starting the season 5-1. With their loss to Arizona this past weekend, the Sun Devils saw their once promising season end without a bowl game, which is incredible when you take into account how good they looked early on. In their regular season finale, Arizona State lost to the Arizona Wildcats by the score of 56-35, as their defense had no answer for the Wildcats running game.
The Wildcats came into the rivalry game winless in Pac-12 play, but relied on a steady dose of Samajie Grant to pick up the win in the Territorial Cup. With the loss, the Sun Devils will finish the year at 5-7, and will miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2010. They do have some nice offensive pieces to rely on heading into next season, but they have to do something about their defense.
Manny Wilkins played well at quarterback once again, and should be a key player in the Pac-12 in 2017. He threw for 372 yards against the Wildcats this past weekend, while adding 79 yards on the ground. His main target on the day was Frederick Gammage, who caught 12 balls for 116 yards and a score. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, they could muster nothing on the ground, while the Wildcats rushed for 511 yards as a team.Arizona Wildcats Last week: W, 56-35 vs Arizona State
Arizona finally picked up a conference win this past weekend, defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Territorial Cup by the score of 56-35. The Wildcats came into the rivalry game without a win in Pac-12 play, but the strength of their running game made sure that they would not end the season that way. Arizona ran for 511 yards as a team in a dominating effort that had people scratching their heads as to why the team played so poorly all season long.
The big issue all season had been the play of their defense, which played some spirited football this past weekend. They were able to stop the Sun Devils running game, forcing the team to throw the ball time and time again. They did allow 35 points to Arizona State in the game, but the Wildcats were in control the entire game, as they set a school-record for rushing yards in a game.
Senior running back Samajie Grant finished his collegiate career with a bang, rushing for 176 yards and three touchdowns. Fellow back Zach Green ran for 126 yards and two scores, while Brandon Dawkins made huge plays with his arm, and his feet. The sophomore signal-caller may have cemented his place as the team’s starter for next year by racking up 261 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. The win just may have saved Rich Rodriguez’s job.UCLA Bruins Last week: L, 36-10 at Cal
The 2016 UCLA Bruins were supposed to do some serious damage in the Pac-12 this season. Armed with one of the better young quarterbacks in the country, UCLA was an early favorite to take the Pac-12 South Division, but that never really panned out. Quarterback Josh Rosen’s season ended early due to an injury, and the team could just not make up for the lack of play making ability with him on the shelf.
Senior Mike Fafaul filled in nicely at times for Rosen, but he just did not have enough talent to lead the team when the running game went AWOL. That was a serious issue for the Bruins, who really struggled to run the ball for most of the season. UCLA closed out their four-win season with a second consecutive loss this past weekend, falling to Cal on the road, 36-10.
Expect a huge turnaround from UCLA next season, as they will have a healthy Rosen back for their opening game. Wide receiver Jordan Lasley should play a huge role in the passing game, though they are going to have to find someone to tote the rock if they want to play for a Pac-12 title in 2017. The only reason they did not finish in the cellar in the South is due to Arizona, as the Bruins lost six of their last seven games to finish the year at 4-8.
It wasn't the first time someone's remarked that a game looked like real life.
With the holiday, I happened to have plenty of multiplayer opponents and family members wandering by, offering their feedback on this year's NCAA Football game. "It looks like TV!" one person said, as swooping title cards pushed the action from one play to the next. They had a disappointed look on their face as I fiddled the right stick back and forth to check my passing routes before a play. I guess that element didn't look like it was on TV, never mind that the camera was behind my player's back.
I'm not really that enthusiastic about simulation sports games, probably because I don't watch the big game on TV every Sunday (how many big games are there anymore?) or because I've never been a particularly athletic person, but NCAA's create-a-player-and-take-him-through-college-life Road to Glory mode feels more like an RPG than a sim at times. You have to make a player (I named mine Fartface), and then take him through an entire year of high school before you can land at a top-tier school. Only Atlus RPGs take that long to get to the meat-and-potatoes you paid for, but NCAA's final outing before the next generation of consoles iterates just enough to stand above last year's game, while maintaining everything that came before.
Consequently, that's the modus operandi for scholastic athletes, right? Grow your precision, strength, and performance capabilities without losing any part of your game (or your studies). Road to Glory makes that apparent, with every week offering a practice or position-battle and a game against other schools, alongside computer-generated analysis and stats. What I'm trying to say is that I wasted no time in starting RTG and ignoring every other mode in NCAA Football 14, despite the well-populated menu screen. I ignored Play Now, Dynasty, Ultimate Team, 2013 Season, and Online modes in favor of my favorite method of virtual football, but that wealth of options represents a ton of pigskin for fans. Obviously, Play Now lets you play right this second, but the rest remain deep, varied experiences.
While as a player I'm more interested in making a dude with a funny name and embarrassing every school in the nation with that on his back, Dynasty presents a more relaxed and stat-oriented game. If you've played the mode before, you'll probably remember thinking, "Holy crap, why is this taking so long?" Thankfully, new adjustments allow for much faster gameplay, including Coach Skills which allow you to focus on key components of captaining a top-tier program. Power Recruiting also takes the boring-sauce out of scouting and signing, but still offers the fine details you might want in making big picks.
Ultimate Team and Online modes return as you'd expect, but the 2013 Season offers a Road to Glory-esque track without the feeling that you're sitting on the couch while sitting on the bench in-game. Pick a team and play the entire 2013 season with them, controlling both offense and defense. It's Play Now for people who want some semblance of progression with their impatience. Certainly with the presentation improvements, I wouldn't blame you for wanting a more cinematic and complete experience.
New camera angles, new half-time pageantry, and a stadium full of in-game color commentary make playing a match more and more like watching a broadcast, although it remains impossible for this simulation sport to avoid repeating its lines. Still, the wide camera angle normally reserved for "All 22" coach's film eliminates the frustration you might feel in having wide receivers off-camera, and dynamic angles give less simulation-minded players a dedicated view on the action. The spit-shine remains less obvious due to the nature of yearly releases, but this is the apex of NCAA Football on current consoles.
Other small but impactful presentation details get pushed aside by the introduction of new physics from the Ignite engine, allowing you to lean on momentum as much as stat-padding. Running the ball, breaking tackles, or reaching for that extra yard all feel incredibly satisfying, and every match looks better for it. No longer do canned animations interrupt a player's forward motion. Fartface saw no openings during one game and broke out of the pocket for a run. At first I thought an errant defensive lineman would stop him, but I leaned forward in my seat and urged my player on until he pushed through the crowd and made the first down. Stumble recovery and impact hitting or trucking might sound like marginal improvements, but stacked against last year's game, it feels way too satisfying to force plays like this.
Ultimately, physics and the Reaction Time mechanic are the only marked changes to my favorite Road to Glory mode, so the improvements there are passable. Defensive and running adjustments also take small steps towards perfection, but in the end, NCAA Football 14 looks and feels as it should. College football allows for all these different angles on the action, so EA Sports has ensured that your choice of simulation is truly up to you.
If you haven't picked up an NCAA game in the past few years, but remain a fan of collegiate football, this is practically a must-buy iteration as it'll feel like a revolution to anyone still pushing players through NCAA 10 or 11. On a year-to-year basis, 14 grows more than it maintains, even if it stands in shadow of the looming EA Sports Ignite engine.
Review copies provided by publisher. Based on Xbox 360 and PS3 versions.REVOLUTION REPORT CARD Available Now Coming Soon
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