Who is on the cover of EA Sports? Can Iowa State bounce back?


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Until Saturday Newsletter 🏈 | It is AthleticismThe College Football Newsletter. register here to receive Until Saturday directly in your mailbox.

Today we look at which QBs have the most to prove in 2024 and your picks for the Big 12 dark horse.

But first… video game news!

It just happened!

EA Sports College Football 25 Coverage

It’s official. EA Sports has officially revealed the cover art for its upcoming video game College Football 25, which is scheduled for release on July 19. Drum roll, please…

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Texas QB Quinn Ewers, left, Colorado WR/DB Travis Hunter and Michigan RB Donovan Edwards grace the cover of EA Sports. (Courtesy of EA Sports)

Texas QB Quinn Ewers, Colorado WR/DBTravis Hunter And Donovan Edwards, Michigan running back are the three cover athletes. The Deluxe Edition cover, which was leaked last week, includes Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe, Georgia QB Carson Beck And Quinshon Judkins, Ohio State running back with a bullet over the shoulder.

The most notable part of the covers is that they feature active players for the first time in the series’ history, thanks to name, image and likeness rules. Previously, the cover could only feature players who had completed their eligibility or former legends, including Charles Woodson (1999), Desmond Howard (2006), Reggie Bush (2007), Tim Tebow (2011) and Dennis Robinson during the game’s final year before a hiatus (2014), brought on by the former lack of NIL rules in college sports.

I like the direction EA Sports has taken with the new cover. It was important to introduce the current players as this will be an aspect of the game we have never seen before. College players from all 134 FBS teams had the opportunity to participate in the game, and those who did so will receive $600 and a copy of the game (valued at $70). This selection of cover athletes highlights three players with three unique skillsets. Plus, as Chris Vannini reported today, all three have memories of playing the game.

Stay tuned for the full game reveal on Friday!

The 12 great black horses

It’s Iowa State’s time to shine

In Tuesday’s newsletter, I asked readers to vote for which program they would choose as the Big 12 dark horse in 2024. Here are the results:

Responses were limited to teams outside of the top four favorites to win the conference. By BetMGM oddsthose teams are Kansas State, Utah, Kansas and Arizona.

Now let’s take a look at the top picks for the conference’s dark horse.

Iowa State: The Cyclones’ big advantage is that they bring in the highest production in the country (86 percent, per Bill Connelly (ESPN). AthleticismScott Dochterman’s Scott Dochterman detailed Iowa State’s next window of opportunity in a story worth reading today. The foundation appears to be there to allow the ISU to enter in 2024. All that remains is to avoid any recession.

Why readers chose the Cyclones: “Rocco Becht is by far the most undervalued QB in CFB despite having a fantastic first year. Matt Campbell has taken some licks but remains an incredible coach who once took a team to the Big 12 championship. All the pieces are there. They just need to put everything together.

West Virginia: Neal Brown had his first winning season in Morgantown just when he needed it last year. The Mountaineers return plenty of production from that nine-win team, including dual-threat QB Garrett Greene. The Mountaineers have a busy schedule, but they will face many of their toughest opponents at home, and fans seem to think they can get off to a good start with a big win in Week 1.

Why readers chose the Mountaineers: “A ton of returns, especially on the O-line. I plugged a lot of holes on defense. I’m not sure if this will come to fruition, but if everything goes well. Attention.”

“West Virginia beating Penn State (in Week 1) and then going 6-6 and winning Penn State CV 9-3 in the playoffs will be the least surprising upset of the season.”

Oklahoma State: I saw your responses: “Oklahoma State is not a dark horse. ” That’s a good point. First, the Cowboys return the nation’s best RB in Ollie Gordon II, who had 285 carries for 1,732 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2023. Gordon will play in an offense likely to be led by seventh-year quarterback Alan Bowman. The Cowboys rank just behind Iowa State in returning production (85%).

Why readers chose the Cowboys: “As much as I would love to vote for Texas Tech, many called them a dark horse last year and they failed to deliver on their promises. You can’t argue with OSU’s stability and Gundy’s ability to find a way to win. Gordon’s return should continue to scare opponents.

“OSU should not be a dark horse but must prove they are the beneficiary of OU and UT leaving for the SEC.”

2025 NFL Draft QB

Top prospects, plus one who could advance

After all these months of speculation about the 2024 class of QBs, six – Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr., JJ McCarthy and Bo Nix – were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. There were even a few surprises in this group, with Penix edging McCarthy and Nix not advancing to a later round. So, what if we turn the page towards 2025?

Danish Brugler, AthleticismThe NFL Draft analyst has three QBs in the first round of his early 2025 mock draft: Beck second, Ewers at No. 14 and Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders at No. 22. Do people in academia agree? Insider Bruce Feldman sat down with the coaches to break down these three QBs, plus a few others who could be on draft boards if they have a big year.

  • Beck: I still feel like we don’t know much about Beck and I don’t know why. He excelled in his first season as a starter, completing 72 percent of his passes for 3,941 yards with a TD/INT ratio of 24-6. A veteran SEC coordinator told Bruce he thought Beck “would be the No. 1 overall pick,” while a DC from a Top 25 team said Beck “throws a better ball in depth than Jayden Daniels”.
  • Ewers: Formerly the highest-rated QB prospect ever rated by online recruiting services, Ewers still has plenty to prove in 2024. He had big weapons in Xavier Worthy and AD Mitchell last season, so it will be eye-opening to see how he will adapt in the future. A DB coach who faced Texas last year said Ewers was “overrated,” while a veteran Big 12 assistant said, “He’s still trying to figure things out.”
  • Sanders: Colorado underperformed as a team last season, but Sanders’ talent was still evident. His offensive line didn’t do him much favors, but he remained fairly consistent with 27 TDs to just three INTs in his first FBS season. “He’s an NFL guy,” a former Pac-12 head coach said. “Is he the first pick in the draft? I don’t know, but I think he’s a real guy.
  • Wild card: Will Howard, Ohio State: The former Kansas State QB has all the help he needs to make this a memorable season in Columbus. “I think he’s going to have a monster year,” one Big 12 defensive coach said.

Quick snaps

In this new era of college football, what is the role of a Agent NIL? Chris Kamrani shares the story.

THE The ACC held its annual spring meetings this week in Amelia Island, Florida. Ah yes, a lovely trip to the Sunshine State with dark clouds of legal drama hanging over inner conversations. How relaxing! AthleticismNicole Auerbach has more.

Nebraska earned a commitment from four-star QB TJ Lateef last week. He is the third Southern California QB to commit to a Big ten program in recent months. Antonio Morales has more on the recruiting trend.

After losing KeAndre Lambert-Smith at the transfer portal, why didn’t he State of Pennsylvania get another WR for 2024? Nittany Lions beat writer Audrey Snyder answers that and more in a mailbag today.

You can buy tickets to all college football games here.

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(Top photo: Courtesy of EA Sports)


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