NCAA Football 14 has returned, bringing another year of stellar college football video game action to the masses.  EA Sports filled this year's edition with a number of cool features, including a new recruiting system, the ability to level up your coach with new skills and Ultimate Team cards you can add to your personal deck.  There are also gameplay enhancements, including being able to recover from a stumble and other small tweaks that will make your trip to the end zone much sweeter.

As expected, online play is back in NCAA 14, meaning you can get online and challenge friends and other players of all skill levels. Before you jump in, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind that will help you earn more victories.

Use these tips to punish online opponents.

-You might have seen from the other day that we provided two additional NCAA Football 14 guides.  The NCAA Football 14 Beginner’s Tips will help you get the hang of both offensive and defensive play styles, along with some help from the Nike Skills Trainer.  In addition, you'll also want to look over our 10 Best Teams For Newcomers, which points out some of the ultimate power players available.  Obviously, newbies will want to start with someone unbeatable, like the BCS Champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Smaller teams can work to your advantage as well, but until you boost up your skill set, a champion squad is the way to go.

-The online play option is located right on the main menu, indicated by a small Wi-Fi symbol highlighted in red. Once you click it, you'll be taken to a number of options – Join Match, Lobby, Create Match and Leaderboards.  

Create Match speaks for itself, allowing you to create a custom game and then invite a friend to join you.  

Lobby allows you to hang out in a virtual room, seeking players of a similar skill level – or higher if you're up for the challenge – and ultimately throwing down against them virtually on the field.

Leaderboards divide up the best NCAA records across three different categories – regular leaderboards, Road To Glory Varsity Leaderboards and Road To Glory Heisman Leaderboards.  In the latter two, you'll find some true championship players, those devoted to nailing down pass and run plays.  Be careful when you challenge these guys – they mean serious business.  Regular leaderboards offer more variety in terms of skill levels, so you're probably better off coasting through those first.  Keep an eye open for overall points – highlighted as "pts" – current skill level, wins and losses.  You can sort them by category if need be.

Finally, Join Match. Here you can sort what kind of quick match you're looking for, adjusting via game type – Ranked or Unranked – as well as Did Not Finish percentage – a higher count means you've got a quitter on your hands – and skill level.  Rookies are better off starting on one of the lower levels. After you've played for a while, though, feel free to bump your way up to Varsity or even Heisman.

Online searches don't take too long, but traffic is likely to pick up as the week goes on, with more people buying the game.

-Once you're at the team select screen, keep a close eye on the team your opponent selects. You can see how they rank across three categories – Overall, Offense and Defense. Say for instance your opponent chooses the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, which rank as 83, 83 and 85 across the board.  You'll want to find a team with the same numbers – or better – in order to make it a contest. One of our top 10 recommended teams will easily fit the bill, but feel free to browse and see how your local team fares as well.  

-After getting accustomed to the style of play in NCAA Football 14, you can step up your game with the Head-To-Head Seasons mode.  Here you'll be able to create a 10-game season with increasing levels of competition against other players.  Beating them not only helps your win record, but also unlocks Ultimate Team cards that you can add to your team.  Nothing beats a college level Peyton Manning.

-As far as the other competitive aspects of the game – Recruiting and other parts of the Dynasty Mode – take your time easing into them.  NCAA Football 14's experience grows with the investment you put into it, earning you additional points to enhance your chances of landing key prospects.  In addition, you're able to increase the skills of your coach, making him more formidable when you take him and your squad against rivals online.  Take your time getting accustomed to the other modes.  After all, you've got a long wait until NCAA Football 15.

-Finally, don't forget to have fun with your games.  Even if you lose, don't quit the game so hastily, as your Did Not Finish track record is accessible for everyone.  Take your losses, then see what you can improve upon as you go into the next contest.  You can also adjust your skill level should the going get a little too rough. Remember – no college football team stays perfect forever.  Everyone loses sometime.  It's all part of the experience. 

NCAA Football 14 is available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.