With NCAA Football 14 now available on store shelves, college football fans have something to spend their time with before the season officially gets underway next month. The game comes with over a 100 different teams to choose from, ranging from such fan favorites as LSU and Nebraska to not-so-popular teams like North Texas and Memphis, which leaves some rookie players asking, "So where do I start?"
Not to worry. We did some research and came up with the 10 best teams. The Alabama Crimson Tide, winners of last year's BCS Championship, may be the obvious choice, but there are other teams that prove their worth in terms of offensive and defensive skills.
Alabama Crimson Tide (Overall Ranking: 99, Offensive Ranking: 99, Defensive Ranking: 99)
Of course, the Crimson Tide are a prime choice for winning in NCAA Football 14. Led by Nick Saban since 2007, the team has amassed an extraordinary record of 63-13, and have earned three championships in that time, including this year's BCS Championship. They're more than capable of handling themselves when it comes to a strong offense, and their defense allows for minimal scoring at best. If you find yourself slotted against these guys in an online match, you're bound to be stomped unless you're really good.
LSU Tigers (Overall Ranking: 93, Offensive Ranking: 93, Defensive Ranking: 92)
Louisiana State University has been in the football hunt since 1893 and the "Fighting Tigers" remain a prominent opponent today, thanks to strength in both its offense and defense. Even though it lost the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to Clemson in a close 25-24 contest, they remain true contenders and a prime pick to take into battle in NCAA 14.
Georgia Bulldogs (Overall Ranking: 91, Offensive Ranking: 95, Defensive Ranking: 88)
These Bulldogs have had bite for several years now, and managed to walk away with a victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl earlier this year, winning 45-31. They bring plenty of offensive and defensive skills to the table in NCAA 14, enough to make them a contender both online and off.
Texas A & M Aggies (Overall Ranking: 91, Offensive Ranking: 95, Defensive Ranking: 88)
Although we're still trying to figure out what an "aggie" is, Texas' A & M team has been dominant over the past few years. Under the tutelage of coach Kevin Sumlin, they've proven their worth with a good win/loss record for their conference. They also walked away with a victory over the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl Classic, 41-13. If that doesn't say "championship team", we're not sure what does.
Florida Gators (Overall Ranking: 90, Offensive Ranking: 90, Defensive Ranking: 92)
Here we go, Gators. Of course Florida is going to end up on this list of recommended teams. They're a well-balanced squad when it comes to holding the line on fourth downs and scoring in the end zone. Even with a loss to Louisville in last year's BCS-supported Sugar Bowl, it managed to eke out an impressive 11-2 record for the season. They're worth competing with, especially if you need a pick-me-up from how the Miami Dolphins are performing in Madden NFL 13. Ouch.
Ole Miss Rebels (Overall Ranking: 90, Offensive Ranking: 91, Defensive Ranking: 88)
Ole Miss sounds like a lady in distress, but the team itself is anything but. First established in 1890, this squad built the kind of legacy that very few teams can match. Home to such hall-of-famers as Archie Manning and Barney Poole, the team crafted a solid offensive line as well as a strong defense. The latest victory came against Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl, where it managed to hang on with a solid 38-17 win. That gives it a record where it has nearly double the wins over its losses in bowls overall. That spells winner – and a team you should check out.
South Carolina Gamecocks (Overall Ranking: 90, Offensive Ranking: 88, Defensive Ranking: 90)
These guys have the word "Game" in their team name, so that means they must be good in NCAA 14, right? Regardless of title, South Carolina has fared well in college football, winning its latest bowl, the Outback Bowl, over Michigan earlier this year, 33-28. It also helps that they're under the leadership of Steve Spurrier, a man who's seen his fair share of experience in both college and professional football. That's something to keep in mind with Dynasty Mode.
Arkansas Razorbacks (Overall Ranking: 88, Offensive Ranking: 88, Defensive Ranking: 87)
The Razorbacks are a tough team and one newcomers should definitely try out. Over the years, they've won a number of both conference and divisional championships, and have the new leadership of Bret Bielema to guide them to victory. They also have a number of rivalries that are worth checking out, particularly against the Ole Miss Rebels and the LSU Tigers.
Auburn Tigers (Overall Ranking: 88, Offensive Ranking: 88, Defensive Ranking: 90)
Another "old-school" team that has been around since the 1890s, the Tigers have their fair share of championships, becoming a notable powerhouse in the college football world. It's amassed a number of records, including most perfect seasons – seven, with the most recent back in 2010 – and bowl victories – including three back-to-backs spanning from 2009 to 2011. To ignore the Tigers would be a huge mistake.
Mississippi State Bulldogs, MSU for short (Overall Ranking: 88 Offensive Ranking: 90, Defensive Ranking: 85)
Finally, these other Bulldogs mean just as much business as the previous nine teams we introduced. They've won a number of bowl games over the years, even though they came up short in this year's Gator Bowl against Northwestern, losing 34-20. Don't let that throw you off – the offense still speaks volumes, and their defensive ends are nothing to scoff at either. It'll be interesting to see how these guys fare against Ole Miss.
NCAA Football 14 is available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.