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Is EA Sports Keeping it Real with the Big 12 Rankings?

EA Sports keeping it real with their rankings of the Big 12 teams on the overall, offense and defense rankings for NCAA Football '14?

David Banks

One of the big things that EA Sports is wanting to do with NCAA Football '14 is "keep it real". They want to bring more realism to the game itself, see the EA Sports preview here and some additional game reviews on Polygon (SB Nation's sister-site for gaming) here and here. But I was curious as to a couple of things.

The first thing is that I had mentioned earlier that the EA Sports NCAA Football '14 ratings were released. I'm not a gamer, but I was curious as to how close this was in comparison for the Big 12. Thank you internet table-maker. This list is alphabetical, except for the last two teams which are Texas Tech's non-conference opponents and wanted to throw them in there just for comparison purposes.

EA Sports Team Rankings for Big 12 & Texas Tech Non-Conference
Baylor Bears
90 90 88
Iowa St. Cyclones
81 81 83
Kansas Jayhawks
81 84 78
Kansas St. Wildcats
86 91 83
Oklahoma Sooners
91 97 88
Oklahoma St.Cowboys 91 93 92
TCU Horned Frogs
84 86 85
Texas Longhorns
93 95 93
Texas Tech Red Raiders
86 90 83
West Virginia Mountaineers
84 83 87
SMU Mustangs
81 83 78
Texas State Bobcats
68 67 70

So if we take the overall ratings by EA Sports, we get the following finish for the Big 12 for the 2013 season:

1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
2. Oklahoma St.
4. Baylor
5. Kansas St.
5. Texas Tech
7. TCU
7. West Virginia
9. Iowa St.
9. Kansas

The ties are by alphabetical order (I hope), but the biggest thing that jumps out to me is that EA Sports is really down on TCU as they've been somewhat of a preseason darling.

And EA Sports' rankings, at least the top half, seem to reflect what just about every preseason publication thinks, which is that the top three teams are UT, OU and OSU, in some form or fashion, while Baylor is also getting some preseason love even though both Baylor and Texas Tech finished with identical records and Texas Tech had to overcome having a crappy head coach, while Baylor has a very good head coach, but I digress.

I think that Texas Tech fans could live with that.

My next thought was to consider the rankings of the individual sides of the ball, so let's get to the offense first. Here's the rankings of the offense:

1. Oklahoma
2. Texas
3. Oklahoma State
4. Kansas State
5. Baylor
5. Texas Tech
7. TCU
8. Kansas
9. West Virginia
10. Iowa State

Surprising things here? EA Sports thinks that Oklahoma and Texas will have, by far and away, the best offenses. I don't know if I'm going to buy that. For Texas Tech fans, EA Sports has the Red Raiders pretty much on par with Baylor and Kansas St. I think I can live with that, consider Texas Tech's offensive line. The biggest surprise is West Virginia's 9th place ranking and that seems way too low for a guy that drinks Red Bull for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What about the defenses? I'm glad you asked.

1. Texas
2. Oklahoma State
3. Oklahoma
4. Baylor
5. West Virginia
6. TCU
7. Kansas State
8. Texas Tech
9. Iowa State
10. Kansas

Alright, I am now officially confused. I get the top three, again, this seems to be the preseason concensus. That's easy, but I'm confused by everything else.

If we go back to 2012, the defensive FEI ratings were as follows for the Big 12 (national rankings in parentheses):

1. Kansas St. (10)
2. TCU (11)
3. Oklahoma (25)
4. Oklahoma St. (30)
5. Texas (38)
6. Iowa St. (50)
7. Texas Tech (66)
8. West Virginia (73)
9. Kansas (83)
10. Baylor (85)

I won't sugar-coat this, Texas Tech's defense was really bad last year, not as bad as other teams, but we're splitting hairs here in that I won't try to argue that Texas Tech's defense was significantly better or worse than West Virginia, Kansas and Baylor. They were all awful, I think the difference here is that Texas Tech was unbelievable during their non-conference play. I know the 2012 defensive FEI rankings don't take into account players lost, but until Texas Tech, West Virginia, Kansas and Baylor actually stop someone, then I'll believe it. And Baylor had the worst defense in the Big 12 last year.

Now it's up to you all to keep it real. Where did EA Sports keep it real and where did EA Sports not keep it real. And yes, within the SB Nation college writers, we have already agreed that it would be totally acceptable to add a Dave Chapelle link, "When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong" (language warning).

Let's party.