NCAA Football 09 doesn't quite step out of the shadow of Madden, but it offers a distinctive experience and is great.
There are other problems. Running backs are a bit overpowered thanks to the new animation engine, which allows previous moves to be interrupted midway and can be abused for some physically improbable stunts (I've had friends string four spin moves together, completely flummoxing defenders with impossible change-of-direction skills). And passing also has its flaws, with the AI QB tending to have impressive accuracy no matter what his rating is. QB's in this game have a ceiling of completing 55-60 percent of their passes, and the top-tier signal-callers complete 75-80. It's unrealistic.
That being said, the central football experience is still the best in the series' history. There are fewer flaws than in previous iterations, they clearly worked hard on this one, and the result is a very entertaining, if slightly unbalanced, game of football. If you like college football, you'll love taking your favorite school to the BCS Championship game - again, and again.
NCAA also has a ton of gameplay modes: instant action, dynasty, Superstar mode, you name it. You definitely have plenty to do.
Presentation (8.5/10): The graphics here are pretty impressive, on par with Madden NFL 09 and better than the 08 incarnations of either series. Sound is solid, and the commentary is decent if forgettable.