By Phil Hecken
OK, kids, the second “half” of the Bowl season kicks off today, and I’m back to predict all the winners based on uniform — if you missed Part I, click here. The strategy this year is pretty simple: I’ll use an entire team’s body of work for the season, including multiple helmets, combos, and any special uniforms, to make my pick. What they wear on Bowl day, even if it’s known, won’t affect my pick. Lots of games to get to, so let’s get started (click on any image below to enlarge).
Let’s go bowling…
Military Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech (12/27, 1:00 ET — ESPN)
Spread: Cincy is a 3 point favorite
Cincy mixes and matches black, red and white, including multiple helmets. Va Tech actually was pretty conservative (for them) this year, eschewing all kinds of “Hokie Stone” helmets and the like, making this a difficult pick. I think the Hokies, with their “normal” stripes and beautiful maroon & orange are a slight favorite in the uni battle. Edge: VT
The Pick: Virginia Tech
Hyundai Sun Bowl: ASU vs Duke (12/27, 2:00 pm — CBS)
Spread: ASU is favored by 7 point
Two schools match up here who both particularly enjoy the BFBS. ASU, in what turns out is in its final game with Nike, has become the Oregon of the PAC South, priding itself on never wearing the same combination twice. Duke isn’t much better, and I’m pretty sure they never duplicated a uni either. Each went with a neat throwback helmet once this year. It’s almost a coin-flip here, but in a matchup of Devil vs. Devil (Sun & Blue), I’ll say Duke is heads and ASU is tails (*flips coin* … comes up heads). Edge: Duke
The Pick: Duke
Duck Commander Independence Bowl: Miami (FL) vs. South Carolina (12/27, 3:30 — ABC)
Spread: Miami is a 3.5 point favorite
Shouldn’t Oregon be in this one? I mean, it is the “Duck Commander” Independence Bowl…seems logical. Oh, that’s right, Oregon is in the Playoff. As to this one, Miami got new unis this year, and while it was an improvement over what they replaced, they went overkill. Also, “naming” their uniforms “Juice,” “Surge,” “Smoke,” and “Stormtrooper” does nothing to endear me to them. SC, on the other hand, has been pretty consistent in sticking with their school colors, only breaking out the “blackout” uni for one game (and that was not a great decision). Still, as “sick” “fresh” or whatever Miami’s unis may be, they went too crazy for my liking. Edge: Cocks
The Pick: South Carolina
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College vs. Penn State (12/27, 4:30 — ESPN)
Spread: Boston College is favored by 3
If you’ve read Uni Watch for any period of time, you know I love PSU’s unis, so as good as Boston College looks, there are few teams I’d give the nod over Penn State. It’s too bad, too, because BC would get my pick in probably 90% of their possible matchups, but not this one. Edge: Nittany Lions
The Pick: Penn State
National University Bowl: Nebraska vs. USC (12/27, 8:00 — ESPN)
Spread: So Cal is a 6.5 point favorite
Two teams with storied histories and great uniforms. USC even went a little crazy this year adding a metallic helmet and facemask (*gasps*). But Nebraska, who allows adidas to outfit them in one clownsuit per year, threw any possible edge out the window when they busted out this…thing vs. Illinois. Fail. Edge: Trojans
The Pick: USC
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Texas A&M vs. West Virginia (12/29, 2:00 pm — ESPN)
Spread: WVU is favored by 3 points
The Mountaineers have such beautiful colors, only to ruin everything with that stupid “pick ax” font, or whatever Nike calls it. A&M actually have some nice looking unis, and their 1939 throwback, despite the gimmicky nature (and horrid treadmark jerseys), looked pretty sweet — the helmet especially. It would be tough for WVU to beat anyone in the uni department, and they won’t be today. Edge: Aggies
The Pick: Texas A&M
Russell Athletic Bowl: Clemson vs. Oklahoma (12/29, 5:30 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Oklahoma is a 3 point favorite
If this game were played in any year other than 2014, I’d give Oklahoma the uni edge. But, this year, Oklahoma introduced their Bring the Wood (or something like that) alternates. Yeah, um…no. Clemson has stuck pretty much with just two combos all season, but broke out the all purple and all orange unis for their last two games. It’s still a close call, but the Tiggers get the benefit of the doubt this time around. Edge: Clemson
The Pick: Clemson
AdvoCare Texas Bowl: Arkansas vs. Texas (12/29, 9:00 — ESPN)
Spread: Arkansas is a 6.5 point favorite
Arkansas used to have really shitty uniforms. Not anymore. Now they’re less shitty — in fact, except for the “tusk” type bumperstickers, they’re pretty nice now. But they’re simply no match for Texas, who simply doesn’t mess with their unis (although they did *gasp* add a metallic helmet sticker for a couple games this year — damn near blasphemy in Austin). Only 2 or 3 teams might get an edge with me against Texas, and the Razorbacks ain’t one of them. Hook ’em. Edge: Horns
The Pick: Texas
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Notre Dame vs. LSU (12/30, 3:00 pm, ESPN)
Spread: LSU is favored by 7 points
Notre Dame, in their first year under UnderArmour, fortunately didn’t get the Maryland treatment. But they still got the “pride” type treatment with their Shamrock Series unis. LSU is LSU, and while their purple isn’t my favorite shade, they wear it as a jersey very infrequently. Their gold/white/gold is one of the finest unis in the game, so this one’s an easy call. Edge: Tiggers
The Pick: LSU
Belk Bowl: Georgia vs. Louisville (12/30, 6:30 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Georgia is a 7 point favorite
When it wants to, Louisville can look outstanding. Unfortunately, they can also pull this crap. That would pretty much seal the deal against anyone, but they’re taking on the silver britches of Georgia, who look outstanding. Louisville never had a chance in this matchup. Edge: Dawgs
The Pick: Georgia
Foster Farms Bowl: Maryland vs. Stanford (12/30, 10:00 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Stanford is a 14 point favorite
Maryland used to have the worst uniforms in football, but I have to say, over the past couple of years, they’ve gotten a bit better…still not great, but better. Except for the fact that Stanford loves to go one BFBS game per year, their two (and only two) combos are rock solid. Until Maryland stops trying out-Oregon Oregon, they’ll very rarely get my nod in a matchup. Edge: Cardinal
The Pick: Stanford
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Ole Miss vs TCU (12/31, 12:30 pm — ESPN)
Spread: TCU is a 3.5 point favorite
I really like TCU, and I am kinda bummed they’ll just miss the playoff this year. I’ll definitely be rooting for them in this game. But, uni-wise — nope. Ole Miss has them in just about every way, from helmets to stripes to colors. It’s not even close. Edge: Rebs
The Pick: Ole Miss
Vizio Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona (12/31, 4:00 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Arizona is favored by 3
You’d think this would be a slam dunk for Arizona. I mean, after all, Boise has so much I hate in a uniform going for it: GFGS, BFBS, file folder tab bumperstickers on their orange jerseys…TNOL. Shit, that’s like the quadruple play of things I hate. But Arizona, for whatever reason, manages to make red, white and blue look awful. Gradient numbers still exist too. I’m not sure if the red and blue are just “off” or what, but I really don’t like their look. This is a tough call, but I’ll barely side with the ‘cats. Edge: Arizona
The Pick: Arizona
Capital One Orange Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Georgia Tech (12/31, 8:00 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Mississippi State is a 6.5 point favorite
Miss State, despite falling in love with their “100th Anniversary” pants (and jerseys), still has some pretty good unis, and I actually liked their Egg Bowl unis too. GT, as much as I love their option offense, still has crappy “regular” uniforms. Their throwbacks, however, are gorgeous, and really should become their regular duds. Although this has no bearing, Mississippi State will be wearing white tops, causing the Jackets to wear color tops for the first time all season. I’m not sure if they’ll wear blue, but I don’t think they’ve worn their blue tops in 2 years. So this will be an interesting looking game for sure. Either way, Miss State should win the uni battle. Edge: Mississippi State
The Pick: Mississippi State
Outback Bowl: Auburn vs. Wisconsin (1/1, Noon — ESPN)
Spread: Auburn is a 6 point favorite
The first of the Big Day’s bowls, the first featuring the B1G vs. the SEC, and two teams with very solid unis. Auburn is apparently beyond UA’s creative reach, and this is a very good thing. No alts, no special helmets, no bells and whistles. Sconnie is also staid, but they go a ‘little’ crazy with the red helmet and pants. That’s just enough to tip the scales to the Tiggers. Edge: Auburn
The Pick: Auburn
Goodyear Cotton Bowl: Michigan State vs. Baylor (1/1, 12:30 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Baylor is a 3 point favorite
Baylor’s mix-and-match BFBS, green and gold puts them in the Oregon-copycat category, only they don’t do it nearly as well, whereas Sparty this season stuck with just their green and white. I’ve never been a huge fan of MSU’s template, but against the Bears its no contest. Edge: Sparty
The Pick: Michigan State
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: Minnesota vs. Missouri (1/1 1:00 pm – ABC)
Spread: Missouri is favored by 5 points
If ever there was a game with tremendously awesome color-vs-color potential, it’s this one — both teams have a gorgeous gold alternate top, and either one should wear it as the designated road team if possible. Minnesota has a really nice template now, and Mizzou’s has improved (though they’ll never look as good as this and they still like to toss in their anthracite-for-anthracite’s-sake tops). That’s enough to tip the scales to the Gophs. Edge: Minnie
The Pick: Minnesota
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Florida State (1/1, 4:30 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Oregon is favored by 9 points
The Granddaddy (and first “semi-final” of the new playoff format) features two Nike-clad teams — with FSU having new unis this year. There were a few bumps in their road, when the original tops featured gold numbers that were too difficult to read, and Nike had to scramble to produce the newer white shirts with garnet numbers (also in a new cut). Oregon is…Oregon. Yes, they still have those BFBS and GFGS options, yes, one of the greens is dark and drab. But dammit, I love me some Ducks, and I will lean towards them here. Edge: Ducks
The Pick: Oregon
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Ohio State (1/1, 8:30 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Alabama is a 9 point favorite
The day’s final B1G vs SEC matchup features Brutus and Alabama, and it is no contest. Anyone who knows me knows I will pick ‘bama against any team, so as classic as OSU can look (when they’re not wearing their shiny helmets and “Pro Combat” alts), it wouldn’t make any difference. This will be a good looking game though. Call me Deacon Blues. Edge: Roll Tide
The Pick: Alabama
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs. Pittsburgh (1/2, Noon — ESPN)
Spread: Pitt is a 3 point favorite
After struggling to find a uni-identity the past several years, both teams seemed to have settled upon the ones you see above — Houston mixing a white and red helmet in with a red or white jersey and white pants, and Pitt going gold/blue/gold or gold/white/white. Pitt also added back the fantastic script Pitt helmet towards the end of the season, and now say they’ll stick with that into the future. We can only hope the royal and mustard follows. Even without the script, Pitt had this. Edge: Panthers
The Pick: Pittsburgh
TaxSlayer Bowl: Iowa vs. Tennessee (1/2, 3:20 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Tennessee is favored by 3 points
Normally the bowls the day after New Year’s are pretty good — but with the Playoffs added this year, all the good bowls are before or on NYD, which is nice. I mean — “TaxSlayer Bowl” — WTF even is that? At least it will look pretty — Iowa does the Steelers better than the Steelers, and Tennessee, after flirting with some GFGS last year, wore only 3 different looks all season. In their last year with adidas (UT is moving to swooshie next year), we’ll see if they keep their classic orange/white look going forward with Nike. It’s a tough call on this game, but Hawkeye gets a slight nod. Edge: Iowa
The Pick: Iowa
Valero Alamo Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA (1/2, 6:45 pm — ESPN)
Spread: K-State is a 1.5 point favorite
UCLA once had one of the greatest, most classic unis in the game. Now? adidas has pretty much ruined their once-stellar look. The team for whom “UCLA stripes” (or “loops”) got its name now sports … this. It wasn’t that long ago they at least attempted to replicate their look, but no more. Add to this the “LA Steel” clownsuit, and the team has fallen mightily in the uni ranks. Even if KSU didn’t have a classic uni they never change, UCLA would be hard-pressed to beat anyone in the uni department. This one is a slam-dunk. Edge: ‘cats
The Pick: Kansas State
TicketCity Cactus Bowl: Washington vs. Oklahoma State (1/2, 10:15 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Washington is favored by 5 points
There are few bowls where, if either team could wear it’s choice of color, you could have four or five different games where both of these teams could play and look completely different — and the only time they’d clash is if they both wore black tops. Nike has turned both schools into fashion shows, although they do get it right a couple of times. When UW goes gold/purple/gold, or gold/white/purple, they look great. Anything else is a fail. OSU, with black and orange, can’t really go wrong with any of their looks — unless of course they go GFGS (rare, but still an option). This one is really a toss-up, so I’ll call heads: UW, tails: OSU (flips coin … it comes up tails). Edge: Pistol Pete
The Pick: Oklahoma State
Birmingham Bowl: East Carolina vs. Florida (1/3, Noon — ESPN)
Spread: Florida is a 7 point favorite
ECU is an up-and-coming team, but their unis…woof. I don’t have a problem with purple (at least not the way Paul does), but their shade is not good. Their penchant for BFBS is strong too. Florida is fantastic. They also have an OCD’ers dream for a uni — no matter whether they go orange, blue or white, the striping pattern is ALWAYS orange/blue/white. It’s subtle, because when they wear orange you don’t really notice it as a stripe, but it’s there. Take a look at the sleeve: orange/blue/white, pants too: orange/blue/white. Lovely. Edge: UF
The Pick: Florida
GoDaddy Bowl: Toledo vs. Arkansas State (1/4, 9:00 pm — ESPN)
Spread: Toledo is favored by 3 points
The final bowl before the Championship Game features two teams with great colors: blue & gold and red & black. Yet neither manages to make either look particularly good. Toledo has gotten much better recently, adding somewhat normal sleeve stripes, and toning down what was probably the worst number font in the game. Ark State mixes their three colors up about as well as they can, but never looks like they have a consistent identity (unless they want to be Cincy lite). This is a tough call, but Ark State looks a tad better…barely. Edge: Red Wolves
The Pick: Arkansas State
And there you have it — picking the Bowl winners by better uni. Next weekend I’ll preview (and possibly do a uni history of) the two Playoff Finalists (Alabama or OSU, and Oregon or Florida State). And I’ll recap how I did picking the games by better uni.
U.W.F.F.L. News — Division II Games
By Andrew Seagraves
Happy post-Holiday food coma recovery!
It is Golden Ticket weekend around the UWFFL DII as six squads from across the league are trying to do what they can to get the final passes into the big dance. While those sides are getting ready for the odds to either be in or out of their favor, others will be making preparations to go bowling, and the rest will possibly have to retool themselves as they face Spring D-League competition to stave off dormancy.
The Metro South Conference has its Dance Card full as Charleston (10-2), Missouri (9-2-1), Florida (8-4) and Little Rock (8-4) will be going into the playoffs. Due to tiebreakers not being in their favor, Carolina (7-5) and Greenville (7-5) won’t be able to finish in the top four even with wins and help. Florida won last week to clinch the final berth. Three straight losses after a 7-1 start almost saw the club that almost won it all last year finish on the outside looking in, but the Geckos righted their ship in time and will advance.
The three Canadian units from the Pacific Coast Conference (Calgary, British Columbia, and Yellowknife) have secured spots in part two of the yearly fixture with Las Vegas (8-4) and Salt Lake City (8-4-1) hoping to grab the final spot in the bracket. Pontiac (10-1-1), Dallas (11-2) and Iowa (10-2) are heading on in the Central League to see who will be promoted to the Premiership while Oklahoma City (7-4-1) and Rapid City (7-5) are posturing for the final playoff spot in that league. And finally, St. John’s (7-5) and Swisshelm (5-5-2) are looking to join Staten Island (11-1), Youngstown (11-1) and Toledo (7-4-1) in the post-season out of the Eastern Association.
These final pushes by five of six of these teams are the ones we will focus on for our Games of the Week.
First we’ll head to the Central League as OKC and Rapid City are trying to dig deep to do what they can to get in. For OKC it is win and in. Rapid City, on the other hand, will need a win and a Superbeast loss for a place in the brackets. Oklahoma City will break out a new mono-black set as they host the Duluth Frost Dragons who will debut a white version of their Eskimos throwback. Ninjas versus Stormtroopers… next on History Channel’s “Deadliest Warriors”.
Rapid City is trying to make up for a missed opportunity last season as they fell one game short of the Big League losing to Birmingham in the CL championship. This week they will stick with their throwback interlocking RC sided helmets, white tops with new woodtype uni-numerals and black pants. Chicago who is looking to head into the D-League next season after a fall from Tier I will go with red jerseys over silver pants as they look to help OKC throw the Badlanders off the Playoff trail.
Our next stop will be in the Eastern Conference as St. John’s and Swisshelm will face stiff competition to dance in the extended season. The Express will chug into the Bearcat den to face off against a scrappy Cleveland squad. Swisshelm has spent the last two seasons pushing teams to the brink and want their shot at the top three. They will go mono-white as they take on a Bearcat squad who is nothing to sneeze at. The old-skool Binturongs will go gold over white in their scrap this weekend.
The Pride of the Rock of Canada is trying to do the Maritimes proud by making it to the post season. Though the Stingers have been tough all year, they are going up against a team, like the Bearcats, which can throw a jam into your gears. The Brooklyn Uni Watchers are unfortunatley headed to the D-League next year, but it will be done kicking and screaming. The home Uni Watchers (by the way Paul, those T-Shirts look fantabulous!) are going White over Home Turf Green while the Stingers are breaking out their standard road white over yellow look.
St. John’s will get in with a win or a Swisshelm loss, but if they lose and Swisshelm win, the Express will grab the final spot in the East.
It doesn’t get more exciting than this!
Finally, we’ll head to the Pacific Coast Conference where the two horses in this pony race are the Las Vegas Lightning and the Salt Lake City Spikes. The Spikes are off this week and will need a Las Vegas loss to get in, while Las Vegas has one mantra this time of year:
Las Vegas is going to try and do that by debuting their 2015 togs with a new lightning-kissed Black helmet. Powder-orange Jerseys and grey (gray?) sand pants. The Miners will try and do their northern neighbors a solid by grounding the Sin City Sparks in their Sedona lids, white jerseys and copper bottoms.
Other interesting pairings for this weekend will see Staten Island at Harrisburg, the Navigators facing the Giraffes in Roanoke, The Corn visiting Wichita and Yellowknife taking on the Shock.
You can vote on this weekend’s action by heading to uwfantasyfootballleague.com and you can submit your designs for the Spring Developmental League to try to get your squad into the UWFFL next fall by posting them on our Prospective UWFFL Teams Google+ Page.
Make sure you come back tomorrow as we bring you our UWFFL Premier game of the week and preview the action from across the Bigs and La Lega.
for the Ticker
Got an e-mail from Will Scheibler, who sent along some stunning beautiful photos of the Toronto Maple Leafs — no not those Leafs — the Baseball Team. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Toronto Maple Leafs were a high-level minor league baseball club located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that played from 1896 to 1967. Wikipedia has a pretty thorough history of the team, should you wish to learn more. Will notes that all these images come from Archives of Toronto.
Anyway, there were only a few captions with the photos Will sent, and they are simply too good for the ticker, so I’ll post them inline below. You can click on any image to enlarge:
Fantastic stuff, Will — thanks so much for sharing!
OK, now onto the ticker…
Uni Watch News Ticker:
Baseball News: Here’s an undated photo of the Houston Buffs arriving in Panama for Spring Training. Submitter Cort McMurray guesses it’s 1946 or so. Says Cort, “They’re reminiscent of the Madden era Rays.” Here’s another shot, also from Cort — Look at those hats! … More old photos: Check out this 1914 Providence Grays Team, featuring 19-year-old Babe Ruth standing in the back row (from Bruce Menard, of course). … You can now buy a baseball cap for $75-$300, if you want. It’s a really nice cap though (thanks to Tommy Turner). …. Reader Dave Raglin saw this on Twitter and thought it was pretty cool: A tweet from David Aardsma, picturing him in many (all?) of his MLB uniforms.
College/HS Football News: Long-time Uni Watcher Ben Traxel saw this picture hanging on a wall. Ben adds, “Note the helmet of the SLU player ”“ BEAT CBC. Thought that was interesting. That’s St. Louis University High vs. Christian Brother College.” … Moderately interesting article on the matchup between Ohio State and Alabama compares the two schools, and even asks which school has the better helmet. … UnderArmour has released photos of the UA High School All Star game — As Paul notes, they’re subtle to say the least. … What’s at stake? Possibly the graphic guy’s job? (great spot by Jay Burnam). … NEWS FLASH! Now that ASU has switched from swooshie to adidas, Paul Lucas has committed to ASU (nice spot by Jay Vandevoort). … During yesterday’s Quick Lane Bowl, Rutgers players and coaches honored fallen police officers with NYPD hats. … Here’s a look at the apple green helmets that Oregon will be wearing in their playoff game (thanks to Clint Richardson) — notice the Playoff Bowl sticker on the back
(wonder if all teams will have this…) And to answer my own question — here is Ohio State with the playoff logo as well (h/t @LandGrant33). … Last evening, the Empire State Building was lit with the colors of the two teams in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Penn State and Boston College), which is being played today. … Arizona State, in its last game with Nike (for football), will be wearing white/white/maroon today. … ASU will be taking on Duke, who will wear this uniform today.
NBA News: Paul had a really great writeup of the Christmas jerseys worn by the NBA players yesterday (if you missed it, click here). But the real kicker was the fact that the Spurs Coyote got his own jersey too! Awesome.
Soccer News: Bit of a scoreboard glitch here, as Johnny Flanagan explains, “Was watching Spurs-Leicester just now, on NBC Sports, and after a quick break, the Everton-Stoke scoreboard popped up. Stayed there for 5 minutes or so. They’ve taken it down, but now there’s no clock/score at all!” … Did you ever wonder what Elton John would look like kicking a soccer ball? Me neither, but there we go anyway. That comes from Coleman Mullins, and in the background are George Best and some of his teammates.
Grab Bag: Even in the comics, it looks like UnderArmour got to Santa (sent in by Paul Dillon). … Thankfully this is a low-clarity photo, but Kary Klismet was driving around looking at Christmas lights with family on Christmas, “when we came across this inflatable Santa in someone’s front yard. Apparently, even Santa breaks out G.I. Joe alternate unis these days!”
And that’s it for today, folks. Enjoy the college football bowls, plus hockey & hoops today, and whatever you may be doing. Hope everyone’s Holidays are going well so far. Hope your back is feeling better today, Paul. And, on my penultimate post of 2014, I wish you all…
“What is Paul Lukas’s fix for the Washington Redskins, calculated to put a smile on the largest number of people? Forgive me for thinking I have a right to know, but being a regular visitor, I’ve learned the sermons so well I can move my lips right along with you.”