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Florida State/Miami Week: NCAA Football EA Sports Edition

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Rating the Starters for Saturday’s Rivalry Game

What if there was still an NCAA Football video game?
Mike Meredith / State of the U

Do you remember the EA Sports NCAA Football video game series for Xbox and PlayStation? It was a big deal in college football circles up until 2014, when Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit against the NCAA came to fruition. Basically, O’Bannon filed an epic lawsuit and we lost an amazing video game franchise as a result. Thanks, Ed!

NCAA Football’s player rankings were almost always spot on and are similar but different to an NFL counterpart, Madden. Madden rankings are wee bit stricter. If someone is a 99 in college, he might start off as a late 70s or early 80s in the NFL. Here’s how I rated the starters for Miami and Florida State. These rankings are ultimately similar, indicating a small talent gap, except for two very important positional groups - quarterback and defensive secondary.

Of note, these rankings are not considered someone’s max potential. Just of where they are right now.

  • 70 to 79 – average (usually freshman or long-term backups)
  • 80 to 85 – solid starters
  • 86 to 92 – potential All-Conference players
  • 93 to 99 – gems, All-Americans

In 2017’s offseason, hype surrounding FSU required a Madden ranking comparison. But FSU is now 1 and 2, with inherant roster holes, as well as injuries. Miami is sitting pretty at 3 and 0 and looks quite strong.

Entering week 5, which team is rated higher?

Quarterback

Miami: Malik Rosier (85)

Florida State: James Blackman (76)

Miami fans want a mistake free affair. Rosier can provide that type of game. His counterpart, Blackman, has a strong arm, decent mobility, and accuracy, but his football IQ isn’t anywhere near Rosier’s. In NCAA Football or Madden, football smarts, also known as awareness, often determined a player’s ranking, especially at qb. Blackman would be rated generously at 76 overall with very low awareness, like in the 50s. I’d put Rosier’s awareness at a steady 80, since he’s more experienced and much wiser. Will Blackman be a Heisman Trophy candidate one day? Sure. Not exactly in 2017. Incidentally, if Deandre Francois was still with us, he’d easily be an 89. A steady, all-conference player who’s through the roof ceiling was halted after an ugly injury against Alabama. There’s a monumental drop off between FSU’s best offensive player and Blackman, a raw true freshman thrown to the wolves because of impossible circumstances.

Edge: Miami

Running Back

Miami: Mark Walton (93), Travis Homer (82)

Florida State: Jacques Patrick (84), Cam Akers (83)

Miami’s defense has given up chunks of yardage so far to both Duke and Toledo. When the defense breaks down, it doesn’t matter who’s lining up behind Blackman. Though Patrick rushed for over 100 yards against Wake Forest. Conversely, Miami may have trouble running the ball because of Walton’s lingering ankle injury. With no bye week to heal up, I expect Walton’s ankle to be an ongoing issue.

Edge: Miami

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Miami: Braxton Berrios (85), Chris Herndon (87), Ahmmon Richards (88)

Florida State: Auden Tate (86) George Campbell (84), Ryan Izzo (82)

FSU boasts decent receivers, but how good FSU can be will depend on Blackman’s play. They lack a true go-to receiver like Miami’s Richards. In watching the Wake Forest affair, the Demon Deacons had FSU dead to rights a few times, but gave up back-breaking pass plays. If Miami can keep everything in front of them, Miami can win. Wake Forest was a team filled with far less talent and nearly upset FSU.

Edge: Miami by a hair

Offensive Line

Miami: KC McDermott (86), Trevor Darling (87), Tyler Gauthier (84), Navaughn Donaldson (84), Tyree St Louis (84)

Florida State: Derrick Kelly (85), Landon Dickerson (84), Alec Eberle (85), Cole Minshew (82), Rick Leonard (84)

Miami and FSU are evenly split among offensive line starters. FSU’s offensive line allowed Blackman and Francois to get beaten down. Those types of hits, one of which ended Francois season, have not been surrendered thus far in Miami’s season. Edge narrowly goes to Miami because its line hasn’t lost a quarterback for the year. Also, don’t sleep on Miami’s Donaldson. He’s going to become an All-American candidate by his junior and senior years. I contrastingly pegged FSU’s youngest lineman, Minshew, as a mid-80s rating max potential.

Edge: Miami by a hair

Defensive Line

Miami: Chad Thomas (92), Kendrick Norton (90), RJ McIntosh (89), Joseph Jackson (85)

Florida State: Brian Burns (87), Demarcus Christmas (86), Derrick Nnadi (89)

I like both defensive lines. Nnadi and Christmas eat up space across the line. Burns came to FSU as a five-star recruit, and he accumulated 8.5 sacks last year as a freshman. Thomas, Norton, and McIntosh are solid NFL prospects. Jackson is a budding beast and has a similar trajectory as Burns. After FSU’s offensive line gave up 5 sacks to Wake Forest, and a crazy 11 sacks so far through 3 games, I am expecting Miami to harass Blackman all afternoon.

Edge: Split

Linebacker

Miami: Shaq Quarterman (88), Michael Pinckney (85), Zach McCloud (84)

Florida State: Matthew Thomas (94), Jacob Pugh (89), Josh Sweat (90)

Miami boasts better long-term talent with Shaq, Pinck, and McCloud only in their sophomore years. This trio at Miami will fight in 2017 for ALL-ACC honors against FSU’s tandem of Thomas, Pugh, and Sweat. Thomas especially plays quick and has at times looked unblockable when he rushes the QB (he accumulated 2 sacks against Wake Forest). Pugh is a steady presence and Sweat used to be a five-star recruit. Talent is palpable for both teams.

Edge: Split

Secondary

Miami: Dee Delaney (87), Malik Young (84), Jaquan Johnson (86), Sheldrick Redwine (84)

Florida State: Tarvarus McFadden (97), Derwin James (99), Levonta Taylor (86), Trey Marshall (88)

McFadden and James will be first round picks in 2018. Bank on it. Trey Marshall is a very experienced safety. Taylor is another five star product out of high school. Miami’s DB’s are solid but lack a superstar. Delaney was supposed to be amazing, but he’s struggled, though he performed solidly at Duke. If FSU fielded a better quarterback option, their advantage in the secondary might decide Saturday’s game. Stop Mark Walton. Force Rosier to throw. Bad recipe for Miami. Problem is that FSU is weak at quarterback. A pertinent question becomes, which secondary, Miami or FSU, forces an opposing quarterback to make mistakes? That is how I will watch Miami/FSU.

Edge: FSU

Special Teams Kickers

Miami: Michael Badgley (89)

Florida State: Ricky Aguayo (84)

Aguayo will likely form into an amazing kicker as he gets older. Today, he is a young promising kicker who doesn’t possess as many pressure moment experiences as Jersey Mike. If FSU has to kick a game winning field goal, that may bode well for Miami.

Edge: Miami

Watch Saturday’s game using these rankings. Focus on each team’s defensive backs and quarterback play. For the first time in years Miami is an equal to FSU in terms of starter talent (and is better in a lot of ways). Nothing beats Miami/FSU! Don’t agree with my rankings? Chime in!