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College Football 25: Return to Glory


Kennesaw State Owls
© Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of college football gaming are eagerly counting down the days to July with the highly anticipated release of EA Sports College Football 25, sparking a wave of excitement across gaming communities.



The return of the beloved franchise is set to bring back cherished features like the iconic “Dynasty Mode.” A promise to enthusiasts for a deep and immersive experience. With the option to steer their favorite college programs to victory or embark on challenging journeys with teams like SMU, Kennesaw State, or Kent State. Players are poised to immerse themselves in the thrill of college football gaming once again.


Who will you lead to glory?


The Rise and Fall of SMU Football

In the annals of college football history with legendary figures like Doak Walker, whose name still echoes in the halls of football greatness, few stories are as captivating and tragic as that of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Mustangs. In the early 1980s, SMU stood tall as a powerhouse, boasting back-to-back Division 1 National Championships in 1981 and 1982. Southern Methodist seemed destined for eternal glory.


Doak Walker, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and former SMU Mustang running back was not just a local hero but a national icon. His accolades, including the prestigious Heisman Trophy in 1948, solidified his place in football lore. The Cotton Bowl Stadium, often referred to as “The House That Doak Built,” stands as a testament to his enduring legacy.





Yet, amid triumph and adulation, shadows lurked. Reports surfaced in 1986 of SMU players receiving illicit payments from boosters, a violation that shook the foundation of college athletics. The NCAA launched an investigation, and in 1987, delivered its harshest punishment: the “death penalty.”


The death penalty was more than just a sanction; it was a cataclysm that dismantled SMU’s football program. Stripped of scholarships, banned from competition, and marred by scandal, the once-mighty Mustangs fell from grace. The ripple effects reverberated beyond the gridiron, tearing at the seams of the Southwest Conference.


In the aftermath, SMU languished in the abyss of irrelevance. When football returned in 1989, SMU, was a mere shell of its former self. The glory days became distant memories as the Mustangs struggled to regain their footing in a landscape forever altered by the NCAA’s verdict.



SMU QB Preston Stone
© SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK


As the Southwest Conference dissolved, SMU faced a new era of uncertainty. Relegated to conferences like the WAC, Conference USA, and even the ill-fated Big East, the road to redemption proved elusive. Each rebirth brought fleeting hope, only to be dashed by the harsh realities of college football’s unforgiving terrain.



The saga of SMU Football serves as a cautionary tale, a stark reminder of the perils of unchecked ambition and the consequences of betrayal. Yet, amid the ruins, echoes of resilience endure. The spirit of Doak Walker lives on, a beacon of hope for a program seeking redemption amidst the wreckage of its past.


As the sun sets on another chapter in college football history, the story of SMU remains a testament to the enduring power of the game. Though scars may run deep, the heart of Mustang beats on, yearning for the day when glory will once again grace the hallowed grounds of Southern Methodist University.


Summary: The Return to Glory Pick


The Rise of Kennesaw State Football

In March 2013, Brian Bohannon received a call that would change the course of his career and the landscape of college football in Georgia. Tasked with building a football program from the ground up, Bohannon seized the opportunity with unwavering determination.


Situated in the heart of metro Atlanta, Kennesaw State University boasted fertile recruiting grounds and the infrastructure necessary to support a burgeoning football program. With an 8,300-seat stadium and state-of-the-art facilities, the stage was set for Bohannon to leave his mark on the gridiron.



KSU QB Xavier Shepherd vs Cincinnati
© Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK


For Bohannon, the decision to lead the Owls was a “no-brainer.” With a storied coaching career that included stints at Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, and Navy, he was well-equipped to take on the challenge. Under the mentorship of College Football Hall of Fame coach Paul Johnson, Bohannon honed his craft and prepared for the next chapter in his journey.


Since assuming the helm, Bohannon has orchestrated a remarkable transformation, turning Kennesaw State into the winningest startup program in college football history. With three conference championships and numerous accolades to their name, the Owls have emerged as a force to be reckoned with on the national stage.





Bohannon’s commitment to building a winning culture extends beyond the gridiron. Under his leadership, Kennesaw State football players have excelled both on and off the field, earning All-America honors and garnering recognition for their academic achievements.


As the Owls prepare to make the leap to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of Division I athletics, Bohannon sees the transition as the next logical step in the program’s evolution. Joining Conference USA in July 2024, Kennesaw State will face off against established programs across the Southeast, raising the stakes and amplifying the spotlight on the team.



With eyes set on the future, Bohannon envisions a decade of continued success for Kennesaw State football. As the program garners national attention and competes on the grandest stage, Bohannon’s vision of making KSU a household name is well within reach. As the next chapter unfolds, the story of Kennesaw State football stands as a testament to the power of perseverance, passion, and the pursuit of excellence.


Summary: The Fresh Fish Pick


The Growing Pains of Kent State Football

As the dust settles on another challenging season, the Kent State Golden Flashes find themselves navigating uncharted waters in the ever-evolving landscape of college football. With a new head coach at the helm and a roster filled with fresh faces, the team is in the midst of a transformative journey marked by both struggles and glimpses of promise.


The statistics may not paint the rosiest picture, but behind the numbers lies a story of resilience and determination. With just two returning starters and a roster dominated by underclassmen, including three true freshmen on the offensive line, the Golden Flashes are among the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the nation.



Kent State players celebrating in the first half
© Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK


Yet, amid the adversity, there are signs of hope. Breakout performances from a few underclassmen offer a glimpse into the team’s potential, showcasing the talent and tenacity that will shape the future of Kent State football. While wins may be scarce and championships seem distant, the foundation for success is being laid brick by brick.


In the crucible of competition, chemistry is forged, and the Golden Flashes are no exception. Though still in the early stages of their journey, there are no quarrels among teammates, only a shared commitment to growth and improvement. As they continue to gel on the field, the bonds of camaraderie will strengthen, paving the way for future triumphs.



For Kent State, the road ahead may be fraught with challenges, but the destination remains clear: a team poised to compete at the highest level of college football. While immediate success may elude them, the process of building a championship-caliber team is not measured in wins and losses alone. It is a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and unwavering dedication to a shared vision.



As the season unfolds and the Golden Flashes continue to navigate the highs and lows of collegiate athletics, one thing is certain: the best is yet to come. With each game, each practice, and each passing day, Kent State moves one step closer to realizing its full potential. Wins, championships, and other successes may be on the horizon, but for now, the focus remains on laying the groundwork for a bright and prosperous future.


Summary: The Underdawg Pick


They’re in College Football 25

In the tumultuous world of college football, the stories of SMU's rise and fall, Kennesaw State's ascension, and Kent State's rebuilding efforts paint a vivid tapestry of triumphs, challenges, and resilience. From the heights of national championships to the depths of NCAA sanctions, SMU's journey serves as a cautionary tale of the consequences of unchecked ambition. In contrast, Kennesaw State's meteoric rise under Brian Bohannon's leadership exemplifies the power of vision, determination, and unwavering commitment to excellence. As for Kent State, their struggles in the face of adversity speak to the inherent challenges of building a competitive program from the ground up.


J.J. McCarthy National Champion
© Melanie Maxwell / USA TODAY NETWORK

Yet, amid the trials and tribulations, there remains a common thread of hope—a belief in the transformative power of collegiate athletics to shape lives, inspire communities, and forge lasting legacies. As these teams chart their respective paths forward, one thing is clear: the journey is far from over, and the best is yet to come.









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