NCAA Football 08 Walkthrough
We're hitting the gridiron once again in another installment of NCAA Football. GameSpot's Walkthrough will help shepherd you through the pitfalls and perils of the collegiate pigskins.
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NCAA Football 08 Game Guide
Down by a touchdown, it's fourth down and eighteen yards to go and there are just sixteen ticks on the clock. What do you do? In last season's Fiesta Bowl, the Boise State Broncos upset the Oklahoma Sooners in one of the most thrilling college football games of all-time. In that fourth down play, Boise State used a trick play, the Hook and Ladder, to not only gain the critical first down, but to tie the game. Once in overtime, the Broncos ran a Statue of Liberty trick play to score a two-point conversion for the memorable win.
You could say that EA Sports' NCAA Football 08 was inspired by that great game. Former Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky is this season's cover player and both of Boise State's exciting trick plays are included in the game (check out Boise State's playbook!). NCAA Football 08 also features a new motivation system, auto-motion plays, and smoother gameplay.
This GameSpot NCAA Football 08 game guide includes:
- Team Stats: Statistics for all I-A college football teams in NCAA Football 08.
- Top 25 Profiles: Did your favorite team make the top 25? Check this section for profiles of all top 25 teams, including team and impact player statistics.
- Offense: This section covers offensive formations, packages, motivation, trick plays, and getting the most out of your pass, run, and option attacks.
- Defense: Look here for defensive tips, including formation and personnel advantages and disadvantages, packages, motivation, adjustments, and hot routes.
- Campus Legend: Here you'll find tips for a successful college career in Campus Legend mode.
- Mini-Games and Xbox 360 Achievements: This section features strategies for the mini-games and a complete list of Xbox 360 achievements and some tricks to unlocking them.
Chapter 1 - Team Stats
The following chart reveals the overall, offense, and defense letter grades for all I-A college football teams. These ratings were gathered from the Play Now menu.
|Air Force Falcons||MWC||C||C+||C|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||SEC||B+||A-||B|
|Arizona State Sun Devils||Pac-10||B+||B+||B|
|Arkansas State Indians||Sun Belt||C+||B-||C+|
|Army Black Knights||Independents||C||C+||C|
|Ball State Cardinals||MAC||B-||B-||C|
|Baylor Bears||Big 12||C||C+||C|
|Boise State Broncos||WAC||B||B+||B-|
|Boston College Eagles||ACC||B||B+||B|
|Bowling Green Falcons||MAC||B-||B||C+|
|Cal Golden Bears||Pac-10||A-||A||B|
|Central Michigan Chippewas||MAC||B-||B||C+|
|Cincinnati Bearcats||Big East||B-||B||C+|
|Colorado Buffalos||Big 12||B+||B||B|
|Colorado State Rams||MWC||B-||B||C+|
|Connecticut Huskies||Big East||C+||B-||C|
|Duke Blue Devils||ACC||B-||B||C+|
|Eastern Michigan Eagles||MAC||C+||C+||C+|
|FIU Golden Panthers||Sun Belt||C||C+||C-|
|Florida Atlantic Owls||Sun Belt||C||C+||C+|
|Florida State Seminoles||ACC||A||A-||A|
|Fresno State Bulldogs||WAC||B-||B-||C+|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||ACC||B+||B+||B+|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||Big Ten||B||B||B|
|Indiana Hoosiers||Big Ten||B||B||C+|
|Iowa Hawkeyes||Big Ten||B+||B+||B+|
|Iowa State Cyclones||Big 12||B||B||B-|
|Kansas Jayhawks||Big 12||B-||B-||C+|
|Kansas State Wildcats||Big 12||B||B||B-|
|Kent State Golden Flashes||MAC||C+||B-||C+|
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||WAC||C+||C+||C+|
|Louisville Cardinals||Big East||A||A||B|
|Marshall Thundering Herd||C-USA||C+||B||C|
|Miami University Redhawks||MAC||B-||B||C|
|Michigan Wolverines||Big Ten||A+||A+||A+|
|Michigan State Spartans||Big Ten||B||B+||B|
|Mid Tenn State Blue Raiders||Sun Belt||C+||B||C+|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||Big Ten||B-||B||B-|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||SEC||B-||B-||B-|
|Missouri Tigers||Big 12||B+||A-||B-|
|NC State Wolfpack||ACC||B||B+||B|
|Nebraska Cornhuskers||Big 12||A-||A-||A-|
|Nevada Wolf Pack||WAC||C+||C+||C+|
|New Mexico Lobos||MWC||B-||B||C|
|New Mexico State Aggies||WAC||C+||B||C|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||ACC||B||B-||B-|
|North Texas Mean Green||Sun Belt||C+||C+||C|
|Northern Illinois Huskies||MAC||B-||B||C+|
|Northwestern Wildcats||Big Ten||B||B+||B|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||Independents||B+||B+||B+|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||Big Ten||A-||A-||A-|
|Oklahoma Sooners||Big 12||A||A-||A-|
|Oklahoma State Cowboys||Big 12||A||A-||B|
|Ole Miss Rebels||SEC||B||B+||B-|
|Oregon State Beavers||Pac-10||B+||B+||B|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||Big Ten||B+||B+||B+|
|Pittsburgh Panthers||Big East||B||B||C+|
|Purdue Boilermakers||Big Ten||B||A||B-|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||Big East||B+||B+||B-|
|San Diego State Aztecs||MWC||B||B+||C+|
|San Jose State Spartans||WAC||C+||C+||C|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||SEC||A-||B+||B|
|Southern Miss Golden Eagles||C-USA||B-||B||C+|
|Syracuse Orange||Big East||B||B||B-|
|TCU Horned Frogs||MWC||B||B||B|
|Texas Longhorns||Big 12||A||A+||B+|
|Texas A&M Aggies||Big 12||A-||A-||B|
|Texas Tech Red Raiders||Big 12||B+||B+||B|
|Troy Trojans||Sun Belt||B-||B||B-|
|Tulane Green Wave||C-USA||C||C+||C|
|Tulsa Golden Hurricane||C-USA||B-||C+||C+|
|UCF Golden Knights||C-USA||B-||B-||B-|
|UL Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns||Sun Belt||C+||C+||C|
|UL Monroe Warhawks||Sun Belt||C||B-||D+|
|USF Bulls||Big East||B||B||B-|
|Utah State Aggies||WAC||C||C+||C-|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||ACC||A-||B+||A-|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||ACC||B+||B+||B|
|Washington State Cougars||Pac-10||B-||B||B-|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||Big East||A||A+||B+|
|Western Michigan Broncos||MAC||B||B||B-|
|Wisconsin Badgers||Big Ten||B+||A-||B|
Enter Dynasty Mode and you'll find slightly different stats for each team's overall, offense, and defense rating (a number instead of the letter grade). Dynasty Mode also rates each team's special teams (punt, field goal, kickoff units) as well as each team's prestige level, which is important for recruiting top tier players. One of the Xbox 360 achievements is turning a 1-star prestige school into a 6-star prestige school—check this table to find a suitable challenge (Western Michigan and Troy aren't rated too shabby for 1-star prestige schools).
|Air Force Falcons||MWC||70||72||67||56||2 stars|
|Akron Zips||MAC||76||78||75||60||2 stars|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||SEC||90||92||85||83||5 stars|
|Arizona Wildcats||Pac-10||85||83||85||72||3 stars|
|Arizona State Sun Devils||Pac-10||87||90||83||72||3 stars|
|Arkansas Razorbacks||SEC||83||90||83||54||4 stars|
|Arkansas State Indians||Sun Belt||74||76||73||60||1 star|
|Army Black Knights||Independents||70||72||67||62||1 star|
|Auburn Tigers||SEC||85||87||85||62||5 stars|
|BYU Cougars||MWC||67||74||65||49||4 stars|
|Ball State Cardinals||MAC||76||78||67||77||1 star|
|Baylor Bears||Big 12||70||72||67||60||2 stars|
|Boise State Broncos||WAC||85||90||79||64||4 stars|
|Boston College Eagles||ACC||85||87||85||56||4 stars|
|Bowling Green Falcons||MAC||76||81||71||70||2 stars|
|Buffalo Bulls||MAC||70||67||69||62||1 star|
|Cal Golden Bears||Pac-10||92||96||81||85||5 stars|
|Central Michigan Chippewas||MAC||78||83||71||64||2 stars|
|Cincinnati Bearcats||Big East||78||81||73||76||3 stars|
|Clemson Tigers||ACC||90||87||89||77||4 stars|
|Colorado Buffalos||Big 12||87||85||85||85||4 stars|
|Colorado State Rams||MWC||78||83||73||66||3 stars|
|Connecticut Huskies||Big East||72||76||67||58||2 stars|
|Duke Blue Devils||ACC||76||83||73||54||2 stars|
|ECU Pirates||C-USA||70||74||69||51||2 stars|
|Eastern Michigan Eagles||MAC||74||74||75||62||1 star|
|FIU Golden Panthers||Sun Belt||70||72||65||70||1 star|
|Florida Gators||SEC||90||94||85||76||6 stars|
|Florida Atlantic Owls||Sun Belt||70||72||71||51||1 star|
|Florida State Seminoles||ACC||94||92||95||83||5 stars|
|Fresno State Bulldogs||WAC||76||78||73||64||3 stars|
|Georgia Bulldogs||SEC||90||87||83||93||5 stars|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||ACC||90||90||89||77||4 stars|
|Hawaii Warriors||WAC||85||92||75||79||3 stars|
|Houston Cougars||C-USA||81||83||81||60||2 stars|
|Idaho Vandals||WAC||70||70||67||64||1 star|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||Big Ten||83||85||81||70||3 stars|
|Indiana Hoosiers||Big Ten||81||83||75||74||3 stars|
|Iowa Hawkeyes||Big Ten||87||90||87||70||4 stars|
|Iowa State Cyclones||Big 12||83||83||79||76||3 stars|
|Kansas Jayhawks||Big 12||76||78||73||70||2 stars|
|Kansas State Wildcats||Big 12||81||85||79||62||3 stars|
|Kent State Golden Flashes||MAC||72||76||71||60||1 star|
|Kentucky Wildcats||SEC||85||92||77||68||3 stars|
|LSU Tigers||SEC||92||94||95||64||6 stars|
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||WAC||72||74||71||54||2 stars|
|Louisville Cardinals||Big East||94||96||85||89||5 stars|
|Marshall Thundering Herd||C-USA||74||83||67||58||3 stars|
|Maryland Terrapins||ACC||90||87||89||77||4 stars|
|Memphis Tigers||C-USA||76||83||71||66||3 stars|
|Miami Hurricanes||ACC||90||92||93||64||5 stars|
|Miami University Redhawks||MAC||76||81||69||74||2 stars|
|Michigan Wolverines||Big Ten||99||99||97||74||6 stars|
|Michigan State Spartans||Big Ten||83||87||81||70||3 stars|
|Mid Tenn State Blue Raiders||Sun Belt||74||81||75||45||1 star|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||Big Ten||78||83||79||58||4 stars|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||SEC||78||78||77||62||3 stars|
|Missouri Tigers||Big 12||87||92||77||93||3 stars|
|NC State Wolfpack||ACC||83||87||81||56||4 stars|
|Navy Midshipmen||Independents||72||78||63||68||2 stars|
|Nebraska Cornhuskers||Big 12||92||92||91||81||5 stars|
|Nevada Wolf Pack||WAC||74||74||73||64||2 stars|
|New Mexico Lobos||MWC||76||83||69||66||2 stars|
|New Mexico State Aggies||WAC||74||85||67||53||1 star|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||ACC||81||78||77||85||3 stars|
|North Texas Mean Green||Sun Belt||72||74||69||56||2 stars|
|Northern Illinois Huskies||MAC||78||81||73||72||2 stars|
|Northwestern Wildcats||Big Ten||83||87||83||62||3 stars|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||Independents||90||87||89||85||6 stars|
|Ohio Bobcats||MAC||81||83||77||70||2 stars|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||Big Ten||92||92||91||77||6 stars|
|Oklahoma Sooners||Big 12||94||92||91||93||6 stars|
|Oklahoma State Cowboys||Big 12||94||92||85||99||3 stars|
|Ole Miss Rebels||SEC||85||87||77||81||3 stars|
|Oregon Ducks||Pac-10||87||92||83||66||4 stars|
|Oregon State Beavers||Pac-10||90||90||81||91||4 stars|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||Big Ten||87||90||89||62||5 stars|
|Pittsburgh Panthers||Big East||83||85||75||79||4 stars|
|Purdue Boilermakers||Big Ten||85||94||77||64||3 stars|
|Rice Owls||C-USA||74||81||71||62||2 stars|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||Big East||87||90||79||87||4 stars|
|SMU Mustangs||C-USA||74||74||69||76||1 star|
|San Diego State Aztecs||MWC||81||90||75||64||2 stars|
|San Jose State Spartans||WAC||72||72||67||76||1 star|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||SEC||92||90||83||93||4 stars|
|Southern Miss Golden Eagles||C-USA||78||85||73||68||3 stars|
|Stanford Cardinal||Pac-10||81||85||73||72||3 stars|
|Syracuse Orange||Big East||83||81||77||81||3 stars|
|TCU Horned Frogs||MWC||83||81||83||77||3 stars|
|Temple Owls||Independents||70||74||67||56||1 star|
|Tennessee Volunteers||SEC||92||92||89||85||6 stars|
|Texas Longhorns||Big 12||94||99||89||77||6 stars|
|Texas A&M Aggies||Big 12||92||92||85||85||5 stars|
|Texas Tech Red Raiders||Big 12||87||90||81||77||3 stars|
|Toledo Rockets||MAC||78||85||77||56||3 stars|
|Troy Trojans||Sun Belt||78||81||77||62||1 star|
|Tulane Green Wave||C-USA||70||74||69||53||2 stars|
|Tulsa Golden Hurricane||C-USA||76||74||73||81||2 stars|
|UAB Blazers||C-USA||70||72||67||60||2 stars|
|UCF Golden Knights||C-USA||78||78||77||68||2 stars|
|UCLA Bruins||Pac-10||92||92||91||85||4 stars|
|UL Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns||Sun Belt||72||74||67||70||1 star|
|UL Monroe Warhawks||Sun Belt||70||76||59||74||1 star|
|UNLV Rebels||MWC||81||83||77||68||2 stars|
|USC Trojans||Pac-10||99||99||99||79||6 stars|
|USF Bulls||Big East||81||85||77||68||3 stars|
|UTEP Miners||C-USA||76||83||73||60||2 stars|
|Utah Utes||MWC||81||85||77||68||4 stars|
|Utah State Aggies||WAC||67||72||65||51||1 star|
|Vanderbilt Commodores||SEC||78||85||75||56||2 stars|
|Virginia Cavaliers||ACC||81||85||81||54||3 stars|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||ACC||92||90||91||85||5 stars|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||ACC||90||90||83||93||4 stars|
|Washington Huskies||Pac-10||83||85||79||72||3 stars|
|Washington State Cougars||Pac-10||78||81||77||58||3 stars|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||Big East||94||99||87||81||5 stars|
|Western Michigan Broncos||MAC||81||81||79||76||1 star|
|Wisconsin Badgers||Big Ten||90||92||83||87||4 stars|
|Wyoming Cowboys||MWC||70||74||63||70||2 stars|
Chapter 2: Top 25 Profiles
This section provides team profiles of the top 25 college football teams, as rated by NCAA 08. Each profile includes statistics for impact players, 2006 on the field statistics, and analysis. Also, note that all teams possess Goal Line and Hail Mary offensive formations in their offensive playbooks.
Players are rated in several different categories—there are even more ratings in NCAA Football 08 than previous seasons (such as Hit Power, Press, and Release). The list below reveals the statistics and their descriptions.
- Overall (OVR) - The overall rating for the player. The higher the better!
- Speed (SPD) - How fast the player can run.
- Strength (STR) - The player's strength, which affects his ability to break tackles.
- Agility (AGI) - The player's agility, enhancing his ability to switch directions.
- Acceleration (ACC) - How fast a player reaches full speed. Great for sprinting through open holes in your line.
- Awareness (AWR) - A player's ability to react and adjust. High awareness generally comes with more experience.
- Break Tackle (BTK) - The player's ability to break tackles.
- Trucking (TRK) - Player's ability with the truck stick.
- Elusiveness (ELU) - Likely the ability to escape tackles (or perhaps sacks). This is a key statistic for running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks.
- BC Vision (BCV) - Ball carrying vision: ability to spot the open field. This is a key statistic for running backs.
- Stiff Arm (SFA) - Player's ability with the stiff arm maneuver.
- Spin Move (SPM) - Player's ability with the spin maneuver.
- Juke Move (JKM) - Player's ability with the juke move.
- Carrying (CAR) - How well the player holds onto the football. A higher rating means the less chance of a fumble.
- Catching (CTH) - How well the player can catch. A higher rating means fewer drops.
- Spectacular Catch (SPC) - A player's ability to make a spectacular catch.
- Catch in Traffic (CIT) - How well the player can catch the ball and maintain possession in tight coverage.
- Route Running Rating (RTE) - How well the player runs the play's passing route.
- Jumping (JMP) - The player's ability to jump, such as for grabbing high passes.
- Throw Power (THP) - How far a player can throw the ball.
- Throw Accuracy (THA) - How accurate a player throws.
- Tackle (TAK) - A player's ability to tackle.
- Hit Power (POW) - The strength of the player's hit, which can determine the success of a tackle or the possibility of a fumble.
- Power Moves (PMV) - Look for high power moves in defensive linemen. Power Moves is the ability to power through the block.
- Finesse Moves (FMV) - Similar to power moves but it's the ability to spin or swim around blocks.
- Block Shedding (BSH) - How well the player can shed a block.
- Pursuit (PUR) - Skill in finding and pursuing the ball carrier—likely laterally. For instance: a linebacker moving down the line to cut off the ball carrier.
- Play Recognition (PRC) - The ability to recognize plays. This is a defensive player skill that would seem to be tied into play action passing as well as recognizing the same play calls.
- Man Coverage (MCV) - Skill of the defender in man coverage.
- Zone Coverage (ZCV) - Skill of the defender in zone coverage.
- Press Rating (PRS) - Ability of defender in press coverage.
- Release Rating (RLS) - Ability of receiver to release from press coverage.
- Pass Block (PBK) - How well a player pass blocks.
- Run Block (RBK) - How well a player run blocks.
- Impact Blocking (IBL) - Would seem to be the blockers ability to make a leveling "impact" style block.
- Run Block Strength (RBS) - How well the player run blocks.
- Run Block Footwork (RBF) - How well the player maintains footing during a run block.
- Pass Block Strength (PBS) - How well the player pass blocks.
- Pass Block Footwork (PBF) - How well the player maintains footing during a pass block.
- Kick Power (KPW) - A kicker's power. Higher power means longer kicks.
- Kick Accuracy (KAC) - A kicker's accuracy.
- Return (RET) - Skill of the player as a punt or kick returner.
- Stamina (STA) - The player's stamina level. The higher the rating, the more the player can be in the game before he becomes fatigued.
- Injury (INJ) - The likelihood of an injury. The higher the rating, the less likely a player will get injured.
- Importance (IMP) - The player's importance to his team.
#1 - USC Trojans
- '06 Record: 11-2 (Beat Michigan in Rose Bowl)
- Conference: Pac-10 (7-2, 1st)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 14th (263.9 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 68th (128.0 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 64th (204.8 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 9th (91.1 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE WR, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips Bunch, Ace Spread, Empty 5WR, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form Big, Split Backs Normal, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin WR, Weak I Normal, Weak I Close
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The 2006 USC Trojans looked to be headed to another BCS Championship game until the squad suffered a devastating 13-9 upset loss to bitter rival UCLA. The then two loss Trojans were on the outside looking in as Florida was given the chance to compete for the title. But last year's painful defeats could be turned into this year's success: the USC Trojans are stacked with 15 returning starters led by one of the top QBs in NCAA 08.
The team ratings speak volumes: a collection of A+ and 99 grades propel USC (and adjacent Michigan) to a clear step above the other top 25. Defensively, the Trojans are fiercely stout; impact players ROLB #55 and LE #96 are two of the best in the game. If there's a team weakness, albeit a small one, it will be the Trojans replacing a WR tandem that left for the NFL. It's a small one. This team is tops in the game.
#2 - Michigan Wolverines
- '06 Record: 11-2 (Lost to USC in Rose Bowl)
- Conference: Big Ten (7-1, t-2nd)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 64th (195.2 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 21st (175.5 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 89th (224.9 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 4th (43.4 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE WR, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Normal, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips Bunch, Ace Double Flex, Ace Flip Trips, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form Big, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin WR, Strong I Twin TE, Weak I Twin WR
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The Michigan Wolverines, despite a similar one loss record, were left out of the BCS Championship game in favor of the Florida Gators. Although it was possible to make a case for either team, after the bowl games were concluded both Florida and Michigan left little doubt which team deserved the shot at the title. The Wolverines enter this season with something to prove: that they can defeat the rival Ohio State Buckeyes (the Wolverines have lost five of the last six meetings). And adding a national championship wouldn't hurt.
Michigan returns key starters on offense, including a fourth-year starter at quarterback (and one of the top ten QBs in NCAA 08) as well as a powerful running back and a fast wide receiver—both Wolverine impact players on offense. Scatter play-calling with a mix of interior runs and deep passes to keep the opposing defense off-balance and susceptible to the Wolverine's big play potential.
#3 - LSU Tigers
- '06 Record: 11-2 (Beat Notre Dame in Sugar Bowl)
- Conference: SEC (6-2, t-2nd in West)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 18th (251.7 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 31st (165.8 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 3rd (145.7 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 14th (97.1 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips Bunch, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form Big, Strong I Normal, Weak I Normal, Weak I Twin WR, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Normal Flex, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Double Flex, Shotgun Trips Strong
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The LSU Tigers enter the season with a few question marks, primarily on offense. The Tigers must replace an impact quarterback that went on to become the first overall pick in the NFL draft; additionally, the squad lacks a standout (though a stable of quality players) running back. Impact player WR #9 will help shoulder the new quarterback's load; he's fast with excellent elusiveness and will be your primary offensive threat. Defensively the Tigers are powerful—eight returning starters and two of the best rated at their positions, impact players LOLB #7 and DT #72. The Tigers' season will hinge on the showdown against current SEC and national champ Florida—fortunately for the Tigers, the battle takes place in Death Valley.
#4 - Florida Gators
- '06 Record: 13-1 (Defeated Ohio State to win the BCS National Championship)
- Conference: SEC (7-1, 1st in East)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 28th (236.1 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 38th (160.0 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 33rd (182.9 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 5th (72.5 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Bunch TE, Ace Tight, I-Form Twin WR, Shotgun Gator Heavy, Shotgun Split Twins, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Slot F Trips, Shotgun Normal Slot, Shotgun Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Wing Trips, Shotgun Trio, Shotgun Trips Bunch, Shotgun Tight, Shotgun 4WR Spread, Shotgun Flip Trips, Shotgun Trips Strong, Shotgun 5WR Trio
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
Although the game began with an Ohio State kickoff return of a touchdown, the remaining 59 minutes in the BCS National Championship game was all Florida. The SEC champion struggled several times during the 2006 season (losing to Auburn and emerging victorious in a close-call against in-state rival Florida State) but left little doubt in a dominating performance against the previously undefeated Buckeyes.
The defending champions begin the season with a new starting quarterback, though QB #15 had plenty of playing time last year (jump pass anyone?) and served an integral role in the Gators' success. He's a quarterback built like a fullback—82 speed, 90 break tackle, 90 trucking, and 85 stiff arm.
Don't hesitate to run frequent options and quarterback runs to held spread the defense. When the safeties cheat up, hit impact player WR #1 deep and take advantage of the fastest speed and acceleration possible. Work in new auto-motion Jet Sweep plays and use both WR #1's speed and QB #15's power on these option plays. The Gators have another tough SEC schedule but have the players and playbook (plenty of variety, tons of Shotgun formations, and trick plays) to challenge again for the title.
#5 - Texas Longhorns
- '06 Record: 10-3 (Beat Iowa in Alamo Bowl)
- Conference: Big 12 (6-2, 2nd in South)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 33rd (228.9 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 34th (162.6 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 99th (236.2 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 3rd (61.2 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, I-Form Normal, I-Form Big, Strong I Normal, Weak I Normal, Shotgun Split, Shotgun Ace, Shotgun Ace Twins, Shotgun Normal Slot, Shotgun Normal Offset Wk, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun 5WR Flex Trey
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
To meet expectations, the Texas Longhorns must avoid Big 12 stumbles like the 45-42 loss last season to Kansas State. Although the schedule begins soft, the Longhorns face a challenging Big 12—opponents that aren't simply divisional rivals but also top 25 competition. Offensively the Longhorns are strong with a top ten rated quarterback, a speedy running back (96 in speed and acceleration), and an impact wide receiver.
The Longhorn defense will have to improve on a 99th ranked pass defense to better complement a smothering run defense that was ranked 3rd overall (the secondary will get its chance with several new starters). Impact player DT #97 leads the run stoppers; he's one of the highest rated defenders in the game.
#6 - West Virginia Mountaineers
- '06 Record: 11-2 (Beat Georgia Tech in Gator Bowl)
- Conference: Big East (5-2, t-2nd)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 100th (158.4 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 2nd (303.0 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 109th (243.3 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 13th (93.3 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Spread, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, I-Form Big, Shotgun Split, Shotgun Split Twins, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Normal Slot, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun 4WR Spread, Shotgun Double Flex, Shotgun Trips Strong, Shotgun 5 Wide
- Defensive Playbook: 3-3-5
The West Virginia Mountaineers' offense can be best summed up in one term: speed. The Mountaineers have plenty of team speed: impact players QB #5 and HB #10 are two of the fastest and highest rated at their respective positions (and both are potential Heisman Trophy candidates). Because of its team speed, West Virginia is arguably the best option team in the game (and a usual selection for those that prefer scrambling quarterbacks).
A weakness lies with the defensive unit, specifically a secondary that was ranked 109th last season. Impact player SS #41 leads a defensive squad that must tighten if the Mountaineers are to challenge the top ranked teams for a national title—or even their own conference, which also contains top 25 ranked Louisville and Rutgers.
#7 - Wisconsin Badgers
- '06 Record: 12-1 (Beat Arkansas in Capital One Bowl)
- Conference: Big Ten (7-1, t-2nd)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 50th (211.5 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 37th (161.7 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 2nd (138.3 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 34th (114.8 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE, Ace Twin TE WR, Ace Normal, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Tight Slots, Ace Trips Bunch, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form Tight Twins, I-Form Big, Strong I Normal, Weak I Twin TE, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Trips Bunch
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
If you're not a Wisconsin or Big Ten fan, you may have failed to realize that the Badgers were 12-1 last season and defeated a formidable SEC opponent Arkansas (ranked a few spots lower at #10 in this top 25) in the Capital One Bowl. The Wisconsin Badgers won't slip under the radar this year. Impact player HB #39 is one of the most powerful runners in the game with a 95 trucking and 92 break tackle rating.
Defensively the Badgers are strong with two impact players and a highly ranked pass defense; the Badgers also gave up the second fewest points per game last year. Wisconsin's season hinges on an extreme challenge: facing Ohio State and Michigan in back-to-back weeks late in the season.
#8 - Oklahoma Sooners
- '06 Record: 11-3 (Lost to Boise State in Fiesta Bowl)
- Conference: Big 12 (8-1, 1st in South)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 70th (191.6 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 17th (177.1 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 41st (188.4 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 16th (98.7 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, I-Form Big, I-Form Twin TE Wing, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Ace, Shotgun Normal Slot, Shotgun Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun 4WR Spread, Shotgun Spread Flex, Shotgun Trips Strong, Shotgun 5 Wide
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
Preseason talk regarding the Oklahoma Sooners centers less around the upcoming season and more on last season's incredible Fiesta Bowl (and Oklahoma loss) as well as Sooners' off-season troubles. This season's Sooner team returns plenty of starters but lacks stability at the quarterback position: use impact player HB #23 to keep pressure off of the Sooner signal caller. Two impact players in the secondary highlight the Sooners' strongest unit. Both safeties are highly rated at their respective positions.
#9 - Virginia Tech Hokies
- '06 Record: 10-3 (Lost to Georgia in Chick-fil-A Bowl)
- Conference: ACC (6-2, 2nd in Coastal)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 82nd (181.8 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 90th (113.4 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 1st (128.2 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 11th (91.2 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE, Ace Normal, Ace Slot Strong, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, I-Form Big, Strong I Normal, Power I Weak, Shotgun Split Offset, Shotgun Normal Flex, Shotgun Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun Trips Strong, Shotgun Double Flex
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
In order to contend for a national title, the Virginia Tech offense must close the gap with its formidable defense. The Hokies' defense was ranked first overall, including first in passing yardage allowed per game and 11th in rushing yardage allowed per game. Led by two impact players, the Hokies' linebacker squad is one of the best in the game.
HB #28 is the impact player on offense; he's a solid, but not outstanding, balance of speed (93 speed, agility, and acceleration) and power (84 break tackle and 85 trucking). The Hokies' face tough division opponents (Florida State, Boston College, Miami) at home but square off in an early non-conference showdown with LSU out in Death Valley.
#10 - Arkansas Razorbacks
- '06 Record: 10-4 (Lost to Wisconsin in Capital One Bowl)
- Conference: SEC (7-2, 1st in West)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 108th (149.5 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 4th (228.5 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 36th (185.1 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 33rd (114.6 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips Bunch, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, I-Form Big, Strong I Normal, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Normal Slot, Shotgun Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun Wildcat, Shotgun Spread Flex, Shotgun Trips Strong, Shotgun 5 Wide
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
Heisman Trophy runner-up (and this season's likely leading contender) HB #5 leads Arkansas and the Razorbacks' top rated rushing attack (ranked 4th overall at 228.5 yards per game). HB #5 is the top ranked running back in the game: 99 overall rating and a near perfect blend of speed (95 speed, 96 agility, 97 acceleration), power (92 break tackle, 91 trucking) and special moves (98 spin move and 96 juke move). If you want to utilize a potent rushing attack, select the Razorbacks. Arkansas' playbook also features a unique formation, the Shotgun Wildcat. Use the "HB QB Sub" package to put the formation to full use.
#11 - Louisville Cardinals
- '06 Record: 12-1 (Beat Wake Forest in Orange Bowl)
- Conference: Big East (6-1, 1st)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 7th (290.0 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 12th (185.3 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 80th (215.7 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 19th (104.8 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Jumbo Heavy, Ace Big, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin TE, Weak I Twin WR, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Normal Flex, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Trio, Shotgun Spread Flex, Shotgun Trips Strong, Shotgun 5WR Trio
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The Louisville Cardinals had a strong 2006 campaign—a Big East championship and a BCS bowl victory over ACC champion Wake Forest. All of this without their top running back lost for the year in the season's first game. NCAA 08's top rated quarterback, QB #12, leads the Cardinals. He's an impact player and the quintessential pocket passer with 94 throw power, 95 throw accuracy, and 94 awareness (and very little speed and agility). The Cardinals had one of the most potent offenses last year (ranked in the top 12 in both passing and rushing yardage per game) and will need to repeat that feat to challenge for another BCS bowl bid.
#12 - Ohio State Buckeyes
- '06 Record: 12-1 (Lost to Florida in BCS National Championship)
- Conference: Big Ten (8-0, 1st)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 45th (214.7 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 26th (169.9 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 30th (182.2 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 15th (98.3 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE, Ace Twin TE WR, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form Big, Strong I H Pro, Shotgun Split Offset, Shotgun Normal Slot, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun 4WR Spread, Shotgun Trips Strong, Shotgun 5 Wide
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The 2006 Ohio State Buckeyes wish the BCS National Championship game had only lasted a minute. In that first minute, their impact receiver (now in the NFL) ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The celebration was short-lived; the Buckeyes' saw far too much "Gator Chomp" in the game's remaining 59 minutes.
This season's team faces an uphill climb to repeat a title game appearance; several key offensive starters are gone and both Big Ten rivals Michigan and Wisconsin are both fielding strong returning squads. The year's Buckeye team strength lies with the defense. Impact players MLB #33 and CB #2 are top rated at their respective positions.
#13 - Auburn Tigers
- '06 Record: 11-2 (Beat Nebraska in Cotton Bowl)
- Conference: SEC (6-2, t-2nd in West)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 88th (172.7 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 47th (148.2 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 14th (168.2 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 45th (124.2 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big 3TE, Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips Bunch, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form Twin TE Wing, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin WR, Weak I Normal, Shotgun Normal Slot, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Double Flex, Shotgun Flip Trips, Shotgun Trips Strong
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
Despite a poorly ranked offense (88th in passing yards and 47th in rushing yards per game), the 2006 Auburn Tigers were strong in the SEC (tied for second in the West) and were the only team to knock off the eventual BCS National Champion Florida. But this season's Tigers must improve offensively to survive a schedule that features road games at Florida, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia. The Tigers' defense, led by two impact players, ROLB #10 and one of the best defensive ends in the game, RE #54, must keep games close.
#14 - Nebraska Cornhuskers
- '06 Record: 9-5 (Lost to Auburn in Cotton Bowl)
- Conference: Big 12 (6-3, 1st in North)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 23rd (244.1 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 23rd (170.5 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 79th (215.3 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 37th (116.6 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace 4WR, Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE, Ace Twin TE WR, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips Bunch, I-Form Normal, I-Form Big, Strong I Normal, Weak I Normal, Weak I Twin WR, Weak I Twin TE, Shotgun Split Offset, Shotgun Normal Slot, Shotgun Trey Open
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The Nebraska Cornhuskers' 23rd ranked offense in both passing and rushing yardage per game didn't necessarily translate to wins and losses (despite a first place finish in the Big 12 North, the Cornhuskers finished the season at just 9-5). An improving defense (with impact players at both the linebacker and cornerback position) and a top ranked quarterback should keep Nebraska in contention. Back to back games against Texas A&M and Texas will determine Nebraska's success in conference; out of conference, look for the big early season game against #1 ranked USC.
#15 - Tennessee Volunteers
- '06 Record: 9-4 (Lost to Penn State in Outback Bowl)
- Conference: SEC (5-3, 2nd in East)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 12th (264.5 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 96th (108.0 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 27th (180.9 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 72nd (146.7 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big 3TE, Ace Big, Ace Twin TE, Ace Twin TE WR, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips Bunch, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, Strong I H Pro, Weak I H Twins, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Spread Flex, Shotgun Trips Strong, Shotgun 5WR Trio
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
Consecutive disappointing seasons may be new to the Volunteers but it's a product of being in one of the most competitive divisions in college football: the SEC East. The Tennessee Volunteers will continue to look up at SEC champion Florida and must contend with Georgia and an improving South Carolina team. The Volunteers also battle SEC West champion Arkansas and travel to Cal in an opening non-conference game. Impact players QB #10 (one of the top ranked quarterbacks in the game; he's purely a pocket passer) and speedy HB #22 (96 speed and acceleration) anchor the offense. On defense, coverage safety #33 is one of the best in the game.
#16 - Cal Golden Bears
- '06 Record: 10-3 (Beat Texas A&M in Holiday Bowl)
- Conference: Pac-10 (7-2, 2nd)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 17th (253.2 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 33rd (162.8 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 103rd (240.9 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 47th (125.4 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Normal, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips TE, Ace Trey Open, I-Form Twin WR, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin WR, Weak I Normal, Weak I Twin WR, Weak I Twin TE, Shotgun Normal Offset Wk, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Trips
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The Cal Golden Bears feature plenty of offensive team speed with quick impact player HB #20 (94 speed and acceleration) and blazing fast impact player WR #1 (98 speed, agility, acceleration, elusiveness, 96 spin move, and 93 juke move). Use the team speed to your advantage with outside runs, screen passes, and deep post patterns. The Golden Bears need to improve on defense to contend for a conference title with Pac-10 champion and #1 overall ranked USC. The defense's biggest stars are its safeties, including impact player FS #4.
#17 - Penn State Nittany Lions
- '06 Record: 9-4 (Beat Tennessee in Outback Bowl)
- Conference: Big Ten (5-3, t-3rd)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 58th (199.9 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 43rd (150.0 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 53rd (197.0 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 7th (87.5 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Twin TE, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Flip Trips, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form Big, Strong I Normal, Weak I H Pro, Shotgun Split Twins, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Normal, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Double Flex, Shotgun Trips Strong
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The Penn State Nittany Lions feature one of the top defenders in the game, impact player MLB #40—99 overall rating, 94 tackle and hit power, 96 pursuit, and 98 play recognition. An impact cornerback (with enough speed and coverage skills to play the top receivers man-to-man) solidifies a defensive squad that was top ranked in rush defense (only 87.5 yards per game allowed). Impact receiver #2 is a key component on offense—utilize his speed to test opposing defenses deep to open up room for the running attack.
#18 - Georgia Bulldogs
- '06 Record: 9-4 (Beat Virginia Tech in Chick-Fil-A Bowl)
- Conference: SEC (4-4, t-3rd in East)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 79th (184.4 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 71st (127.4 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 5th (150.0 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 27th (108.2 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, I-Form Big, I-Form Twin TE Wing, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin WR, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Normal Slot, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun 4WR Spread
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
A 4-4 conference record isn't going to cut it; if the Georgia Bulldogs hope to compete against the SEC elite, there can't be losses to the traditionally weaker SEC opponents Kentucky and Vanderbilt. The SEC isn't getting any easier. Two impact players on offense, HB #20 and WR #1, lead the way; both offer decent speed to stretch defenses. Speaking of defense, the Bulldogs' have only a few returning starters on that side of the ball; impact player MLB #12 will be the squad's leader.
#19 - UCLA Bruins
- '06 Record: 7-6 (Lost to Florida State in Emerald Bowl)
- Conference: Pac-10 (5-4, 4th)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 56th (200.3 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 63rd (129.8 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 87th (223.4 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 9th (91.1 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE, Ace Twin TE WR, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, I-Form Big, I-Form Twin TE Wing, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin WR, Weak I Normal, Weak I Twin WR, Shotgun Split Y-Flex
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
Although the UCLA Bruins' 2006 season ended with a 7-6 record and a loss to Florida State in the Emerald Bowl, most fans will remember the 2006 season for the Bruin upset against the USC Trojans. It's important enough to defeat your rival but it's even sweeter when it keeps that rival out of the BCS National Championship. HB #28 is the impact player on offense; this balanced running back features decent speed, break tackle, and trucking ability but isn't a standout in any particular area. On defense, the Bruins' key players are their impact defensive tackle and free safety. The unit that held USC to nine points in that upset retains 10 starters and should be one of the better units in the conference.
#20 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- '06 Record: 11-2 (Beat Kansas State in Texas Bowl)
- Conference: Big East (5-2, t-2nd)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 96th (164.9 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 15th (180.2 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 6th (151.2 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 17th (101.0 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Twin TE, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Bunch TE, Ace Trips Bunch, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, Strong I Normal, Weak I Normal, Weak I Twin WR, Shotgun Normal, Shotgun Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun Trips Bunch, Shotgun Trips, Shotgun 5-Wide
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights surprised a lot of people last year—no one will be surprised this season. Impact player QB #14 and impact Heismann hopeful HB #27 lead the Scarlet Knight offense. HB #27 is one of the best in the game; an excellent mixture of speed and power to excel in both outside and inside running games. Impact free safety #36 anchors a defense that was highly ranked in both passing and rushing yards per game.
#21 - Florida State Seminoles
- '06 Record: 7-6 (Beat UCLA in Emerald Bowl)
- Conference: ACC (3-5, 5th in Atlantic)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 29th (233.8 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 103rd (96.5 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 56th (198.3 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 12th (92.5 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips Bunch, Ace Flip Trips, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, Strong I Twin WR, Weak I Normal, Shotgun Split Offset, Shotgun Normal Flex, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Spread Flex, Shotgun Trips
- Defensive Playbook: Multiple D
The 2006 Florida State Seminoles were 3-5 in the ACC. That's correct: 3-5 in the ACC. It doesn't seem that long ago where the Seminoles track to the ACC championship was a forgone conclusion. The conference has become significantly tougher—and the Seminoles have steadily declined. Florida State must improve on one of the nation's worst rushing attacks (103rd in the nation) to succeed in a schedule that includes games at Wake Forest (last season's ACC champion), at Virginia Tech, at Boston College, and at Florida.
#22 - TCU Horned Frogs
- '06 Record: 11-2 (Beat Northern Illinois in Poinsettia Bowl)
- Conference: Mountain West (6-2, 2nd)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 48th (213.9 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 9th (194.6 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 21st (174.1 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 2nd (60.9 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE, Ace Twin TE WR, Ace Spread, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form Big, Power I Weak, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin TE, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun 4WR Spread, Shotgun Trips Strong, Shotgun 5 Wide
- Defensive Playbook: 4-2-5
The TCU Horned Frogs have quietly—at least to the national audience—put up 11 wins in three of the last four seasons. The Mountain West conference certainly doesn't get the exposure of the SEC or Big Ten but the Horned Frogs are a quality squad, particularly on defense where eight starters return. This group was second overall in rushing yards allowed per game. HB #23 is the impact player on offense; this quick, elusive running back will be the focus of your play-calling. Defensively, impact player RE #97 is one of the top rated players at his position.
#23 - Boise State Broncos
- '06 Record: 13-0 (Beat Oklahoma in Fiesta Bowl)
- Conference: WAC (8-0, 1st)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 52nd (206.5 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 6th (214.2 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 45th (194.9 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 8th (89.1 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Big Twin WR, Ace Twin TE, Ace Twin TE WR, Ace Trips Bunch, Ace Slot Strong, Ace Trips TE, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, I-Form Big, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin TE, Weak I Normal, Shotgun Split Offset, Shotgun Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun Spread Flex
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
There was an undefeated team last season and it wasn't the national champion Florida Gators—it was the Boise State Broncos out of the WAC. In one of the most exciting college football games ever, the Broncos defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State used an array of trick plays near the end of the game to complete their undefeated season. This game seems to have inspired this year's NCAA 08—former Bronco quarterback Jared Zabransky graces the game's cover and several of Boise State's trick play arsenal have made it into the game.
Check the "Hail Mary" formation to find the "Circus" play, which is the Hook and Ladder play. In the "Ace Trips Bunch" formation you'll find the "Statue" play, which is the State of Liberty play. Both of these plays helped propel the Broncos to their exciting finish. Although Zabransky moved on, impact HB #41 remains and will be a key player in the Broncos offensive attack. He's one of the top rated at his position; an excellent blend of speed and power.
#24 - Texas A&M Aggies
- '06 Record: 9-4 (Lost to California in Holiday Bowl)
- Conference: Big 12 (5-3, 3rd in South)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 72nd (190.5 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 8th (206.9 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 44th (190.5 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 55th (132.1 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big 3TE, Ace Big, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, I-Form 3WR, I-Form Big, I-Form Twin TE Wing, Strong I Normal, Weak I Twin WR, Shotgun Split, Shotgun Split Twins, Shotgun 2RB 3WR, Shotgun Ace, Shotgun Slot Strong, Shotgun Trips Bunch, Shotgun 4WR Spread, Shotgun Flex Trio
- Defensive Playbook: 4-2-5
The Texas A&M Aggies face a tough Big 12 schedule with road game at Nebraska, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma before battling rival Texas at home to conclude the season (the Aggies non-conference schedule also includes a road trip to Miami). Texas A&M has two impact players on offense, a quick quarterback capable of scrambles and option players, and a bulldozer of a running back. HB #11 isn't fast but he can pancake defenders with a 96 break tackle rating and a can't-get-higher 99 trucking rating. Don't forget to use the stiff arm.
#25 - Boston College Eagles
- '06 Record: 10-3 (Beat Navy in Meineke Car Care Bowl)
- Conference: ACC (5-3, t-2nd in Atlantic)
- '06 Offensive Passing Stats: 25th (241.2 yards per game)
- '06 Offensive Rushing Stats: 92nd (113.0 yards per game)
- '06 Defensive Passing Stats: 59th (202.9 yards allowed per game)
- '06 Defensive Rushing Stats: 26th (107.9 yards allowed per game)
- Offensive Playbook: Ace Big, Ace Twin TE, Ace Normal Slot, Ace Bunch TE, Ace Tight, Ace Spread, Ace Empty 4WR, I-Form Normal, I-Form Twin WR, Strong I Normal, Strong I Twin TE, Weak I Twin WR, Weak I 3WR, Shotgun Split Offset, Shotgun Normal, Shotgun Slot Strg HB Wk, Shotgun 5WR Trio
- Defensive Playbook: 4-3
The Boston College Eagles complete the NCAA 08 top 25. Impact player QB #12 leads the offense; he's one of the top rated passers in the game and primarily a pocket passer. Defensively, the Eagles have two standouts: impact corner #27 and impact linebacker ROLB, both of whom are highly rated at their respective positions. Boston College follows the road to the ACC title playing all of the top contenders, including games against last year's defending champion Wake Forest, at Georgia Tech, Clemson, Maryland, Virginia Tech, and home battles against former ACC favorites, Florida State and Miami.
Chapter 3 - Offense
A strong defense can keep games close but if you can't move the ball on offense, it may not matter. This section provides tips on executing your offense. You'll find coverage of offensive formations, new auto-motion and trick plays (including Boise State's Hook and Ladder and Statue of Liberty plays), and strategies for effective passing, running, and option plays.
Players can handle NCAA Football 08 offensive play-calling through lists of formations, players, play types, or even the not-always-reliable "Ask Corso" method. If you're looking to get a specific player involved, call the offensive play through the player menus; if you want to continue to abuse the defense on a particular play, then search in only those play types. No matter how you go about selecting the play, offensive formations remain the foundation of the call. The following list covers offensive formations you'll utilize in NCAA Football 08.
- Ace: This formation uses the single running back (the "Ace") behind the quarterback. Ace is a very flexible formation and available in a bunch of varieties. Ace can be run-focused with double tight end sets or pass-focused with three wide receivers. The lack of a fullback does decrease blocking but impact and motivated running backs can still thrive. Ace is an important formation for teams with a skilled running back.
- I-Form: Running back and fullback lined up in an "I" formation behind the quarterback. This is a strong running formation, though it can be balanced by using more pass-oriented variations. Pass catching fullbacks can thrive in passes to the flat. This is a good formation with teams with a skilled fullback—to assist in run blocking, pass blocking, short dump offs, and even mixing into the running game.
- Strong and Weak: These formations are similar to the I-Form but the fullback is offset to either the strong or weak side. The strong side is the same side as the tight end. Also provides a strong short passing game with backs out of the backfield. Force your opponent to think short while you mix it up and go long to a receiver or tight end.
- Power I: A combination of I-Form and Strong/Weak. There are a total of three backs behind the quarterback. This can provide additional blocking as well as more options in the short-passing game. Hit any of the backs coming out of the backfield and into the flat.
- Flexbone, Full House, Wishbone, Jumbo T: These are typical option formations with three backs lined up in a variety of formations behind or adjacent to the quarterback. Flexbone is closer to the line and Wishbone (so named because the formation looks like an upside-down wishbone) is away from the line. Obviously ideal for option plays, runs, and short passes. You'll find these in option-oriented offensive playbooks, such as Air Force. Full House and Jumbo T (check Navy's playbook) also use three backs in the backfield, though deeper than Flexbone or Wishbone.
- Split Backs: The backs are split behind the quarterback, essentially perpendicular to the quarterback or parallel to the line. It's an intriguing formation for teams with two good running backs (use packages to use dual HB) or good pass catching backs.
- Shotgun: The quarterback lines up several yards behind the center taking the snap away from the line of scrimmage. This typically affords the passer more time to find the receivers. Usually passing formation but can be a disguised run formation (a lot of auto-motion plays out of Shotgun offer additional run, pass, and option choices). Shotgun offers many variations and alignments. Mix it up and move an impact or motivated receiver around the formation to open up new routes and mismatch possibilities. Wide open, "spread" offenses are fill with shotgun formations and plays; check out Florida or Hawaii.
- Pistol: The Pistol formation is similar to the Shotgun but a running back lines up behind the quarterback adding to run potential.
- Goal Line: Tight formation intended to gain short yardage. Typically subs wide receivers for tight ends for better run blocking at the line. This formation can be a tricky pass formation if you can withstand the pass rush (the defense will likely also be in a Goal Line formation or at minimum attacking with a heavy pass rush).
- Hail Mary: If you need a huge chunk of yardage in a single play this is where you'll look. Depending on the situation, there actually may be better options in Shotgun formation (standard Hail Mary plays are fairly straight-forward). Check Boise State's playbook for a unique Hail Mary play: Circus, which is essentially the Hook and Ladder play.
Further alter an offensive formation by using packages. After selecting the formation, cycle through packages and make any desired adjustments. Packages either switch in new personnel not normally used in the formation or alter the position of particular personnel, such as switching a running back into the wide receiver position. Use packages to help get the ball to impact or motivated players and to create mismatches against the opposing defense.
- Strong Slot: Shifts the primary receiver into the slot. This is excellent for exposing a mismatch against a weaker nickel defense cornerback. Utilize Strong Slot for impact or motivated receivers to move them around the field to open up new routes.
- WR (or Flanker or TE or HB) Flip: Flips the primary and secondary receiver, which could put the primary (or impact or motivated) receiver against a weaker corner.
- Twin HB: In two RB sets, swaps in the backup running back instead of the fullback. Use Twin HB for teams with at least two strong running backs. This is a good package for misdirection runs, option plays, or check down passes in the flat.
- Jumbo Backfield (or Fullback): Swaps in fullbacks to the halfback position. Give the big man some reps; the halfback position has more elaborate plays whereas standard plays for the fullback are straightforward dive or blast plays.
- TE Slot (or Wideout): Shifts the tight end into the slot receiver position. Excellent for teams with impact or motivated tight ends; the package opens up new pass patterns for the skilled tight end.
- HB Sub (Spell HB) or WR Sub: Give your running back a breather and sub in the backup for a few plays. Or your wide receiver in one receiver sets.
- HB Slot (or Flanker or Split End or Wideout): Shifts the running back into the receiver position. This package is ideal for teams with impact or motivated running backs with high catch ability (high speed helps as well!). There's also an HB2 Flanker to insert the backup running back.
- 3 WR or 4 WR: Removes a tight end in a two or three receiver set and replaces with a third or fourth wide receiver. There's also an All WR package. Somewhat the opposite, the Big package uses tight ends to replace receivers.
- CB Slot (or Flanker): Insert a fast cornerback into the WR position! He may not be the best at catching the ball but it's sure to keep your opponent off guard. Not a bad move if your cornerback is currently motivated!
- WR Wing: Inserts the primary receiver into a goal line formation instead of one of the tight ends. TE Wing is the opposite. Used for the unexpected goal line pass play.
- HB/FB Flip: Flip these positions, perhaps in an option offensive set. Use for teams with a strong fullback.
- Backup QB: Get the backup in there in case your QB is fatigued or you just want to mix it up. Or perhaps your selected team has no clear-cut starter—both are equally good…or bad!
- TE/HB Flanker Left/Right: Shifts TE left or right or HB to the flanker position left or right.
- FB/TE Swap: Swap the fullback and tight end positions.
- TE Backfield: Move a tight end into the backfield. Good for strong blocking tight ends or to mix up pass routes for excellent pass catching, impact or motivated tight ends.
- HB QB Sub: In Arkansas' Shotgun Wildcat formation, it subs the starting running back into the quarterback position.
- Miami (or MLB or Heavy): Inserts a defensive linemen in place of a tight end. In MLB, places the middle linebacker on the weak side. Heavy uses another offensive linemen for the tight end in big formations.
- Regular: In Hail Mary, inserts "standard" personnel of 2 WR, 1 RB, 1 FB, and 1 TE.
Motivation and Impact Players
NCAA Football 08 eliminates the momentum feature from last year's game and changes it with a more player focused "motivation" element. You can use the coach's cam and the right thumb stick down to check your offensive player motivation. The concept is straightforward: actions performed on field can elevate motivation (noted by the lit circle when checking motivation levels). When the player has a ring of fire, he's "in the zone" so to speak and has increased stats. Players gain the greatest motivation when they're under your control. Making big plays while in the zone boosts motivation to nearby players.
The motivation feature mirrors real life football. You may hear of a running back that claims he gets better as the game goes on—motivation is a similar concept. The more you make plays with the same player, the more his motivation increases. A running back may be more skilled—because of motivation—on his twentieth carry than his fifth carry.
In the initial stages of a game, think about building motivation. Although you should certainly consider the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing defense (personnel, formations, etc), you should also try and build a ground game if you're hoping to motivate your star running back or utilize a short passing game to involve your premiere wide receivers. As the game progresses, keep an eye on your motivated players, especially those in the zone, and look to get them the ball. Mix up your offensive play-calling and packages to get the motivated player involved.
Impact players return in NCAA Football 08; these are your most important players, either on offense, defense, or special teams. Check the Top 25 Profiles section for a list of all impact players on NCAA Football 08's best football teams (or at least those ranked as the top 25 overall). These are generally your team's strongest players and should be heavily involved in your offensive game plan. Get your impact players the ball early and often to build motivation. Use packages, motion, hot routes—anything to get your best players involved and matched against weaker defenders.
Auto-Motion and Trick Plays
NCAA Football 08 adds some trickery to playbooks this season. Perhaps inspired by Boise State's exciting arsenal of trick plays in last year's Fiesta Bowl, EA Sports added both the Hook and Ladder (called "Circus") and the Statue of Liberty play (called "Statue") to Boise State's playbook. But there are several other trick plays found throughout other team playbooks as well as plays with the new auto-motion.
Green motion lines on offensive plays represent the new auto-motion. After you've pressed the button to snap the ball, the indicated player automatically moves into motion. The ball is snapped at the end of that player's motion. Several auto-motion plays put the wide receiver into motion behind the line where the ball is snapped just as the receiver reaches the quarterback, who's lined up in shotgun formation. Look for a lot of these plays in many team playbooks (generally called "Jet Sweeps"), including the national champion Florida.
These plays generally provide an array of options: you could hand off to the sweeping receiver (hold down the "snap ball" button to hand off), scramble with the quarterback, or even pass the ball downfield. One downside to auto-motion is that it will be easier for opposing defenses to jump the snap—just time it when the player in auto-motion completes his movement.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, Boise State's playbook features two trick plays, both of which were used in the Fiesta Bowl game against Oklahoma. Look for the "Statue" play in their Ace Trips Bunch formation. In the Statue of Liberty play, the quarterback fake tosses a wide receiver screen then "discreetly" hands the ball off the running back. It's basically a draw play, which has had its problems in console football games. Often the defensive line has already pushed through the offense before the ball carrier receives the ball. It can be difficult getting through the penetration and gaining positive yardage.
The Boise State Hail Mary formation contains the "Circus" play, or the Hook and Ladder. The left wide receiver runs an in pattern crossing over the middle. A receiver on the right side runs a similar in route through the middle of the field. As the left receiver makes the cut, toss him the ball; after the catch, look to pitch the ball to the other crossing receiver. It's a complicated play and extremely risky; if the pitch fails to reach its target, it's a fumble and likely a turnover.
Flip through other playbooks to find other trick plays, including flea flickers (hand off to the running back, who pitches back to the quarterback, who throws downfield) and WR Double Pass. In this play you toss a screen pass to the wide receiver who, with pass protection in front, hits a streaking wide receiver downfield for a big gain. Look for WR Double Pass in Ace formations. There are also halfback option throws; hand off or pitch to the running back who can look for a receiver downfield.
As your offense approaches the line of scrimmage, there's a mental checklist to consider before snapping the ball. Regardless of the type of play you've chosen, you can make adjustments and reads based on what the defense presents. These situations can apply against computer-controlled or human opponents.
- Has the opposing defense matched personnel to your offensive formation? For instance, you called a four WR set but the defense has come out with only four defensive backs. This puts your offense at an advantage and if you called a "surprise" running play it would be a wise time to audible into a passing play. The opposite is true if the defense is showing a heavy defensive back set; this defense would be more vulnerable to a run (defensive backs are fast but poor tacklers).
- What's the motivation level of your key players? Do you have any players in the zone? You should look to get the ball to motivated players to boost their motivation and get them in the zone. If you have players currently in the zone, look to get them the ball on the play.
- Where are the defense's impact players? If you're up against a defense with an impact ROLB, consider shifting your running plays to the opposite side of the field. Against an impact corner, consider using motion to move your primary receiver away from the skilled cornerback.
- Is the defense showing blitz? If defenders are creeping to the line in what appears to be a blitz, consider dumping off a quick pass to the running back or use hot routes to change deeper routes to shorter slants. If the blitz is coming, you will have less time to throw and must get rid of the ball quickly.
- Another method to countering the blitz would be to use hot routes to keep a running back or receiver behind the line for additional protection. A blitzing defense means there are fewer defenders providing coverage for your passing routes. If you can contain the blitz, you could take advantage of single-coverage and execute a big play against the overly aggressive defense. Protect your quarterback with additional blockers.
- How has the defensive line and linebackers shifted before the snap? If you intended to execute an outside running play or option around the left end but the defense has shifted its defenders in that direction, flip the running play at the line. If the defense has spread out and left the middle weak, audible from the outside run to an inside run or a passing play.
The Passing Game
At its most basic level, the passing game is dropping back, looking for the open receiver, throwing the ball, and making the catch. But there's much more to a successful air attack. This section provides tips on knowing where to put the ball, integrating your impact and motivated players, and performing consistent execution to avoid sacks and turnovers while maximizing big play potential.
A successful air attack begins at play selection. While it may not always be possible to focus your offense around your best player (the defense may be double teaming that player), you should certainly try to get an impact receiver (or certainly a motivated receiver) the ball as often as possible.
Avoid calling the same passing routes over and over again. Mix it up. Just because you have an extremely fast wide receiver doesn't mean every play has to be a deep bomb post route. Call a wide receiver screen or a short out route. Make the defense think short then hit the fast receiver on a deeper ball. Plus, by piling up short, high percentage passes, you can increase motivation for your receiver and quarterback.
Utilize packages and motion to help free up your star receivers. With packages you can shift a primary receiver around the field—onto the opposite side of the field or into the slot. This can place your best receiver against a poor defender—a mismatch that's certainly in your favor. Using motion before the snap can help free your receiver off of bump-and-run press coverage as well as help determine if the defense is in man-to-man or zone coverage as well as line your receiver against a weaker defender.
Know your personnel. Are your receiver targets fast or slow? Faster receivers excel in crossing routes and deeper post routes; slower receivers are better suited for curl routes or even quick slants where faster corners don't have the time to defend or jump the route (if the defenders aren't playing press coverage). Obviously it's better to test the opposing defense deep with your fastest target rather than a slower target that will likely be tightly covered.
After snapping the ball, watching defenders' movements can help determine where best to throw the ball. If you've called a slant, in, or crossing route in the middle of the field, watch the movement of the linebackers. A blitzing linebacker can leave the middle open; also, a linebacker may be in man coverage against a running back that's in the flat. If the linebackers drop back in zone, be cautious about tossing the ball in the middle of the field; these passes can be easily disrupted or picked off by a linebacker crowding the passing lane.
If you're trying to throw deep, watch the movement of the safeties. Ideally you want single coverage when throwing deep. Otherwise it's difficult to complete the pass and could very well be intercepted. See if the safety goes to the line (in a blitz) or is on man coverage with the tight end or another receiver. If the safety moves outside in zone to cover the outside receivers, look at a secondary read in the short to medium middle of the field or a dump off to a back in the flat.
The passing action is also important. Planting the quarterback's feet and passing the ball generally tosses the most accurate pass. Avoid scampering around and attempting to throw while on the run especially medium-to-long range passes in traffic. A dump off to a back in the flat can be made on the run or rollout but be careful about tossing the ball with defenders in the area.
When throwing the pass, holding down the target button tosses a bullet pass; tapping the target button tosses a lob pass. A "standard" throw is essentially in-between the two. Give your passes more of a lob or arch when you want your receiver to run under the ball or you're tossing deep over pursuing defenders. Throw a bullet pass when you need to strike the target quickly, such as in a curl route or to a running back in the flat. You can also use the thumb stick in precision passing to better place the ball—such as ahead of a receiver's route to keep the ball away from a defender.
After throwing the pass, switch players to the wide receiver and put yourself in the best position to catch the pass. If the option exists, come back toward the ball to make the catch. A quick move around a defender could avoid leaving the defender between the quarterback and your initial position. Utilize the catch button (for instance, "Y" on the 360) to complete the "User Catch". As the manual suggests, taking control and making the plays has the biggest impact for motivation levels.
Top Ten Rated Quarterbacks
The table below reveals NCAA Football 08's top ten quarterbacks sorted by overall rating. The chart also lists important quarterback stats: speed, awareness, throw power, and throw accuracy. Faster quarterbacks, such as West Virginia's elusive #5 and Missouri's quick #10, also have higher agility, acceleration, and special move ratings than typical pocket passers (such as Louisville's #12, the highest overall rated quarterback in the game).
Top Ten Rated Wide Receivers
Challenge defenses using fast wide receivers as deep threats or steadily move the chains with the consistency of possession receivers. The table below reveals the top ten wide receivers in NCAA Football 08. Key statistics include speed, agility, acceleration, catching, jumping, spectacular catch, catch in traffic, route running, and an assortment of special move ratings.
Top Ten Rated Tight Ends
The tight end serves a dual role as blocker and receiver threat. Don't underestimate the tight end in the passing game. The tight end is unlikely to break big gains but he often draws less attention than a team's premiere wide receivers. The list below reveals the top ten rated tight ends in NCAA Football 08. Key statistics include speed, catching, jumping, break tackle, trucking, and blocking.
The Running Game
Establishing a strong running game generally opens up the passing attack. Defenses will have to place more defenders "in the box" (the area around the line of scrimmage) to better be in position to stop your rushing attack—which often leaves receivers in single-coverage downfield. This section provides tips on gaining consistent yardage on the ground.
An effective rushing attack begins with knowing your personnel. Is your chosen team's running back better suited for power (high strength, break tackle, trucking, stiff arm rating but lower speed) or speed (high speed, agility, acceleration, spin move, and juke move rating)? Faster runners can turn the corner outside and elude slower linebackers and defensive backs for big gains but may not have the break tackle ability to run over middle linebackers. Power backs lack the speed to get outside but can truck through would-be tacklers.
Does your team have a good fullback? Where are the strengths of your team's offensive line? This can help determine if you should be running more around the left, right, or through the center or tackles of the line. The abilities of your personnel can help you determine which formations to select (Ace, I-Form, Strong, Weak, etc contain fullbacks) and if you need additional blocking help from tight ends.
NCAA Football 08 implements "lead blocking controls" that made a debut in last year's run-focused Madden (with Shaun Alexander on the cover). On running plays you can control a blocker and allow the computer to control the running back (you retake control of the back after completing the block). Use lead blocking to help open holes or engage a linebacker or blitzing defender to give your running back additional running room through the middle or around the corner.
Check play designs and follow the intended blocking pattern. Your offensive linemen work for a reason! Allow the blockers to do their job. Don't sprint through your blocking scheme. Allow the play to develop then sprint through the hole. Be prepared to use a special move—trucking, stiff arm, juke, spin move, etc—to avoid approaching tacklers. Keep an eye on your downfield blocking; look to move around receivers, a fullback, or disengaged linemen for help downfield as you rack up big yardage.
Top Ten Rated Running Backs
The following table reveals the top ten rated running backs in NCAA Football 08. Key statistics include speed, strength, agility, catching, carrying, break tackle, trucking, and an assortment of special move ratings. These are the best of the best on the ground; generally faster running backs excel in outside runs with special move abilities and stronger—but slower—running backs excel inside by knocking down would-be tacklers with break tackle and trucking ability.
Top Ten Rated Fullbacks
It's understandable that strong running teams also have skilled fullbacks: just look at Arkansas and West Virginia, which have two of the best running backs in the game. A skilled fullback can provide essential blocking in I-Form, Strong, or Weak formations, utilized in option offenses, or even provide a short passing thread out of the backfield. The chart below reveals the top ten rated fullbacks in NCAA Football 08. Key statistics include speed, catching, carrying, break tackle, and run blocking.
The option play generally separates NCAA playbooks from Madden playbooks (though the option play has crept up from time to time in the NFL). The pure option play is easily recognized; the quarterback takes the snap and moves either right or left along the line of scrimmage. The running back follows close to the quarterback. Depending on what the defense does, the quarterback can keep the ball and run up field or—if defenders are close—pitch to the running back.
There are other varieties as well. A triple option play includes the fullback; hold down the snap button after hiking and you will hand off to the fullback on a dive or blast play. You'll also find pass plays out of the option. Instead of running across the line of scrimmage, open the passing targets using the snap button and hit a receiver downfield.
Some of the new auto-motion plays (jet sweeps, etc) are like option plays. You can hand off to the motion receiver behind the line of scrimmage, fake the hand off and run with the quarterback, or drop back for the pass. The option is unpredictable, which makes it difficult to defend. The opposing defense must decide not only whether to defend run or pass but then must commit tacklers to stop a scrambling quarterback or an outside running back (not to mention avoid cheating up and getting beat by the long pass).
Utilize motion to add additional blockers or to pull defenders away from your option running lane. For instance, in a two tight end set (set up on both sides of the line), you can use motion to shift one tight end over to pair with the other one for extra blocking. On the flip side, use motion to shift receivers to the opposite side, which can pull away defenders and leave a more open running lane.
Chapter 4 - Defense
Long-term team success or failure usually rides on the defense. A team's explosive offense may put up 40 points per game but if its soft defense allows 45 points per game, conference titles and bowl games will likely be slim. Playing strong defense means making appropriate formation calls to counter your opponent's offensive personnel, maximizing the potential of your motivated and impact players, and controlling defenders efficiently in defending a pass, run, or option play.
Team Defensive Playbooks
Each NCAA 08 team uses a specific defensive playbook. Most teams employ the standard 4-3 defense but there are plenty that utilize a 3-4, 3-3-5, 4-2-5, or Multiple D playbook. The chart below reveals all teams and their specific defensive playbooks. Check the next section for specific defensive formations that are featured in each playbook.
|Air Force Falcons||4-2-5|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||Multiple D|
|Arizona State Sun Devils||4-3|
|Arkansas State Indians||4-3|
|Army Black Knights||4-3|
|Ball State Cardinals||3-4|
|Boise State Broncos||4-3|
|Boston College Eagles||4-3|
|Bowling Green Falcons||4-3|
|Cal Golden Bears||4-3|
|Central Michigan Chippewas||4-3|
|Colorado State Rams||4-3|
|Duke Blue Devils||Multiple D|
|Eastern Michigan Eagles||4-3|
|FIU Golden Panthers||4-3|
|Florida Atlantic Owls||4-3|
|Florida State Seminoles||Multiple D|
|Fresno State Bulldogs||4-3|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||4-3|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||4-3|
|Iowa Hawkeyes||Multiple D|
|Iowa State Cyclones||4-3|
|Kansas State Wildcats||4-3|
|Kent State Golden Flashes||3-4|
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||4-3|
|Marshall Thundering Herd||4-3|
|Miami University Redhawks||4-3|
|Michigan State Spartans||4-3|
|Mid Tenn State Blue Raiders||4-3|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||4-3|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||4-3|
|NC State Wolfpack||4-3|
|Nevada Wolf Pack||3-4|
|New Mexico Lobos||3-3-5|
|New Mexico State Aggies||3-4|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||4-3|
|North Texas Mean Green||4-3|
|Northern Illinois Huskies||4-3|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||3-4|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||4-3|
|Oklahoma State Cowboys||4-3|
|Ole Miss Rebels||4-3|
|Oregon State Beavers||4-3|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||4-3|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||4-3|
|San Diego State Aztecs||4-3|
|San Jose State Spartans||4-3|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||Multiple D|
|Southern Miss Golden Eagles||Multiple D|
|TCU Horned Frogs||4-2-5|
|Texas A&M Aggies||4-2-5|
|Texas Tech Red Raiders||4-3|
|Tulane Green Wave||4-3|
|Tulsa Golden Hurricane||3-3-5|
|UCF Golden Knights||4-3|
|UL Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns||4-3|
|UL Monroe Warhawks||Multiple D|
|UNLV Rebels||Multiple D|
|Utah State Aggies||4-3|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||4-3|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||4-3|
|Washington State Cougars||4-3|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||3-3-5|
|Western Michigan Broncos||4-3|
The list below reveals the defensive formations included in each playbook. Regarding defensive formations, the first number indicates the number of defensive linemen, the second number indicates the number of linebackers, and if there's a third number, that reveals the number of defensive backs. So a 4-2-5 defense features four linemen, two linebackers, and five defensive backs.
- 4-3: 4-3 Normal, 4-3 Over, 4-3 Under, 46 Bear, 4-4 Split, 5-2 Normal, Nickel Normal, Nickel Strong, Nickel 3-3-5, Dime Normal, Dime 3-2-6, Quarter 3 Deep, Goal Line
- 3-3-5: 3-3-5 Stack, 3-3-5 Across, 3-3-5 Split, 3-3-5 Bear, 3-4 Under, 5-2 Normal, Nickel Normal, Nickel 3-3-5, Nickel 2-4-5, Dime Normal, Dime 3-2-6, Quarter 3 Deep, Goal Line
- 4-2-5: 4-2-5 Normal, 4-2-5 Over, 4-2-5 Under, 4-2-5 Bear, 4-4 Split, 5-2 Normal, Nickel Normal, Nickel 3-3-5, Nickel Strong, Dime Normal, Dime 3-2-6, Quarter 3 Deep, Goal Line
- 3-4: 3-4 Normal, 3-4 Over, 3-4 Under, 3-4 Solid, 3-4 Even, 5-2 Normal, Nickel Normal, Nickel 3-3-5, Nickel 2-4-5, Dime Normal, Dime 3-2-6, Quarter 3 Deep, Goal Line
- Multiple D: 4-3 Normal, 4-3 Over, 46 Bear, 3-4 Under, 3-4 Solid, 5-2 Normal, Nickel Normal, Nickel 3-3-5, Nickel 1-5-5, Dime Normal, Dime 3-2-6, Quarter 3 Deep, Goal Line
Certain formations are better suited for specific situations. When the offense only has inches to go for the first down, "Goal Line" or "5-2" can be effective formations. Passing situations, however, generally require additional defensive backs to cover all opposing receivers; in this instance you must consider Nickel or Dime defenses, which add additional defensive backs to the formation.
Formations all have advantages and disadvantages. Before selecting your defensive play, check the offense's personnel and determine if you need more defensive backs to cover receivers or should focus on linemen and linebackers to help stuff the run. Also play to your team's strengths as well as impact players. If your team has a couple impact linebackers, avoid removing them from the field based on your formation call. Examine your favorite team's player stats and determine if your team is strongest on the line, the linebackers, or in the secondary.
The chart below lists some advantages and disadvantages of each defensive formation. The "Types" column refers to the formation subsets. These generally refer to the placement of particular defenders. For example, "under" and "over" refer to the placement (either left or right) of linebackers. The formations and subsets are basically identical to last season's game.
|Goal Line||N/A||Short yardage formation. A package can keep an impact or motivated safety on the field.||Tightly packed to counter short yardage and goal line situations. Shift the line and linebackers to plug expected run direction.||Watch the play action! Easily burned by a long pass—even a quick pass if the defense isn't in alignment. Be prepared to audible out of goal line.|
|5-2||Normal||Five defensive linemen, two linebackers, four defensive backs. Use packages to swap in an impact or motivated linebacker if he's off the field.||Strong for teams with defensive line depth. Run stopping defense at the line, especially inside runs.||Weaker against outside runs unless the defensive ends are especially strong. Runs that penetrate the line can be big gains cause of lack of linebackers. Not a strong pass defense.|
|4-3||Normal, Over, Under||Four defensive linemen, three linebackers, four defensive backs.||Standard base defense. Best if you have a strong line over linebackers and fast ends. Covers inside run well and short to medium passes.||Beware of the 3+ receiver sets. Outside and option run can be difficult without proper linebacker alignment.|
|3-4||Normal, Over, Under, Solid, Even||Three defensive linemen, four linebackers, four defensive backs.||Four linebackers offer a variety of blitz packages. Best if you have strong linebackers over line. Good mobility along the line for outside runs and options. Decent against medium pass as linebackers can cover lanes in zone.||Beware of pass-heavy offensive sets. You don't want linebackers covering wide receivers! Somewhat susceptible to inside run depending on linebacker assignments and their abilities.|
|4-4||Split||Four defensive linemen, four linebackers, three defensive backs. Use packages to swap in an impact or motivated safety if he's off the field.||Additional linebackers can protect outside run. Many blitzing options. Strong against runs and short passes.||Only three defensive backs will put a lot of pressure on your corners and safeties. Beware of trip WR sets or greater or play a safer zone defense.|
|46||Bear||Six at the line, two at the linebacker position, three in coverage.||Puts pressure on the quarterback and can defend runs at the line. Lots of blitz opportunities and coverage disguises.||Vulnerable to quick passes with so many at the line. Avoid using against pass-heavy formations unless you have the pass rushing skills to get at the quarterback quickly.|
|4-2-5||Normal, Over, Under, Bear||Four defensive linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs. Use packages to swap in an impact or motivated linebacker if he's off the field.||Nickel secondary to cover pass plays (three WR sets) and a good defensive line could still get pressure on the QB. Linebackers can blitz or be in their zone. Better for teams with a stronger secondary than linebackers.||Can be weak against a run that gets through the line—only a couple linebackers between the ball carrier and secondary. Stay in zone if you think opponent may run.|
|3-3-5||Stack, Across, Split, Bear||Three defensive linemen, three linebackers, five defensive backs.||Five defensive backs to cover the pass with three linebackers available to cover run or provide additional pressure on quarterback. Better for team with strong linebackers and secondary and weaker line.||Unless you use some LBs or DBs blitzing, the three-man line may not adequately pressure the quarterback. Can be vulnerable to inside runs with the lack of line defense.|
|Nickel||Normal, Strong, 3-3-5, 2-4-5, 1-5-5||Five defensive backs. Use packages to swap in an impact or motivated linebacker if he's off the field.||Added defensive back to protect against the pass. Use against 3 WR sets. Other nickel formations add additional linebackers if your group is particularly skilled or deep.||More vulnerable to run plays. Defensive backs are generally worse tacklers.|
|Dime||Normal, 3-2-6||Six defensive backs. Use packages to swap in an impact or motivated linebacker if he's off the field. The 3-2-6 removes a defensive lineman and adds a second linebacker.||Strongest against the certain passing situations. Six defensive backs can cover a lot of area, particularly in zone. Use against four and more WR sets.||Watch for a run audible at the line and beware of quarterback scrambles, especially if your defensive backs are in man coverage and moving away from line of scrimmage.|
|Quarter||3 Deep||Seven defensive backs.||When you're certain your opponent is going to pass!||With so many defensive backs, you are vulnerable to an unexpected run play. But often you will be in long yardage situations anyhow.|
Use defensive package to substitute specific position players into the defense quickly. This is especially useful if a base defensive removes a specific defender and you'd rather keep that player in the game (perhaps he's an impact player or already motivated). This list below reveals some of the more frequent defensive packages and explains their use.
- LB, CB, or Safety Flip: Flips the outside linebackers, corners, or safeties. If an opponent is running or passing heavily to one side to avoid your impact or motivated player, flip them!
- DT and DE Flip: Same as above, just the defensive linemen.
- MLB or OLB Flip: In four linebacker sets, this flips the outside or middle linebackers.
- LOLB Swap (or ROLB, CB, Safety, Coverage, Slot): Swaps specific personnel. Those players covering the left side of the field will now cover the right once swapped.
- LOLB Left or Right: In Nickel defense, subs in your LOLB. Important if that's an impact or motivated player you'd rather have in the current formation.
- ROLB/LOLB: Inserts this player into the Dime formation. Useful if that's your impact or motivated player. Also appears in 5-2 defense.
- Big Nickel: Uses two strong safeties instead of a third cornerback in Nickel defense. There's also Safety NB (nickelback), which is similar.
- LB Pass Rush: Positions a LB on the line to rush the quarterback.
- FS Sub (and D-Line Sub): Substitute specific personnel on defense.
- SS (in 4-4): Inserts strong safety instead of the free safety.
- FS (in Goal Line): Inserts free safety instead of strong safety.
- LB Ends: Positions linebackers at the end of the line.
- 46 Swap: Swaps position of the linebackers in the 46 defense.
- 4th CB: Switches in a fourth corner into Dime. Good for teams with depth at the position.
- Quarter: A Dime defense with quarter personnel (extra defensive back).
Motivation and Impact Defenders
NCAA Football 08 exchanges last season's momentum feature for a new motivation gameplay element. In regards to the defense, if a defender makes a big play—a key sack, big hit tackle, turnover, etc—he may gain motivation bonus. As the player continues to make big plays, he'll eventually become "motivated" or essentially "in the zone". You can check your defenders' motivation level using the "Coach's Camera" and moving the right thumb stick. Players with lit circles underneath their feet have gained motivation bonus; a flaming circle underneath a player indicates that the player has become fully motivated.
A motivated player gains stats and—in general—performs better than his base counterpart. He'll tackle better, recognize plays quicker, and pursue ball-callers faster. Take advantage of player's gaining motivation (or fully motivated players) by keeping them on the field by calling particular defensive formations or using packages to keep the defender on the field.
You can also allow that player to have "more responsibility" defensively. For instance, if you have a motivated safety, you could call defenses that either leave him alone in zone coverage or even use him to blitz the quarterback. A motivated corner could be left in man-to-man coverage instead of having to call safer zone defenses. A motivated linebacker could blitz and apply additional pressure on the quarterback. Motivated players also provide motivation boosts to nearby defenders.
Impact players also make a return in this year's NCAA Football. Impact players are basically your team's three top players; an impact player could be on offense, defense, or special teams. A star underneath the player's feet indicates impact player status. Like with motivated players, use formations and defensive packages to keep your impact defenders on the field as frequently as possible. These are your top defenders; executing a strong defense means keeping your top defenders on the field making big plays.
Defensive Adjustments and Hot Routes
Even after the choosing your defensive personnel, formation, package, and play-call, there are still adjustments that can be made before the offense begins its play. Make these adjustments to better counter what you expect from the offensive play call. Perhaps you expect the offense to run up the middle out of the called formation, toss a pass to the running back or fullback in the flat, or test your defenders on the deep pass. You can perform a lot of defensive adjustments and audibles before the snap—if there's time because the computer snaps the ball pretty quickly (and most human players probably give you the time to start alter coverage for each defender!).
Defensive linemen and linebackers can shift left, right, spread, or pinch the middle. Shift these players if you expect your opponent to run outside either left or right or up the middle. If your opponent has a tendency to always run to the left, shift your defensive linemen and linebackers to protect the outside left running lanes. Once shifted you can also change the direction of the defensive line or linebackers' initial push against the offensive line by crashing to the right or left (or outside or jamming the middle). Disrupting the offensive line's blocking scheme could open holes for your linebackers to make a quick tackle against the vulnerable ball carrier.
You can also make several adjustments to linebacker assignments. You can call off linebacker blitzes (instantly changing their assignment to a zone defense); blitz all of your linebackers; or blitz with an outside linebacker. Once again you should make these decisions based on the expected offensive play. If you expect a quick pass, you may want to call off your linebacker blitz to try and guard the passing lane against the quick strike. If your opposing quarterback lacks protection, consider changing a linebacker's assignment to a blitz and put pressure on the quarterback's upcoming throw.
Sweeping audible changes can also be made to your cornerbacks and safeties. Play bump-and-run press coverage against the opposing receivers; this is a good move if you have strong cover corners with high press ratings (if they're motivated, it's even stronger). Pressing the offense's receivers can disrupt the timing on quick passes but could leave deeper strikes open if your corners aren't quick enough to play the opposing receiver man-to-man. Alternatively, you can back the secondary off if you're protecting against the deep pass—perhaps it's 3rd and long to go or you're up by a few touchdowns and don't want to give up the easy touchdown.
Defensive hot routes are a new feature on NCAA Football 08. Highlight a specific defender and use hot routes to alter that specific defender's assignment. Order a blitz, put the defender in man coverage against a specific receiver, spy against the QB, or place a defender in a variety of zone coverage. For example, if your opponent is continuously burning you with passes to the running back or fullback or in the flat, use the hot routes to place an outside linebacker in a flat zone. Note that you can also use hot routes for defensive linemen, putting them in zone coverage or even QB spy to help protect against scrambles.
The final stage of executing your defense is after the snap of the ball. You may have called the perfect defensive formation and package and made excellent pre-snap adjustments, but if you fail to capitalize on your motivated defenders, deflect a pass, or make a tackle you still may give up big yardage and big plays. This section provides additional tips on selecting and executing defensive plays.
- Consider your chosen team's defensive strengths as you call formations and packages. A team with a stronger linebacker group than secondary could be stronger in 4-3 defenses than constant Nickel or Dime. If you have a strong secondary, you can play more man-to-man coverage (generally better against the pass) instead of the safer, and often more vulnerable, zone coverage.
- Deciding which defender to control isn't an exact science. Some players prefer a strong defensive lineman using power moves to try and put quick pressure on the quarterback. Other players take control of the free safety to disrupt passing plays or charge the line as a run stopper. Be wary of your selected defender's assignment. If he's in zone coverage than that defender is assigned a portion of the field; if you run out of it, you could leave field open for an easy pass. Try the middle linebacker in a QB spy or middle zone coverage. You're in position to stop running plays and can quickly move in or out to disrupt passing lanes.
- Enhance your pass rush by jumping the snap. Press the left trigger at the exact moment you believe the offense will hike the ball. If you're too early, your linemen could jump offside and receive a penalty flag. If you're exact ("Successful Jump" appears onscreen), the defensive line and blitzing defenders could gain an advantage over the offensive protection and have a better shot of pressuring the quarterback (or disrupting a running play). Watch for the auto-motion plays; the ball is snapped at the end of the player's motion, perfect timing for jump the snap.
- Become an unpredictable defense by mixing up your blitzes. Blitz from the linebacker position or the corner or even from the safety position but don't blitz the same defender every play. Don't allow your opponent to grow comfortable in the pocket; if your opponent knows where the pressure is coming from every down, he can adjust offensive play-calling accordingly. Use pre-snap defensive adjustments and hot routes to alter positioning and blitzes to further add unpredictability. The key is to maintain pressure on the opposing offense; be aggressive and force the opposing quarterback into quick throws and bad decisions.
- If the opposing offense focuses on a particular receiver, use double coverage—either through defensive play-calling or hot routes—to double team the particular receiver. Force your opponent to make tough throws into tight coverage or have to look elsewhere to throw the ball. Pull off a defensive linemen and move into the passing lane toward that receiver if drastic, triple-team measures are required.
- Going for the big hit could cause a game-changing turnover but it's also a risky move. Containment is often better in the long run. Use defenders to force the opposing runner toward additional defensive help (usually toward the inside of the field). Go for the big hit if you have further help nearby—help that could make the tackle if you happen to miss the big blow. NCAA Football 08 uses "Hit Stick 2.0" where you can hit high or low (going high is better for jarring the ball loose; low is better for ensuring a tackle).
- Quarterback scrambling is a favorite tactic of online players—expect to see plenty of West Virginia opponents! Defending the quarterback scramble is certainly a challenge. You must defend against quarterback runs, option possibilities, and finally the quarterback scrambling around behind the line then eventually passing deep downfield to scattered receivers. Put pressure on scrambling quarterbacks by blitzing from the corner (faster than linebackers or safeties). Control a defender on the opposite side. Try to contain the quarterback from the run then be prepared to defend the pass once it's thrown. Mix up your blitzes so the opposing scrambler doesn't know which way would be best to maneuver.
- Defensive formations refer primarily to the on-field personnel. 4-3 and 3-4 use four defensive backs, Nickel uses five defensive backs, and Dime uses six defensive backs. Additional defensive backs—basically more team speed and coverage ability—are needed against likely passing situations. It's possible to call Nickel or Dime personnel but then use a formation audible to switch into a 4-3 defense you prefer. You gain the benefits of your preferred defense with the personnel required to defend the offense's expected play.
Top Ten Defensive Linemen
The following chart reveals the top ten defensive linemen in NCAA Football 08. Key statistics include strength, tackle, hit power, power moves, finesse moves, and block shedding.
|Florida State||DT #96||95||68||90||85||85||92||92||78||80||84|
Top Ten Linebackers
The following chart reveals the top ten linebackers in NCAA Football 08. Key statistics include speed, strength, tackle, hit power, block shedding, pursuit, and play recognition.
|Penn State||MLB #40||99||86||78||92||94||94||88||96||98||65||75|
|Virginia Tech||LOLB #11||96||88||80||86||86||93||91||91||71||75||82|
|Virginia Tech||MLB #9||96||86||84||87||90||93||90||92||92||71||64|
|South Carolina||MLB #52||95||82||80||89||92||93||80||92||85||68||70|
|Ohio State||MLB #33||95||82||76||90||91||93||82||94||89||72||67|
|Boston College||ROLB #16||95||86||78||84||88||90||85||96||95||78||69|
Top Ten Cornerbacks
Cornerbacks are your first line of defense against an opponent's aerial assault. The chart below reveals the top ten cornerbacks in NCAA Football 08. Key statistics include speed, jumping, press, play recognition, man coverage, and zone coverage.
|San Jose State||#25||94||92||90||88||92||81||88||85|
Top Ten Safeties
Safeties provide assistance in both defending the pass and defending the run: these are your team's heavy hitters. The following table reveals the top ten free and strong safeties in NCAA Football 08. Key statistics include speed, tackle, hit power, press, pursuit, play recognition, man coverage, and zone coverage.
|Miami (FL)||SS #1||97||93||84||79||96||82||92||78||88||92|
|Arizona State||FS #19||96||95||88||70||86||82||94||93||85||94|
Chapter 5 - Campus Legend
Create your own prospect, compete in your high school playoffs, and attend signing day to become the next big thing in college football. NCAA Football 08's campus legend mode lets you take control of your favorite position player, attend practices, complete events (do you play in a pick up basketball game or stay home and do your classwork?), and finally compete in your team's college schedule. This section provides some tips on becoming the next campus legend.
- Character creation is your first decision in campus legend. Do you want to be a scrambling quarterback or pocket passer? How about speed running back or a power running back? Or forget offense completely and play on the defensive side of the ball, as a lineman, linebacker, cornerback, or safety? Consider your choices carefully, especially concerning the skills of your player. A power back will have greater break tackle and trucking abilities but lack outside speed. You won't have control over play-calling, though the AI seems to mix inside and outside runs. Create your character's size, look, and background before venturing into your high school state playoffs.
- Campus Legend is unique because gameplay is focused on your character. If you've chosen to play a running back, the camera sits just behind your player. You'll spot the offensive linemen opening holes (hopefully!) and must navigate through them. Not much different than the actual gameplay camera. However, choosing a position such as a wide receiver or cornerback offers a unique experience.
- One of the Xbox 360 achievements is creating a 5-star prospect. After each high school playoff game, your game statistics are presented along with a notification of which college scouts attended the game. A star rating at the top reveals your caliber. The greater the stars, the more college scholarships you will be offered (and generally better potential playing time). Game performance determines your rating. Make big plays, rack up yardage, and impress the scouts. Capitalize on your opportunities. You must win your state championship and if these conditions are met, you may become the 5-star prospect.
- After the high school playoffs, it's off to signing day. Scan the list of college scholarship offers. These reveal where you will fit in with the team. At some of the top 25 schools you may be 4th or 5th deep on the depth chart and have to work your way up to see playing time. At smaller schools, you may be 2nd string or game ready immediately. Your play at practice determines how quickly you move up the depth chart. Frankly, it's not that difficult to rise through the ranks, especially if you're a player on offense. Score a couple touchdowns in practice and it won't be long before you're starting. Defense is much tougher because it's harder to stand out. Choose your prospective school with this in mind.
- The "Legend Meter" tracks your progress throughout your career. One of the 360 achievements is to completely fill the meter. A variety of accomplishments affect the meter, including defeating a rival, winning a championship, remaining at school for your senior year instead of going pro, popularity, and winning the Heisman trophy or other awards.
- Remember controlling your campus legend is up to you! If you're a receiver, you will be responsible for running routes, getting open (press the "A" on 360 to call for the ball), and evading defenders to the end zone. But you will also be responsible for making blocks to help out the running game. On defense you must be aware of your assignment—are you in man coverage or responsible for a zone? Use strafe to backpedal as a cover corner. This is one of the most challenging positions in Campus Legend. Try baiting the opposing quarterback into throwing your way…just be ready to make the pick!
- In Campus Legend, you have no control over play-calling. You may believe the situation calls for a run but the coach has sent out a passing play. Infuriatingly, the coach has sent out that same passing play that hasn't worked yet! Furthermore, unless you're the quarterback you have no control over clock management or, unfortunately, how poor your signal caller plays the game. And if you're a Campus Legend on offense, you'll have to sit back and watch your defense get shredded and waste a big lead in the fourth quarter. Or your kicker misses a chip shot to tie the game! You have no control over these things, just as you would if you were a real player. It can be both exciting and frustrating.
Chapter 6 - Mini-Games and Xbox 360 Achievements
NCAA Football 08 features another round of mini-games and Xbox 360 achievements, though none differ significantly from last year's version. This section provides tips on playing Tug-of-War, Bowling, and Option Dash (and how to unlock the corresponding achievement in the Xbox 360 version) as well as the complete list of Xbox 360 achievements and tricks on gaining them.
The three mini-games from last season's game return and the rules and strategies are essentially the same. This section covers these mini-games again and provides some tips on scoring big and unlocking corresponding Xbox 360 achievements. The most important tip to consider is to tilt the mini-game in your favor through team selection. Unless you specifically want a challenge, choose a top NCAA team to control while selecting one of the not-so-top teams for the computer.
Bowling is arguably the most challenging game, particularly regarding the achievement—which requires a perfect 300 score, scoring 12 straight touchdowns from the 10-yard line. Your team starts at the opponent's 10-yard line. Gain a touchdown on the first play and you score a strike; score in two plays and it's a spare. It scores just like real bowling; strikes carry over points from the next two plays and spares carry over points from the next play. Yards gained count as points; loss of yardage, incompletes, and turnovers count as gutter balls—zero points.
You can firmly place the bowling odds in your favor through team selection. Many different strategies will work and can depend on your skills at particular plays. If you're skilled at rushing the ball, consider Arkansas and use the best running back in the game (HB #5) to plow through and spin around tacklers. If you're skilled at passing plays, consider USC, Michigan, Florida, Louisville, or other teams with top quarterbacks and varied playbooks. And if you're skilled at option plays, consider West Virginia—the fastest quarterback and running back combination in the game. And of course, set the computer up with a poor defensive team, such as UL Monroe Warhawks (sorry to pick on you UL Monroe, but your defense is rated D+).
Want to make the perfect game even easier? Choose "Freshman" difficulty and make adjustments to the "Game AI" sliders. Move all of the CPU defensive sliders to zero and adjust all of the User sliders on offense to 100. It shouldn't take long before you've bowled the perfect game. Your secret is safe and your achievement is unlocked for the world to see.
Option Dash is all about the option play. You score points with every yard gained and every touchdown scored. However, the real points arrive through the multiplier (for instance, a 5x multiplier scores 5x the points for each yard gained or touchdown scored). Increase the multiplier through special moves, such as a pitch, fake pitch, juke, spin move, hurdle, stiff arm, or break tackle.
Therefore it's important to perform as many special moves as possible, especially during long runs. Start with a fake pitch then a real pitch when your quarterback is almost tackled. When you're in the open field, do a fake pitch, a juke, hurdle, and a spin move. Perform a second fake pitch and another juke. Continue to string moves together as much as possible.
Because touchdowns gain so many points, capitalize on long yardage and big multipliers by scoring a touchdown at the end of the run. You will waste a lot of points if you're tackled at the two-yard line. Don't waste a huge multiplier without reaching the end zone! Your two-yard touchdown on the next play just won't produce the same amount of score.
Xbox 360 Achievements
NCAA Football 08 Xbox 360 achievements are almost identical to last year's version with a few new additions. You can unlock many of these through normal games as you battle in Play Now or Dynasty Mode but if you are extremely eager to elevate your gamerscore now, there are faster ways to rattle through NCAA 08's achievements.
The table below reveals all NCAA Football 08 Xbox 360 achievements, their descriptions, and associated gamer points.
|Throw 4 TD Passes in a Game||Throw four touchdown passes in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||15|
|350 Total Passing Yards||Pass for 350 or more total yards in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||15|
|200 Total Rushing Yards||Rush for 200 or more total yards in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||15|
|Player Passing Record in a Game||Break the game record for passing yard with one player (716) in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||25|
|No Interceptions in a Game||Do not throw any interceptions in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||15|
|Win by 21||Win a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game by 21 points or more.||10|
|Pass to 5 Different Receivers||Complete a pass to 5 or more receivers in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||10|
|100 Yard Receiver||Gain 100 or more receiving yards with a single player in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||10|
|100 Yard Rusher||Gain 100 or more rushing yards with a single player in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||10|
|Complete a 30 Yard Pass||Complete a pass for 30 or more yards in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||10|
|Complete a 60 Yard Pass||Complete a pass for 60 or more yards in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||20|
|Break a 30 Yard Run||Break a run for 30 or more yards in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||10|
|Break a 60 Yard Run||Break a run for 60 or more yards in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||20|
|Allow No Sacks||Do not give up any sacks in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||15|
|Score 35 Points.||Score 35 points or more in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||15|
|Player Rushing Record in a Game.||Break the game record for rushing yards with one player (406) in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||25|
|Intercept 2 Passes||Intercept 2 passes in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||15|
|Player Interception Record||Break the game record for interceptions with one player (5) in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||25|
|Return Interception for a TD||Return an interception for a touchdown on defense in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||20|
|Return Fumble for TD||Score a touchdown after recovering a fumble on defense in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||20|
|Make 4 Sacks||Sack the opposing quarterback 4 or more times in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||20|
|Held Under 200 Yards||Hold the opposition to under 200 total yards in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||10|
|Held Under 100 Yards||Hold the opposition to under 100 total yards in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||25|
|2 Sack Player||Make 2 sacks in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game with the same player.||10|
|Score a Safety||Score a safety on defense in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||30|
|Shutout||Prevent your opponent from scoring any points in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||30|
|Punt Return for a TD||Return a punt for a touchdown in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||15|
|Kickoff Return for TD||Return a kickoff for a touchdown in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||20|
|50 Yard Field Goal||Kick a 50 or more yard field goal in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||25|
|50 Yard Punt||Punt the ball 50 or more net yards in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||15|
|Block a Punt||Block a punt in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||25|
|Block a Field Goal||Block a field goal in a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game.||25|
|Ranked Game||Play a ranked game.||10|
|BCS Conference Invite||Get an invite to a BCS conference in single team Dynasty Mode.||25|
|Make a Promise to a Prospect||Make a promise to a prospect in single team Dynasty Mode.||10|
|Conference Champs!||Win a conference championship game in single team Dynasty Mode or Campus Legend Mode.||10|
|Heisman Memorial Trophy||Win the Heisman Memorial Trophy in single team Dynasty Mode or Campus Legend Mode.||25|
|Bowl Win||Win a bowl game in single team Dynasty Mode or Campus Legend Mode.||10|
|National Champions!||Lead your team to a BCS championship in single team Dynasty Mode or Campus Legend Mode.||30|
|Develop New Pipeline State||Develop a new pipeline state in single team Dynasty Mode.||25|
|Mr. February||Have the #1 ranked recruiting class in a season in single team Dynasty Mode.||30|
|1-Star into 6-Star||Turn a 1-star prestige school into a 6-star prestige school in single team Dynasty Mode.||50|
|Perfect Game||Bowl a 300 game in a single player Bowling mini-game.||30|
|High Score - Option Dash||Score 15,000 or more points in Option Dash.||30|
|Win Tug-of-War||Win the Tug-of-War mini-game.||30|
|5-Star Legend Prospect||Create a 5-star legend prospect.||20|
|Fill Up Legend Meter||Completely fill up the legend meter.||30|
|Old Spice Red Zone Perfection||Complete a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game with a Red Zone Efficiency rating of 100%.||15|
|Old Spice Red Zone Shutout||Complete a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game without giving up a touchdown while in the Red Zone.||20|
|Pontiac 4th Quarter Comeback||Win a Play Now or Dynasty Mode game when down by 14 to start the 4th qtr. (Min Difficulty: Varsity)||30|
The tips below provide some extra "assistance" in unlocking NCAA Football 08 achievements. While most of the achievements can be gained through normal Play Now or Dynasty Mode play, what would be the fun in that? Brag about your rockin' gamerscore after using the tips below!
- Tilt things in your favor by selecting appropriate competition. If your goal is to blast through achievements as quickly as possible, then select inferior competition. Trying to unlock offense achievements? Then battle a team with a terrible defense, such as the UL Monroe Warhawks (no offense to any Warhawk alumni readers). None of your friends have to know that you select USC and you set the computer up with a D+ rated defensive team—but you can still gloat about breaking the single game passing record and unlocking the achievement!
- In general, turnovers occur with greater frequency during inclement weather. If you want a slight advantage in gaining the Intercept 2 Passes and the interception and fumble touchdown return achievements then adjust the weather before the game and pump up precipitation to the maximum. For the fumble return, it doesn't have to start as a fumble return. You could intercept a pass then pitch it—essentially fumbling it when it hits the ground—and pick it back up and continue to the touchdown. Not necessarily easier but it works!
- A new achievement, the single game interception record (5 by a single player) is a tough one; use the same strategy but control the same member of your team's secondary for the entire game to increase the chance of user picks with the same defender. It's also wise to choose a team with an excellent secondary and a computer opponent with an atrocious offense.
- There are two achievements for holding your opponent to under a specific amount of total yards (200 and 100). The most important element to remember here is that it's total yards, not just passing and rushing yards. If you score a ton of points, you are going to kick off frequently giving your opponent an easy 20+ return yards with each boot. An easy way to unlock these achievements is to turn off the "Offside" penalty and use a defender to sack the opposing quarterback every down. If you choose to score points, kick the ball out of bounds. And don't punt. If you do punt, kick it out of bounds.
- Speaking of the "Offside" penalty, adjusting that slider to zero (in the Game Rules menu) makes many other achievements a breeze. Making 4 Sacks and 2 Sack Player are both ridiculously simple (albeit a tad unrewarding, of course) when you can just line up your defender next to the quarterback as he snaps the ball. Scoring a Safety is also a breeze—the only hard part is getting your opponent on the one or two yard line. To do this, run your offense as normal but stop short of the goal line. Waste downs either spiking the ball or kneeling. Your opponent will take over on offense at the goal line. Move your defender into position (next to the opposing quarterback!) and make the tackle!
- There are a bunch of achievements dedicated to offensive exploits, such as a 100 yard rusher or receiver or a 350 yard passer. Team selection is obviously important here. Select a skilled passing team when going for the aerial achievements and a skilled running team when trying to unlock the rushing attack achievements. And of course select UL Monroe Warhawks (sorry again Warhawk fans) as the unfortunate team to defend your offensive onslaught. Become one-dimensional (a bad thing when playing a "real" game but essential here) and focus your offense on a singular goal—achievement unlocked!
- Two new achievements for NCAA 08 include breaking the single game passing yardage and rushing yardage records. This is high yardage by "normal" game standards but if you use the above tip (select great offense, play against bad defense, focus play-calling) and concentrate all passing or rushing yardage on a single player (same quarterback and same running back for their respective achievements) it shouldn't take long before you have crushed the record books.
- Block a punt of field goal using the "No Offside" slider trick. To gain the achievement, you must block the ball after the punter or kicker strikes it (you can't simply strike the ball while in its flight or tackle the punter). Even with the Offside trick, it's not a completely simple matter. As the opposing special team unit prepares the snap, maneuver your defender to close to the punter or kicker. Just as the ball leaves the foot, stand in front and press the "Y" button to jump up.
- Other new achievements include the—ahem—sponsored achievements. Two are associated with the red zone (the goal line to the 20-yard line). In one you must have 100% perfection (scoring TDs) for each time you enter the red zone; in the other you must prevent your opponent from scoring TDs while in the red zone. Both are straight forward and can be accomplished during normal play or using some of the tricks listed in this section (the Offside trick can certainly put a stop to any opponent's drive in the red zone!).
- The other sponsored achievement deals with the 4th quarter comeback. This is another achievement that will likely be gained through normal play but can be easily staged as well. Choose a great team for yourself and give the computer opponent a terrible team. Allow your opponent to go up by at least 14 before the start of the 4th quarter. Now you must simply put your skills to the test (playing as an A+ team versus a C team will certainly sway things in your favor). You really have no excuses if you're playing against UL Monroe, right? (Sorry again Warhawks)