Feature Article
Top Five EA NCAA Football Games of All Time
5. NCAA Football 11 (Xbox 360/PS3)

After five lackluster titles on the current-generation consoles, fans of the NCAA series were finally thrown a bone with the release of NCAA Football 11. With slick graphics, authentic team entrances and an all-new locomotion engine, NCAA 11 was a rebirth for the series. Yes, the game did include a nasty dynasty progression bug and there were definitely some quirks regarding CPU AI, but the on-field gameplay was relatively solid, evoking the same type of addictive feeling within Dynasty mode that was felt during the PS2/Xbox days.

We also got an Online Dynasty mode, complete with the Story Builder feature and Dynasty Anywhere. Gamers everywhere became their local college news agency, trashing their friends after humiliating losses. There is no doubt that productivity at businesses everywhere dropped as employees recruited the next five-star stud.

4. College Football USA 96 (Genesis)

Building on the solid framework of Bill Walsh College Football 95, College Football USA 96 was the first game to feature all 108 Division I schools, along with predicting the future by allowing gamers to participate in today's traditional BCS bowl games before they were huge money grabs.

The on-field gameplay was solid as well, mostly due to the integration of a five receiver passsing mode and team-specific formations like the Wishbone. This game was reason enough to own a Genesis over a Super Nintendo at the time -- SNES gamers had to wait an entire year before the franchise would make a return on the console.

(Pro Tip: I will claim to my dying day that Michigan State was the best team in this game. The combination of Tony Banks, Scott Greene and Derrick Mason was unstoppable.)

3. NCAA Football 99

I strongly considered putting NCAA 98 at the third spot on this list because of its introduction of a multi-year dynasty. Ultimately, the complete lack of defense in human vs. human games nixed that idea, so it was only natural that NCAA Football 99 ascend to this position.

Not only had the defensive gameplay and Dynasty mode in NCAA 98 been refined, but the game included, for the first time, an optional 16-team playoff format. Yes, you heard it right, back in 1998 you were able to select whether you wanted your dynasty to end in a bowl game or in a 16-team playoff. Perhaps the NCAA should be paying attention?

2. NCAA Football 2006 (PS2/Xbox)

From the polished gameplay to the refined dynasty and introduction of Race for the Heisman mode (aka Road to Glory), NCAA Football 2006 has a special place in the hearts of fans of the series.

Unlike today's somewhat sloppy approach to the career mode, NCAA 06 allowed you to control your player's entire team instead of just an individual player. The result was complete ownership over the team, and the ability to dictate a specific player's involvement rather than relying on a poorly programmed CPU coach. Even better was that after you graduated, your player could become a head coach of a smaller program -- a seamless transition into the game's incredibly deep Dynasty mode.

1. NCAA Football 2004 (PS2)

Simply put, NCAA Football 2004 was the deepest, most addictive football title I have ever played in my life. I dumped hours into the game's College Classics mode, re-creating some of the most unbelievable moments in collge football history, and I played 20-plus seasons of Dynasty mode.

It's hard to put my finger on exactly what made the game so unbelievable, but the word balance often comes to mind. Offense and defense were perfectly tweaked in the game, allowing you to build teams around either side of the ball, and everything from recruiting in Dynasty mode to establishing new rivalries with improving CPU teams made you feel completely immersed in a college football program. Presentation was no slouch in NCAA 04 either, and I will never forget the endless number of Sports Illustrated covers I'd flip through, aspiring to have my team featured every week. Oh, and did I mention NCAA 04 was the first in the series to include online play on PS2?

Final Thoughts

As a college football fanatic, I feel lucky to have played so many great games to date representing the sport. With NCAA Football 12 shaping up nicely -- I had a ton of fun playing it at E3 -- this year should be another great one for the series.

Did your favorite make the list? Be sure to rank your favorites in the comments below.

Christian McLeod is a senior staff writer here at Operation Sports, and resident NCAA Football master. With him and his wife expecting their first child any day now, Christian is strategically working on a plan to smuggle his Xbox into the hospital as to not miss out on the NCAA 12 demo (Ed. note: Christian had a healthy baby boy! Clearly the kid knew that first impressions are everything.) Make sure to follow him on Twitter @Bumble14_OS, talk to him on our forums via Bumble14, or challenge him on XBL/PSN via Bumble14.

NCAA Football 12 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 NoDakHusker @ 06/28/11 11:42 AM
I fully agree with this list, quite a blast from the past a few of those are.
Good read!
# 2 druez @ 06/28/11 11:43 AM
I like the idea of having two seperate modes. Road to Glory should only allow you to control your player and not the whole team. It is you playing a "role" on a team. I have full blown dynasty mode if I want to controll everything and everybody.

I think its good to have both approaches to the game.

BTW Congrats on your boy!!!! Baby = less gametime. I know this.
# 3 Retropyro @ 06/28/11 12:14 PM
I really do miss the ability to have your Road to Glory player move on to become a coach in your dynasty. I don't understand why that was removed.
# 4 TDenverFan @ 06/28/11 12:21 PM
I wish I'd tried NCAA 04 and 06, instead I got Madden... Oh well...
# 5 robbiedizzle @ 06/28/11 01:00 PM
I also was obsessed with getting my team on those mags. I miss that.
# 6 acts238shaun @ 06/28/11 01:17 PM
My fav last gen was NCAA07...besides hat this list is spot on!
# 7 sportzbro @ 06/28/11 01:20 PM
Quit making me miss my old xbox, Chase.

Its really a toss up between 06 & 04. I remember sitting on 04 for three days straight playing a dynasty with minimal food & no shower lol (I was around 14 I think). Probably played 400-500 user games until 05 came out.

06 is my all-time favorite though. It just had everything to keep me playing... the best gameplay, presentation, and a FULL dynasty mode (SI, heisman presentation, simple recruiting, etc.). Sadly, I don't think the series will be that good for a loooooong time.
# 8 sportznut02 @ 06/28/11 01:26 PM
Great list I would not change a single thing on the top 5. I have had every game in this series stating back to Bill Walsh`s College Football.
# 9 illwill10 @ 06/28/11 01:34 PM
This is making me my Ps2. I either hid it perfectly(I had to or they would mess with it) or it got stolen. I remember letting my cousin play it and they saved over a game I was like 10 missions away from beating it(GTA 3). I was pissed, I stopped playin it. I still look for it sometimes.
There are some games I want to play again. I never played Dynasty in NCAA
# 10 bigdoc85 @ 06/28/11 02:08 PM
All the more reason to keep that PS2 around.
# 11 GrnEyedBanditTN @ 06/28/11 02:21 PM
I still own 04 and 07... I have the original 60GB PS3 and can still play them. 07 was my last PS2 purchase. 04 is special to me because it was the last year the school (East TN State U aka ETSU) I played at had football. I wore people out w/ Tenn on 99. Also rocked w/ Memphis because of my Cousin playing WR there at the time.
# 12 coogrfan @ 06/28/11 02:26 PM
What, no NCAA 2005?
# 13 ryan @ 06/28/11 02:30 PM
I liked NCAA 2000 as that was the first time I saw FCS teams on there WITH their own stadiums coupled with neutral site stadium

game play was cheesy and recruiting was spotty but it felt like something....

Next Gen was never kind to FCS outside of a few fight songs
# 14 DoomsDayD1978 @ 06/28/11 02:35 PM
2004 was great! Definitely no complaints with it being #1 on the list. My fondest memory of 04 was being ranked #2 online 51-4 after the first month behind a guy who was 58-0. This was long before random online play was a worthless waste of time due to all the glitchery and cheese. You could play almost anyone randomly and get a good game in. That alone, led to countless hours of online play.
(Sidenote: I remember the guy who was ranked #1, got caught by EA for having 2 PS2's...lol)
# 15 Mike Smoove @ 06/28/11 02:52 PM
06 was my favorite, me and friends would play that all night. We each would take control of a team and do a dynasty.
# 16 xITSxDAWKINSx @ 06/28/11 04:31 PM
06 for me hands down
# 17 BeaverBeliever97267 @ 06/28/11 05:42 PM
Yeah, it was a a real drag when many of the features in 06 were removed for the "next-gen" consoles. I remember feeling real disappoint when I got the first NCAA game for the 360...
# 18 LouPickney @ 06/28/11 06:02 PM
Good list -- some of the late-run titles for the PS2 were fantastic. Obviously the PS3/XBox 360 games look better graphically, but it has taken some time for them to catch up to the PS2 engine as far as some of the most subtle (but nonetheless important) things go.

My only major beef with NCAA Football 11 is the redoing of the playcalling screen; I preferred what they had in NCAA 10 over 11 considerably in that regard. Though, to be sure, that's more than a fair trade for the removal of Lee Corso from color commentary along with his inane comments that repeated themselves year after year in the series.

It's a shame that EA Sports was strong-armed into removing the 16 team playoff system from the game; that was a great perk for the circa late '90s college football titles. Perhaps someday it will be a reality for both real college football and (again) for its video game counterpart.
# 19 scottyo60 @ 06/28/11 06:05 PM
the best is reading 108 D1(A) teams from 1996 lol can we please send the MAC, Sun Belt and half the C-USA back to 1-AA or the FCS as it's now called... Yes sadly I'm looking at my Marshall U. while saying this statement.

Great list overall loved 06!
# 20 MFarrer74 @ 06/28/11 06:06 PM
NCAA Football 06 for Xbox was the best one for me personally. I still can picture the Desmond Howard Heisman pose on the cover.

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