By Phil Hecken
Hey guys — back with the annual look back (with an excuse to pick the Bowl game winners) at the 2017 uniforms and combinations of all the teams involved in the second set (today’s games through next Friday — December 29th) of College Football Bowl Games.
If you missed Part I, you can click here.
The concept of this exercise is pretty simple: pick the winners of the bowl games (against the spread), based on who has the better uniform set worn throughout the 2017 season. I usually get about 50% correct this way (which is to say, about the same odds as if I’d flipped a coin). After the first 11 games, I’m at 5 wins and 6 losses. Pretty much what you’d expect.
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.
After a record 41 bowls last year, this year we’re blessed with less. I’ll be breaking them up into segments: last weekend (see link above) — the 11 bowls that took place last week. Today you’ll see matchups for the 19 games this week, and finally (next Saturday) the final 9 bowls (excluding the final-final National Championship Game to be played on Monday, January 8th) with teams you’ve actually watched all season long. You can click on any image to enlarge. (Apologies if they seem to run into one another — first listed school is on the left, second listed is on the right.)
So, without further ado, here is part II…
Texas Tech vs. South Florida
Saturday, December 23; Noon; ESPN
Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
Spread: USF is a 2.5 point favorite
After donning many possible uni combos over the years, USF has actually settled on two main ones — the mono-green and mono-white, with the pseudo-tequila sunrise thrown in for good measure for a game. Tech loves its multiple combos, but with the exception of the throwback, none of them are particularly attractive. In a battle of UA schools, South Florida gets the nod here.
The Pick: USF -2.5
San Diego vs. Army
Saturday, December 23; 3:30 pm; ESPN
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
Spread: SDSU is a 7 point favorite
There is no question this will be a good looking game. Army’s generally utilitarian unis have actually improved over the years, and the incredible all-white uni they sported for the Army-Navy game was amazing, but I have really fallen in love with SDSU’s two (with one helmet and one pair of pants!) combos they’ve now sported for a couple years. The Aztecs’ uniforms have really grown on me since first released.
The Pick: SDSU -7
Appalachian State vs. Toledo
Saturday, December 23; 7:00 pm; ESPN
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
Spread: Toledo is a 7.5 point favorite
App State mixes and matches their black and gold very well, and I have liked this set for a while now. Toledo has for several years had shitty unis, but they’ve improved a bit of late. Unfortunately, their switch from Russell to Under Armour and now to Nike hasn’t been that great an improvement. Not enough to pick them today, anyway.
The Pick: App State +7.5
Houston vs. Fresno State
Sunday, December 24; 8:30 pm; ESPN
Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union Field at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawai’i
Spread: Houston is a 2.5 point favorite
Let me first say I love Houston when they go red/white. I am NOT a fan of the AFAS (Anthracite For…) getups they insist on sporting for a couple of games. That being said, I’m not particularly a fan of FSU’s red/blue combos. I have always liked the Fresno State “V” on the helmet, which has a very cool backstory. It’s a tough call here — in a game I probably won’t be watching due to a holiday tradition or two I’ve observed for decades — but I gotta make a call.
The Pick: Houston -2.5
Heart of Dallas:
West Virginia vs. Utah
Tuesday, December 26; 1:30 pm; ESPN
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
Spread: Utah is a 7 point favorite
Ugh. While West Virginia has an outstanding color combination of navy and gold, their unis belie the beauty of their duds. Add to the fact that they did not ONCE go blue/blue/gold and it’s a travesty. Throw in the pick-axe font and…well, you get the idea. Utah also has beautiful red and black colors, but they’ve regressed — going from a kinda cool mountain motif sleeve cap to a more generic seven-stripe pattern. The pants stripe also makes a weird new “turn” at the knee, which is also a downgrade. Nevertheless, it’s still better than the ‘eers costumes.
The Pick: Utah -7
Duke vs. Northern Illinois
Tuesday, December 26; 5:15 pm; ESPN
Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Spread: Duke is a 5.5 point favorite
Duke, who already go BFBS, threw in some AFAS this year. Which is a shame, because when they go blue/white in any combo, they look terrific. Better than the Colts even! NIU, who used to go with a shit-ton of combos, basically kept to two this year: black/red/black and mono white. You might call them plain-Jane, but I like them. Like, a lot. Easy call here.
The Pick: NIU +5.5
Kansas State vs. California Los Angeles
Tuesday, December 26; 9:00 pm; ESPN
Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
Spread: K-State is a 2 point favorite
This one is going to be a beautiful looking game. K-State, who normally wear only two combos, actually wore a special helmet (look closely — it’s got a slight camo pattern) for one game (THE HORROR!). UCLA switched from adidas to UA this year, and the change was great. I’d like the UCLA blue to be a bit more powdery, and I’m not 100% sold on the UCLA script on the hat being light blue instead of dark, but otherwise they nailed it! The UCLA stripes are back and even the one-off all-white uni was a treat. This is a tough call, but I think the Broons are gonna get the nod here.
The Pick: UCLA +2
Southern Miss vs. Florida State
Wednesday, December 27; 1:30 pm; ESPN
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
Spread: FSU is a 14.5 point favorite
Despite the great combo of black and gold, one of the last schools to be outfitted with Russell, Southern Miss, doesn’t have the greatest unis — I’m particularly not font of the ghosted tv numbers on the sleeve caps. Southern did have a nice throwback this season, but picked the wrong uni to throwback to. And while I’m not high on FSU’s unis, former coach Jimbo Fisher kept them in garnet and gold exclusively. New HC Willie Taggart has already said FSU will wear alts next season, and already, new combos are being promised for next season. But we don’t need to worry about that now. It’s FSU this year.
The Pick: FSU -14.5
Iowa vs. Boston College
Wednesday, December 27; 5:15 pm; ESPN
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Spread: Iowa is a 3 point favorite
Iowa always looks like the Steelers — except for one great game vs. Ohio State when they wore black alternates and took them behind the woodshed. BC also basically wears only two combos — the maroon and gold homes, and the mono-white roads, except for the one Welles Crowther red bandana game. Both teams have nice unis, but the BC quadriceps stripes kinda annoy me (though they’re not nearly as bad as some UA uni gimmicks). But Iowa is Iowa and they always look great.
The Pick: Iowa -3
Purdue vs. Arizona
Wednesday, December 27; 8:30 pm; FOX
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Spread: Arizona is a 3.5 point favorite
I’ll say this for this game: Jimmer Vilk would probably love it (if he watched football any more) for this one simple fact: both teams have HUGE uni numbers. Like, you can read those from space, if not the cheap seats. Ahhh, but the unis. I’ve never really liked Purdue’s, and the weird “wing?” pattern on the shoulders doesn’t help much. Then there’s the GFGS. On the other hand, ‘zona’s unis have actually improved (yes, it’s hard to believe, I know) this year. And while they wore 12 different combos, they did so by sticking to school colors — a fairly impressive feat. If this all sounds like damning with faint praise it is, but they need all the help they can get.
The Pick: Arizona -3.5
Texas vs. Missouri
Wednesday, December 27; 9:00 pm; ESPN
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Spread: Mizzou is a 3 point favorite
I’ve never really been a fan of Mizzou’s unis, from the “claw” stripes to the font. They just haven’t gotten it right in a decade or so. I mean, except for the belly shirt, these were pretty perfect. They haven’t gotten better since. Texas, OTOH, is just about perfect with the white hats, the burnt orange. Beautiful. And they’ve kept it that way forever. No contest here.
The Pick: Texas +3
Virginia vs. Navy
Thursday, December 28; 1:30 pm; ESPN
Jack Stephens Field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
Spread: Virginia is a 2.5 point favorite
After years of multiple combos and helmets, Virginia very nicely (and surprisingly) stuck with TWO combos for the entire season, and the navy/orange is a plain, but very pleasing look. Yes, you might mistake them for say, Auburn, at first glance, but that’s not a bad thing. Navy has looked really tight under UA for the past several seasons, and this year they got even better, ditching the six striped jersey for a new six-striped stripe on the shoulders and pants. They also had a really sweet A/N uni. This is a VERY tough call, but I gotta take the Middies here. Plus, it’s basically a home game for them.
The Pick: Navy +2.5
Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech
Thursday, December 28; 5:15 pm; ESPN
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Spread: Okie State is a 4.5 point favorite
Despite having enough potential combos at their disposal to go thirty seasons without a repeat, the Cowboys generally come off looking “predictably gorgeous” to borrow a phrase from Jason Bernard. They still like to throw some gray britches in there, which is disappointing, since orange and black are just fine on their own. Nevertheless, they usually look pretty sharp. Va Tech also usually look pretty good, and they’ve improved their unis over the years, with gorgeous UCLA stripes. But that fat toilet seat contrasting collar is annoying, and the Hokie Stone is overplayed. Close call here, but Okie State looks better.
The Pick: Oklahoma State -4.5
Michigan State vs. Washington State
Thursday, December 28; 9:00 pm; FOX
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Spread: Washington State is a 3.5 point favorite
Sparty has (to its credit) dumped the bronze and shiny hats this year, and stuck to wearing their beautiful green and white elements exclusively. On the other side of the coin, Wazzu doesn’t wear enough crimson and wears too much gray — yes it’s a school color — but not TWO shades (it’s almost AFAS for the dark gray). Their unis got a bit better recently, but not enough.
The Pick: Sparty +3.5
Stanford vs. Texas Christian
Thursday, December 28; 9:00 pm; ESPN
Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Spread: TCU is a 2.5 point favorite
Except for their one BFBS game a year (and their PAC 12 Champ game, when they changed up their helmet stripes), Stanford is classic in their cardinal and white. And it’s a great, classic look. TCU has actually toned it down this season, sticking with mono-white shirts and pants on the road, but they still love that frog-skin pattern which does not look good (especially when rendered in purple). No contest here.
The Pick: Stanford +2.5
Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest
Friday, December 29; 1:00 pm; ESPN
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Spread: Wake Forest is a 3 point favorite
Except for one game where they wore a god awful maroon and black alternate, aTm looked great all season. They’ve settled nicely into the current setup, and it suits them well. Wake Forest, on the other hand, is still a mess. Their home whites have collar horns and an indiscernible pattern on the sleeve caps. Their black top has both of those things, but since they’re both black, we don’t see them. Maybe when they grow up and Nike gives them the unis most other teams are wearing (the riduculously named Vapor Untouchable or whatever it’s called), the unis will improve. Till then, these suck.
The Pick: aTm +3
Arizona State vs. North Carolina State
Friday, December 29; 3:00 pm; CBS
Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Spread: NC State is a 6.5 point favorite
IF (and this is a big IF) ASU stuck to maroon and gold, they’d have one of the better unis in football. They came to their senses a bit this year by ditching the copper/gray unis (though I admit I’d love to see a team actually wear copper as an official color), but kept the BFBS. And they don’t nearly put Sparky on their hats enough. NC State looks great when they go red/white (which is often), but that BFBS and GFGS set both appeared this year. I didn’t mind ASU’s Pat Tillman combat uni, so in a matchup of two oh-so-close-but-not-there schools, my nod goes (barely) to Sparky.
The Pick: ASU +6.5
Kentucky vs. Northwestern
Friday, December 29; 4:30 pm; ESPN
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
Spread: Northwestern is a 7 point favorite
First thing: I LOVE Kentucky’s checkerboard pattern — love it — but too bad it only appears on the shoulder caps. If they repeated it on the helmet and pants stripe…I might need an extra set of tissues. But instead, they have that stupid truncated stripe and wear BFBS way too often. Despite their use of black often over decades, NU’s official colors are still just purple and white. Yet they use a lot of black and even throw in gray. I actually don’t hate the northwestern stripe on the jersey, though I’d prefer it on the sleeve caps — and I don’t like it across the knees. This won’t be a pretty game. It’s a coin flip pick too.
The Pick: Kentucky +7
Utah State vs. New Mexico State
Friday, December 29; 5:30 pm; CBSSN
Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
Spread: Utah State is a 4 point favorite
If Utah State didn’t have TNDL (Team Name Down Leg), I’d like their navy/gray/white combos a lot better. It’s not a bad uni set, but it’s just kinda…there. NM State also seems to get a pretty generic uni template from UA, and I’m not especially fond of it. In the lesser of two evils it’s…
The Pick: Utah State -4
Southern California vs. Ohio State
Friday, December 29; 8:30 pm; ESPN
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Spread: OSU is a 7.5 point favorite
OK, this game is being played in a stadium (Jerryworld) that’s NOT the Cotton Bowl, but they call it the Cotton Bowl. And the two teams playing in it would normally be playing on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, except the Rose Bowl is hosting Oklahoma and Georgia in their playoff game on January 1. So, for all intents and purposes, this IS the Rose (Pac 12 Champ vs. B1G Champ). And it should be a beauty. USC has one of my all-time favorite uni sets, so they’d get the nod over most teams, but OSU, when they stick to scarlet and gray, is most certainly up there. But they wore not one but TWO alts this year — an all gray and an all white (against Michigan in THE GAME no less!), so any chance THE might have had at getting the pick evaporated. Still, it’ll be a good looking Ros…er, Cotton Bowl.
The Pick: USC +7.5
*Deep Breath* PHEW. OK, there you have it. All the games you’ll see (or that are available to watch) this coming week. The games are getting good now — and of course the final nine bowls are the real big ‘uns. Nice to end with a bang in USC/OSU.
Hope you enjoyed my picks-by-better-uni. YMMV.
“Looks like poo & pee in a pool…”
Is this a really great uniform matchup or a really awful one pic.twitter.com/AtuTBnNMlL
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) December 22, 2017
OK — that heder quote is actually made up, but it could have been real. Actually, I didn’t google it, maybe someone did actually say that.
But yesterday’s Potato Bowl, featuring Wyoming and Central Michigan, was one for the ages. White/brown/gold vs. gold/gold/gold on smurf turf. To most people, this was both a surprise and an eyesore.
Now — if everyone on Twitter (which exploded yesterday) had read my Let’s Go Bowling uni preview from last Saturday, they’d have known the colors of the two combatants. Wyoming, the designate home team, ONLY wears white/brown/gold, so that one was a given. CMU is maroon and gold, so as the designated road team, they could have worn a bunch of combos (with white or gold jerseys) and looked fine. In fact, if they only wore the gold jersey, we might have said this was a nice color-vs-color game. Instead, Twitter went nuts. Here’s just a sampling…
— Brent Grove (@grove245) December 22, 2017
— DJD (@datdamndj) December 22, 2017
Have we seen an uglier Uniform/Turf combination in the history of sports?
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) December 22, 2017
— Ben Nishimoto (@Ben_Nishimoto) December 22, 2017
Yeah, people weren’t liking it. But you knew the game would be played on the blue turf of Boise and well…
Even those who didn’t feel the need to tweet a photo had an opinion…
@PhilHecken blue turf. yellow/yellow/yellow v white/brown/yellow. The famous Idaho potato bowl is hideous
— Molla Ram Jr. (@RWMcQWERTY) December 22, 2017
With the field color, it's like the devil's trifecta of awfulness.
— Mark Scelfo (@markscelfo) December 22, 2017
When color-on-color goes horribly, mind numbing wrong, wrong, wrong…
— 51 (@6198005151) December 22, 2017
Fortunately, a few people who follow me and/or Paul recognized the game for what it was:
— SWCfootballNow (@SWCfootballNow) December 22, 2017
— Gabe (@GabeNotDave) December 22, 2017
Look — not many games are going to look good on the blue turf — hell, Boise uses it as camouflage, but maybe it would have been a good idea for CMU to figure out that the Cowboys were going to be in w/b/g and maybe not wear gold too?
Honestly, the game didn’t bother me in the least, but then I watch a LOT of college football and know the unis of both these teams — so it didn’t strike me as odd or off-putting in the least.
And the man with whom I have many a uni-disagreement actually tweeted what I was thinking:
Oh sure…hundreds of ugly BFBS games have been played and Twitter doesn't notice. But add some brown and it's "Oh, the humanity!"
— Jim Vilk (@JimVilk) December 23, 2017
Every once in a while a blind squirrel finds his nut.
And just for that, I’ll have good ol’ Jimmer Vilk back tomorrow with his (now annual) “Merry Vilkmas” giveaway. So if you missed out on Paul’s raffle (or even if you didn’t and just want more free stuff), be sure to check back on Vilkmas Eve for that!
An Update On the Ointment For the Rash
Last weekend (in case you missed it), I had graphic artist Matthew Blinco mock up several uni combos using parts of the NFL’s color rash monochrome sets, to see if some of these individual elements might be combined with a team’s normal uni to create something not quite so…garish.
If you didn’t see it, please check it out here. Matthew did great work.
In the comments, there was a request for the Seahawks blue jersey to be combined with the CR lime/neon pants (in my original article, I’d had Matthew pair the neon/lime jersey with navy, white and gray pants). He took it upon himself to mock up the blue top with green bottoms. Here’s the result:
Some of you may like that look, but I’m not a big fan. But it was interesting to see, to say the least.
Any other combos out there (you can look at the entire album here) that weren’t done you’d like to see? Perhaps we can convince Matthew to mock another couple up.
Let us know in the comments below — and give Matthew a nice virtual clap for his efforts on this one!
By Anthony Emerson
Baseball News: If you’ve been reading the ticker all week, you know Phil has been running a Top 10 list of Greatest Negro League uniforms (they’ve been running two a day). Yesterday, the Top Two were revealed. … No Phillies player will wear No. 34 in 2018 in honor of Roy Halladay (from Mike Chamernik). Also buried in there is the news that Pat Neshek will become the first player to wear No. 93 in MLB history. … Also from Mike: The party game Cards Against Humanity, known for previous publicity stunts such as buying land on the Mexican border to prevent President Trump from constructing a border wall and digging a giant hole in the ground for Black Friday, has bought the naming rights to a minor league stadium in Joliet, Il. It will now be known, in typical CAH fashion, as “The Cards Against Humanity Baseball Place.” … Chris Geis visited the Catfish Hunter museum in Hertford, North Carolina, and sent along this pic. “There was a trove of uni-related stuff and I did not have time to stay but a few minutes, but here are a couple of pics and I will get more the next time I am there,” he says.
Pro Football News: Some Washington players dressed in Santa suits and Grinch masks under their practice unis for practice (thanks, Kris). … The Saints are going all black on Sunday (from Russell Goutierez). … If you put all nine of the Browns’ gameday posters in order, it creates the team’s helmet stripe (from Robert Hayes). … Carson Wentz got his offensive line cowboy boots personalized with their uni numbers for Christmas (from Sam McKinley). … The uniforms of the Fujitsu Frontiers of the Japanese X-League seem to have been completely stolen from the Cincinnati Bearcats (from @realnrb). … Von Miller will wear cleats with a cartoon of himself in a Santa hat on Sunday (from Josh Albertine). … For some reason, it appears the Cowboys were practicing with high school or college-sized footballs, as NFL balls don’t have stripes (excellent find by Sterling Roth). … Hold everything, it appears to be a Wilson Slick Training ball for wet weather (from Carter Dunn). … Back in the 60s, the 40-yard-line marker also included a kick-off marker (from Bill Kellick).
College/High School Football News: Ohio’s typical shoulder strips were relegated to the sleeves, presumably to make room for their Bahamas Bowl patch (from Noah Wolf). … Speaking of the Bahamas Bowl, players wore American and Bahamian flag decals on their helmets, but Ohio’s Nathan Rourke added a Canadian flag decal. Naturally, Rourke is Canadian (thanks, Alex). … One more Ohio/Bahamas Bowl item: Connor Brown had a captain’s C instead of the bowl patch (from Dave Fryer). … Central Michigan wore “Oh my!” decals during the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in honor of their alum Dick Enberg (from Dan Murphy).
Hockey News: Sabres goalie Robin Lehner wore Gerry Desjardin’s mask from the 1970s during practice yesterday (from @brobosa). … Sweden’s sweaters at the World Juniors featured copious amounts of advertising (John Oncea).
NBA News: The Grizzlies’ City Edition unis were formally launched yesterday. The wordmark is inspired by protesters’ signage from the 1968 Memphis sanitation worker strike, one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s final protest actions before his assassination in Memphis that same year (from Robert Hayes). … Some (most?) Blazers fans believe that the team’s red “Statement” uniform is bad luck (from David Christopher West). … The Erie BayHawks of the NBA G-League are wearing 1980s Hawks-styled fauxbacks on Feb. 3. (from Billy Hartman). … Speaking of the G-League, get your nostalgia juices flowing with these Nickelodeon Rugrats-inspired unis for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
College/High School Hoops News: Villanova and Hofstra played a neutral-site game at the Nassau Coliseum, with Villanova the designated home team mere feet from the Hofstra campus. Arena officials apparently used the Long Island Nets’ court and only added a giant Villanova logo to center court (from John Muir). … Check out the stripes on these 1972 Kingman (Ks.) High School unis! (from Keith Means). …
Grab Bag: Wicked cool article about the “ghost signs” around Omaha. Some of them are absolutely gorgeous (from @GKG_77). … Cook Out, a southern fast food chain, is giving away this Cook Out-branded basketball jersey on Christmas Day (from James Lee Gilbert).