By Phil Hecken
OK, kids ”” it’s that time of year again. That wonderful time of year known as “Bowl Season.” And as I’ve done for the past several years (to varying degrees of success), I shall pick the winners of the bowl games (against the spread), based on who has the better uniform set worn throughout the 2016 season.
Some of the games will have a slam-dunk winner for best uni, some will be pretty easy to see, others are a tough call ”” and some feature teams that are both so bad”¦neither team deserves to be picked.
As always, you can click on the graphics to see a full size. In all cases, every attempt was made to include all uniform combos worn by each team throughout the year. In some instances, a team with a better uniform in general, but who goes off the grid with too many “special” unis (or fails to use school colors) will not get the nod over a lesser-attired team. It’s not a question of how many unis and combos a school has ”” it’s who wears them better.
I know Paul’s not a big fan of corporate-douchebaggery associated with Bowl Names. But for ease of reference, I’m going to refer to the Bowls as their names appear here. OK? OK.
This year there are a RECORD 41 bowl games (plus the National Championship/Playoff Final Game), so I’ll break this into two parts ”” today is the first 21 Bowls. Tomorrow I’ll have the remaining 20. You can click on any image to enlarge.
So, without further ado, here goes nothing…
Air Force Reserve Celebration:
NC Central vs. Grambling State
Saturday, December 17; Noon; ABC
Spread: Grambling State is a 15.5 point favorite
I’m not really a fan of either team and neither has particularly good unis — but colorwise Grambling is the clear winner (black and gold are always a welcome combo). They do have TNDL (Team Name Down Leg) which would normally subtract some points, but so too does NCC. Both seem to use GFGS as well. Tough call here, but I’ll take the team with the prettier colors.
The Pick: Let’s roll with Grambling, despite giving up 2-plus TDs.
Gildan New Mexico
New Mexico vs. UTSA
Saturday, December 17; 2:00 pm; ESPN
Spread: New Mexico is a 7 point favorite
Another game involving teams who don’t like to stick with school colors, and both teams have a BFBS look. *Sigh* I really like the way UTSA uses their orange and gold, and New Mexico has “LOBOS” down their pants. It’s too bad because I really like UNM otherwise, and they do have the one-off turquoise-accented uni which is outstanding. But it’s not enough to tip the scales the other way.
The Pick: Gimme UTSA and the touchdown.
Houston vs. San Diego State
Saturday, December 17; 3:30 pm; ABC
Spread: Houston is a 3 point favorite
It’s rare that a team in college goes through an entire season with only two jerseys and one pair of pants, but San Diego State does just that. Since changing to these unis a couple of seasons ago, they’ve done nothing but grow on me (which is a rarity). Houston — you’ve improved your unis over the years, but you still have a tendency to wear AFAS (anthracite for anthracite’s sake). You might get the nod over a lot of teams, but not over SDS. I’ll take the field goal.
The Pick: San Diego State and three points.
Raycom Media Camellia
Appalachian State vs. Toledo
Saturday, December 17; 5:30 pm; ESPN
Spread: Toledo is a 1 point favorite
All I can say is I hope this game is color vs. color and one team wears gold jerseys. Both teams manage to mix and match well, despite only having two colors plus white and Toledo barely repeated a combination this year. They are another team whose unis have improved over the years, but their fonts still suck — a big point deducter there. App State somehow manages to have different striping (or none) on all three sets of pants. Odd. Still, they eke out the edge here.
The Pick: App State wins by more than one.
UCF vs. Arkansas State
Saturday, December 17; 5:30 pm; CBSSN
Spread: Central Florida is a 6 point favorite
UCF underwent a sorely needed uni makeover this year, getting rid of the template both they and Rutgers shared. Unfortunately for them, their unis still aren’t particularly attractive. They also have a tendency to wear some form of silver/gray that’s very blah. Ark State, the RED Wolves, on the other hand, wear a lot of black, much to their detriment. This is not going to be a easy choice nor a good looking game. It’s a coin flip here, but I’ll take Arkansas State. Barely.
The Pick: I’ll take the Red Wolves and the six points.
R+L Carriers New Orleans
Southern Miss vs. UL Lafayette
Saturday, December 17; 9:00 pm; ESPN
Spread: Southern Miss is a 3.5 point favorite
Southern Miss is another of those rare teams who you know what they’re going to wear at home and on the road every week. And their uniforms aren’t bad at all. The Ragin’ Cajuns of ULL have a nice spiffy set (even if they manage to squeeze pretty much every possible combo out of red and white). Should be good looking game — with the edge barely going to the ULL squad.
The Pick: I’ll take Lafayette and the field goal with the hook.
Central Michigan vs. Tulsa
Monday, December 19; 2:30 pm; ESPN
Spread: Tulsa is a 12 point favorite
I didn’t think Minnesota was playing until later. What’s that? Oh, that’s Central Michigan in the maroon and gold. Well, they do look a lot like their compatriots to the west, don’t they? Sadly, this is not an attractive set — not a fan of that yoke on the gold jersey, and the pants stripe is entirely too wide for my taste. Still, they’re not the Golden Hurricane, whose use of gold on their uniforms has been kept to a minimum this year. Yes, they improved a bit with the nifty script “Tulsa” on as the wordmark, but other than that (and particularly the BFBS), these are not a good set. In a tough call, I will side with the Chippewas.
The Pick: Gimme a side of chips and a dozen points, please.
Memphis vs. Western Kentucky
Tuesday, December 20; 7:00; ESPN
Spread: Western Kentucky is a 5 point favorite
FFS. Both teams went through the entire season without repeating a single combo, an Oregon-induced trend that’s particularly unappealing. Memphis has a chrome hat and likes BFBS. The Hilltoppers of WKU also like the chrome dome, and TNDL. This one is like picking death by boiling or stoning. Neither is good and you just hope one is quicker than the other. Still, I have to give an-ever-so-slight edge to WKU because they are simply not. as. bad. Kill me now.
The Pick: Hilltoppers, giving the nickel.
San Diego County CU Poinsettia
BYU vs. Wyoming
Wednesday, December 21; 9:00 pm; ESPN
Spread: BYU is a 9 point favorite
This is going to be a GOOD looking game! BYU has had solid unis for a few years now (despite their one BFBS game a year), and that royal jersey is one of the finest in all of the land. And it’s hard to believe how far Wyoming has come — going from arguably one of the worst sets in the NCAA to a very nice pair of unis now. Their new fonts and wordmark (evoking a “Wild West” feel) are also a tremendous improvement. Still not a fan of the white hat with brown and gold elements (should be either brown or gold), but after knowing how far they’ve come, I won’t complain. In fact, I’m pulling for them here.
The Pick: How ’bout dem Cowboys (and nine points)!
Famous Idaho Potato
Idaho vs. Colorado State
Thursday, December 22; 7:00 pm; ESPN
Spread: Colorado State is a 13.5 point favorite
This one is a slam dunk. Idaho probably doesn’t even deserve to be in this game (maybe they’re hoping to fill Boise’s stadium with home state fans?), and their unis are out of the league of CSU as well. Sorry, Idaho, you may look like Colorado…but Colorado State won’t be fooled. On the other hand, the Rams’ deep green and gold look incredible together, and even that once-a-season throwback with orange accents is sharp! No contest here.
The Pick: Give me State and I’ll give you almost two touchdowns.
Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion
Friday, December 23; 1:00 pm; ESPN
Spread: Old Dominion is a 4 point favorite
EMU may play on a shitty gray-turf field, but I won’t hold that against them. In fact, except for the gimmicky diamondplate effect they have on their numbers and helmet logo, they have some pretty nice unis. ODU, on the other hand, just plan has bad looking unis and helmets. The stripe on their helmet is particularly annoying, with the forked tongue effect, and it’s almost like UA decided to outfit them in the most generic unis in their stock. BFBS doesn’t help. I even liked EMU’s “New York Jets” throwback earlier this year. Easy call here.
The Pick: Eastern Michigan plus four.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces
Louisiana Tech vs. Navy
Friday, December 23; 4:30 pm; ESPN
Spread: Navy is a 1.5 point favorite
This also has the chance to be a very good looking game. Louisiana Tech has some pretty solid unis, and their striping is divine. Navy is Navy. And that’s a fine looking set they have. Despite losing to Army for the first time in about a century, Navy will be back for this one, and their unis have the edge too.
The Pick: Anchors aweigh. 1.5 points away too.
Ohio vs. Troy
Friday, December 23; 8:00 pm; ESPN
Spread: Troy is a 4 point favorite
Ohio managed to go the entire season without wearing their BFBS uni…until the MAC Championship. They lost. But I’ve always thought the Bobcats had a solid set, and this time around is no exception. They look like what the Jets could look like if Nike could match the greens too. Troy. Troy. Troy. No, no, no. Just no. When you have too many hats, BFBS and GFGS, you can go an entire season without repeating a combo. This is not a positive.
The Pick: Give me the ‘cats and the four points.
Hawai’i vs. Middle Tennessee
Saturday, December 24; 8:00 pm; ESPN
I’m not sure why, but as of last evening, this game STILL did not have a line. Odd. Anyway, Hawai’i’s got some pretty cool unis, and basically only one home and road set. MTSU, on the other hand…is another in the long line of Oregon-esque clones that have so many uni choices they can play 12 games without a repeated combo. Again, this is not a good thing. I don’t care what the spread is, I’m taking Hawai’i here.
The Pick: Hawai’i (plus or minus whatever…).
Miami (OH) vs. Mississippi State
Monday, December 26; 11:00 am; ESPN
Spread: Miss State is a 13 point favorite
For whatever reason, finding game pics of Miami of Ohio is next to impossible. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Miami did get new unis this year, replacing what may have been the worst set in college (remember the “MI AMI” they had splashed across the shoulders?). Now it’s pretty generic looking, although somewhere along the line they managed to sneak in a GFGS alt. Miss State is no picnic either with all their combos, and they did let adidas talk them into the BFBS “Military” tribute uni. But it’s still a decent set. Maroon and gray are always good colors.
The Pick: I’ll take the Bulldogs and give the 13 digits.
Maryland vs. Boston College
Monday, December 26; 2:30 pm; ESPN
Spread: Maryland is a 1.5 point favorite
Hey, remember when Maryland wanted to be Oregon and had like 80 bazillion options and combos? Well, not anymore — they actually have toned it down quite a bit since then. Yes, they still have several alternates (including the “White Ops” and “Black Ops” and the retina-searing “Red Ops” they introduced this year to much ridicule), but it’s not nearly as bad as it once was. Nevertheless, they still don’t compare to the classic BC trots out weekly. No contest, here, really.
The Pick: Please let me have the BC with a side of one-and-a-half points.
Camping World Independence
NC State vs. Vanderbilt
Monday, December 26; 5:00 pm; ESPN2
Spread: Vanderbilt is a 4.5 point favorite
Despite still having the almost-obligatory GFGS alternate set, NC State actually has some pretty nice unis. They use and mix-and-match their red and white quite well. This is in stark contrast the the clusterfuck of a uni set Vandy trots out on a weekly basis. The number fonts are annoyingly narrow (and not unique) and the shoulder caps need to go. They need to get back to wearing black and gold only. And four helmets? C’mon. Pick a lane here.
The Pick: Give me the Pack and and points.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas
Army vs. North Texas
Tuesday, December 27; Noon; ESPN
Spread: Army is a 9 point favorite
Army has settled into a nice couple sets of uniforms, even if their Army/Navy costume was a bit over the top. But they wear the black and gold well. North Texas also mixes their kelly and white/black nicely, but somehow the uni set feels dated. Like, it’s time for an update. The template feels at least three years old (a lifetime in uni-years). It will be a good looking game (especially if NT avoids black), but Army has the edge here.
The Pick: The Black Knights minus nine and no worries.
Temple vs. Wake Forest
Tuesday, December 27; 3:30 pm; ESPN
Spread: Temple is a 13 point favorite
Temple has one of the modern unis I really like. The tiled stripes (even with the gradient) look great, and cherry and white are great colors. If only they didn’t need to mix in that BFBS uni on occasion. Wake, on the other hand, has regressed uni-wise. Despite having only gold, black and white uni elements, they manage to wear a different set almost every game. And they have TWO different black jerseys. Those sleeve caps with whatever design that is are just distracting. No thanks.
The Pick: Despite giving up 13, I’m gonna take Temple here.
National Funding Holiday
Minnesota vs. Washington State
Tuesday, December 27; 7:00 pm; ESPN
Spread: Washington State is a 7 point favorite
Despite only having two hats, and using only maroon, gold and white, the Gophers were able to go through the season with barely a repeat combo. And maroon and gold are great colors too (and I like the overall look). Wazzu, sadly, combines their crimson with TWO shades of gray when one (the lighter one) would do nicely. It’s not a bad set, but not quite up there with the Golden Gophers.
The Pick: Go Go Gophair and the free TD
Motel 6 Cactus
Boise State vs. Baylor
Tuesday, December 27; 10:15 pm; ESPN
Spread: Boise State is a 7.5 point favorite
After being in the wilderness for a few years, uni-wise, Boise State has cut down on the crazy combos (though they still love the BFBS and don’t wear orange nearly enough). Royal and orange are a tremendous combo — just wish we saw more of it with Boise. Baylor — where do we start? They managed (once again) to wear a different combo for each game, with both a BFBS and a GFGS set to mix and match from. The kids may love the threads, but you never know what you’re going to get. Kinda like Baylor’s game. Boise get the nod here.
The Pick: I’ll take the Broncos and give the seven-and-half.
Phew! There you have it — my picks by uni for the first set of bowls. As I do every year, this system usually produces about a 50% winning percentage — about the same luck as if I’d just tossed a coin. Maybe that will change this time around.
If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to take a look back (and to share with you) a whole season’s worth of uniform combos for all the schools that make it to a bowl game. I hope you enjoy it (it takes me roughly 20 hours of research and preparation, plus about three hours just to create each post). Back with the second half tomorrow!
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it on Friday, Paul has written an ESPN piece that takes a broader view of how Thursday Night’s color rush uniforms fit into the Seahawks’ and Rams’ respective pasts ”” and possibly their futures. Paul notes the “Rams-Seahawks game wasn’t the best-looking Color Rush game of the season (that honor goes to October’s Broncos-Chargers matchup), but in many ways it was the most intriguing uniform pairing of the Thursday night schedule.” He then takes an in-depth look at the possibilities of the Seahawks keeping the “action” green and Rams going the white/blue routes down the road. Great stuff!
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: From the ever-indispensible Bruce Menard: check out these wonderful 1941 Boise Pilots unis. Love the plane (bomber?) on the left chest. In a somewhat related matter, Todd Radom asks, “Did you know that the St Louis Browns considered putting Lindbergh’s plane on their uniforms?”. … Speaking of teams from 1941, here are those 1941 St. Louis Browns (Bruce again). … Remember that awesome San Diego Padres prototype jersey from 1985? Gaslamp ball did a lot of research into that. … Brown Baseball has new jerseys for 2017 (h/t Paul). … Contained within this story about Jeffrey Loria possibly selling the Marlins is the news that the Marlins expect to sell naming rights to their stadium before the All-Star Game in July 2017 (thanks, Brinke).
NFL News: The garish neon snot unis the Seahawks wore for Thursday Night Football got mixed reviews (shockingly). When you win 24-3, does that help you like them more? “Oh, I love them, man. I love them,” linebacker Cassius Marsh said of the highlighter look. “I think they’re the best color rush uniforms in the league, honestly.” More of the Seahawks felt the same way. … Speaking of color rash, John Turney thinks Thursday Night’s unis should have looked like this. … The Cleveland Browns will be going orange/white/brown/orange against the Bills. … According to this article, “the Rams didn’t wear all yellow [Thursday night], apparently because of the potential clash with the Seahawks’ “action green” ensemble”. The author also feels the Rams “blew” a golden opportunity for a true blue/white throwback. … Dear God, here’s what the Seattle Seahawks “Action” green helmet would have looked like for Color Rash had there been no “one-shell rule” in place (h/t Steve B. Creations). … The New Orleans Saints will wear their white jerseys with gold pants this weekend. … Here’s some great vintage footage which includes the Eagles with white helmets & green wings (from RNs Funhouse). … Check out the Packers’ Jordy Nelson wearing an awesome OppoSuit (That’s the “Winter Wonderland” model — I don’t have that one, but I do have two others). From Jerry Kulig who adds, “He BETTER be able to catch the ball.” … Joe Skiba gave us our first look at the players authentic
color rush throwback jerseys for next week. Adds submitter Jamie Burditt, “Can’t wait to see these!” … Reader Amaan Mir offers this explanation as to why the Seahawks number appear lighter than their other blue trim: “The reason why the Seahawks number color looked a lighter shade of blue than the rest of the jersey was because of the feathered trim. The background part is the same blue as the rest of the uniform but the feathered trim part is a lighter shade. The picture attached is my color rush jersey.”
College Football News: No matter what I said about the game in today’s writeup — we’re going to have a color vs. color game for the Las Vegas Bowl today, with Houston sporting red and San Diego State University donning their all-black uniform (h/t Jerry Adams). … Interesting numeral placement on UW Oshkosh’s helmets (good spot by Victory Cheeseballs). … Nice color vs. color matchup during last night’s D3 Stagg Bowl (more here). From Jonathan Cain.
Hockey News: Cold enough for ya (for many readers in the United States)? Here’s your first look at Blackhawks Goalie Scott Darling’s Winter Classic Goalie Mask (thanks to Mike Puckli and Eric Lovejoy). … Speaking of new masks, Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek unveiled a Christmas-themed mask this week, one which features the beloved Buddy the Elf character on the side (h/t Pete Blackburn). … “Found this video of a 15 year old Connor McDavid,” writes Landon Fried. “At the 2:23 mark it shows him in a Marlies jersey with an absolutely obliterated crest.”… The Hersey Bears will wear these jerseys during warm-ups on December 18th (from Hershey Bears, via Paul). … I have no idea what team this is, but I agree with Derek that these are the best Christmas uniforms ever. … “Aside from the obvious logo-snatch from the Canadiens, it’s interesting to see a perennial powerhouse in the St. Cloud Saint University Huskies having a white AND a black face cage,” writes Dustin Semore. He adds, parenthetically, “(Not to mention other players wearing the full plastic shield).”
NBA News: Because we need another list: Andrew Lynch of Fox Sports has gone to the trouble of ranking every NBA team’s best uni/jersey from 30 to 1. … JÃ¤egermeister had a bunch of additional trademark filings against the Bucks on Thursday (via Paul). Seems to me these logos are close, but not exactly infringement. But then, I’m not a lawyer. … The Utah Jazz wore Craig Sager tribute shooting shirts last evening (from Warren Junium).
College Hoops News: Everyone loves “throwback” uniforms, right? Well, here’s one person’s opinion of the nine best throwback unis in college hoops. … Everyone loves bobbleheads, right? Mascot bobbleheads (bobblehead Hall of Fame) use the current NCAA trophy and not era appropriate ones (from James Gilbert). … Sweet! Syracuse will be wearing some awesome Pearl Washington-era throwbacks today against Georgetown. … Northwestern will wear these “Gothic” lettered unis today (from NU Men’s Basketball).
Grab Bag: From the “That’s NOT Yours” files comes this item: “St. Anselm — a primary school in Dearborn Heights, Michigan — uses a barely-modified WHA Michigan Stags logo,” from Ryan Keberly. What’s the WHA Michigan Stags logo? you may ask. Here you go. … If you’re squeamish, you might not want to read the next story: Say ”˜ahh’: A look inside the grisliest job in sports (from Ted Arnold). … Under Armour has added built-in sensors to three new running shoes, part of a bigger push by the company to double the number of units of “connected” footwear it hopes to sell in 2017 (from Tommythecpa).
And that’s it for today. I hope you guys enjoy the lookback (with predictions as an excuse to research all the unis) at everything worn this season by the bowl teams. As I mentioned in the lede — it is by far the most labor intensive post(s) I do every year, and probably takes me between 15 and 20 hours, all told, to complete. It is, however, a labor of love. After all, what’s better than staring at unis on a computer for a week straight???
I’ll have the second set of the uni predictions for the remainder of the Bowls tomorrow (and don’t forget, for all of you jonesing for the return of College Football — you get it today in spades, with SIX games from noon through the late evening (even if many of them suck and have teams you haven’t paid attention to all year). Tis still football.
Everyone stay warm and I will catch you fine folks tomorrow, but until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Thursday’s ‘color rush’ night is meant to wake up players who’ve only had four days to rest.”
— Michael Emody