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EA Sports’ College Football 25 drinks the Deion Sanders Kool-Aid

BOULDER, CO – SEPTEMBER 16: Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Travis Hunter (12) warms up before the Rocky Mountain Showdown against the CSU Rams at Folsom Field on September 16, 2023. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Your loyal friends from the Grading The Week crew are gamers and, let’s be honest, they have a love affair with EA Sports that stretches back four decades. (Tom Chambers’ “Fake Drive 2-Hand Slam” in “Bulls vs. Lakers” is still the most entertaining and unstoppable SEGA basketball move known to man, no matter what “NBA Jam” fans say.)

But our top staffers were more than a little confused to learn during the social reveals for EA Sports College Football 25, out July 19, that the eighth-highest-ranked offense in the popular video game — ahead of Clemson, Penn State, Ole Miss, Arizona, Notre Dame, Florida State and Oklahoma — was … your CU Buffs.

Which, on the one hand, we kind of understand. Two-Way Buffs star Travis Hunter is one of EA’s cover athletes, and we’d bet our college roommate’s old Genesis that he’ll be among the three or four highest-rated individual players in the new game. And rightfully so. The same goes for quarterback Shedeur Sanders.

Star players in EA games don’t just sell units, they also influence team ratings – albeit sometimes to, shall we say, unrealistic levels. Anyone who tells you they know for sure how CU’s dozens of new transfers will fit together behind Shedeur and Hunter, especially on the brand new offensive line, is probably already drunk on the Deion Kool-Aid.

EA Sports and the Coach Prime Kool-Aid – C

Well, apparently the smart guys who do the player ratings for Electronic Arts are also drinking some of this Kool-Aid.

That would at least explain why the Buffs, whose over-under rating is estimated at 5.5 wins by the bookmakers in Las Vegas, not only have the number 8 offensive team in the country with a rating of 89 out of 100 according to EA Sports, but also the number 20 defensive team (!) with a rating of 84 out of 100.

And to top it off, the 20th highest rated squad overall (!!) with an 84. Context: That last number is the same as Oklahoma State and Kansas State, two of the preseason’s top picks to win the revamped Big 12, and on the same level (84) as Texas A&M, LSU and Florida.

So, yeah. No pressure, Pat Shurmur. No pressure at all.

Buffs in the NBA Draft — A

Tad Boyle may not have had three first-round picks in a single NBA Draft, but he came pretty darn close. Former CU point guard KJ Simpson ended up being taken 42nd by Charlotte on Thursday after 12 selections in the second round.

After rookie winger Cody Williams went to Utah with the No. 10 pick and forward Tristan da Silva was taken by Orlando with the No. 18 pick, the Buffs had three players in one draft for the first time since 1981.

The trio joins the likes of Derrick White, Alec Burks and Spencer Dinwiddie in expanding CU’s talent pool to the pros and bolstering Boyle’s reputation as a finder and developer of NBA talent. Although…

No Sweet 16 for the Buffs — D

… Team GTW also received several letters this past week asking how a CU team with so much talent managed to lose 11 games last winter and miss the Sweet 16, the pinnacle of CU men’s basketball during the otherwise outstanding Boyle era.

We’d counter that this is technically the first time the Buffs have won two NCAA Tournament games in the same postseason period since 1955, and yes, wins in the First Four — one of them against fellow No. 10 seed Boise State — definitely count.

Which technically still isn’t a ticket to the Sweet 16. We get that. And it’s probably not unfair to say that one of Boyle’s most talented squads in Boulder underperformed, even though injuries ruined Williams’ lone season at CU. Boyle admitted before the Big Dance that not reaching the NCAA Tournament would have been one of his biggest disappointments as CU coach.

Fortunately, the Buffs made it across the finish line and looked good crashing the party. Simpson’s wild, running buzzer-beater that eliminated Florida will go down as one of the greatest hits in Buffs history, and CU challenged second-seeded Marquette in the round of 32. So no shame there. Although CU is diving into a much, much tougher division in the Big 12, Boyle will need his NBA alumni club to help more Talents coming to the Event Center. And soon.

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