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Virtual football kicks off tomorrow with NCAA 09

Fall practice may still be three weeks away, but for many college football fans, the season begins tomorrow with the release of EA Sports' NCAA Football 09. And by "college football fans," we mean "geeky guys."

The release of NCAA has become an annual sign that the long, boring, football-less summer is almost over. Now, instead of playing out the Boise State season in our heads and with our M&M's, we can plug NCAA 09 into our PS3 and watch the whole thing unfold before us. (Full disclosure: we do not own a PlayStation 3. We own a Gamecube.)

For Bronco fans, the game may be a little less exciting than last year's Jared Zabransky version. Unfortunately, the Marty Tadman cover idea we submitted did not fly with EA Sports. However, there are still more than enough reasons to buy the game.

  • Kill time before August 30.

  • Have your own quarterback competition.

  • Take as many tries as you need to beat Oregon in Autzen stadium.

  • Prove that Fresno State is overrated.

There's a lot of information on the game available on the Internet (the entire Bronco playbook is here; eyes off, Akey!), and the early reviews have been excellent. Each year EA seems to improve from the previous version, and this year appears to be no different. Of course, what would an EA Sports video game be without loads of new features? NCAA 09 sure has plenty of upgrades.

  • Online Dynasty Mode. Up to 12 players can compete with one another online in dynasties that can last as long as 60 years. With features like this, who needs girlfriends? Til death do we part, NCAA 09.

  • Break Away Animation engine. Apparently, you will have more control than ever over the movements of the players. Want Ian Johnson to spin away from a tackle? Just rotate the control stick. Want Kellen Moore to sidestep a defensive end? Wiggle the analog to the left. Need to help a freshman with a midterm? Use the controller as a pen (feature available only on Wii).

  • Composure. Have you ever seen a quarterback lose confidence after an interception? Of course you have! Boise State plays in the WAC! Well, NCAA 09 will take advantage of this real-life phenomenon by testing the composure of in-game players. Throw a pick-six, and you'll have to read the defensive photos to see where you went wrong. If you can't figure it out, then you must be playing with Nathan Enderle.

  • Celebration mechanic. The Syracuse Orange wants to party! In NCAA 09, you can celebrate touchdowns with mascots, fans, or yourself with just a push of a button. Take that, NFL!

  • Realistic lighting. The graphics engine has been souped-up to provide a more accurate rendering of time-of-day. This will come in handy for those 9:00am San Jose State home games.

  • 60 frames per second. We don't know what this means (see "Gamecube," above).

A new play-calling system, customizable music, and much more will be included in the game. But our favorite feature of the NCAA series, more so than the unique stadiums, the crowd influence, the rankings, and the option, is the fact that you can end the season with a playoff if you want to.

That is reason enough to buy the game right there.

NCAA Football 09 [EA Sports]