Not only is the second Tuesday of July the time for MLB's All-Star Game, but it has recently become an important day for college football and video game fans also.
EA Sports' 2013 installment of the popular video game franchise NCAA Football was released and marked the unofficial beginning of football season for many across the country. Excitement was high in Morgantown, as I waited in line at GameStop Monday night, along with several WVU football players, to pick up the game at midnight.
One reason the game is in such high demand with WVU fans this year is because of the move to the Big 12. Instead of playing the likes of Connecticut and Rutgers in Dynasty Mode, you have to play Texas and Oklahoma. There is really no need to beef up your out-of-conference schedule like many had to do in the past.
The Mountaineers return to EA Sports' preseason top 10 for the first time since the 2009 version of the game (2008 season). The Big 12 has Oklahoma (5th), West Virginia (10th), Kansas State (13th), TCU (17th), Texas (22nd) and Oklahoma State (23rd) all ranked in this year's game. That is 60% of the conference ranked in their preseason top 25. Quite a big step forward from the Big East the last few years.
But it's not the rankings that have WVU fans questioning what EA is thinking.
The overall team ratings don't really seem to be where many believe they should be. West Virginia is expected to have one of the best offenses in the country coming up in the 2012 season, but in this game, they are just above average. They are given a B+ rating, which may sound good to some, but there a few schools with equal or higher ratings that make you scratch your head.
Cal, Fresno State, Iowa, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pitt, SMU, Tulsa, UCLA and Virginia are all rated equal to or better than the WVU offense. That just doesn't seem right now, does it?
Quarterback Geno Smith (94 overall) and wide receivers Tavon Austin (90 overall, and with dreadlocks for the third year in a row) and Stedman Bailey (89 overall) are the top three rated players on the team.
The WVU defense is a major question mark on the game just like they are in real life, as they are given a C+ rating. The best player on the defense is strong safety (even though he will play linebacker this upcoming season in reality) is Terence Garvin with an 86 overall rating.
Punter Corey Smith leads the way on special teams with a rating of 87 overall.
Although the roster is in desperate need of revamping and reorganizing, I simulated this upcoming season to see how the Mountaineers would fare in their first season as a member of the Big 12. Hopefully for WVU's sake, this season turns out nothing like it did in the virtual world.
West Virginia ended the regular season with a 6-6 record and a 3-6 mark in the Big 12. The only victories the Mountaineers claimed in conference play were against Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas.
With a 5th place finish in the conference, WVU played the 3rd place Pac-12 team Oregon in the Holiday Bowl. West Virginia cruised to victory in this one however, 42-16, to finish the campaign at 7-6.
As a big fan of the franchise, I recommend the game to everyone, but don't be disappointed with how the Mountaineers are rated. Online play can be a real pain, that's for sure.