Welcome to the final edition of Down the Drive’s extensive and inscrutable rankings of the uniforms in college football. We have whittled down our lists over the previous four days and now it is time for Clayton and I to announce our respective top 30s. There will no doubt be surprises, disappointments and lots of people #madonline. But we can do nothing but speak our truth and the truth is, some uniforms are better than others.
Before you peak at the top 30, heck out No. 130-31. Or don’t. I’m not your boss.
Clayton’s Top 30
30. Georgia Tech: They’ve got a nice car. They’ve got nice colors. You’ve got to be really smart to get into the Georgia Institute of Technology. Their Sports Information Department is really friendly and accommodating. That’s good enough for 30th.
29. UNC: They look good. They’d look even better if they all threw a Tarheels Number 23 basketball jersey over their shoulder pads. It would give them better range of motion than a football uniform and it would make it real hard to tell them apart.
28. Florida International: The best idea that Florida International ever had was to cloak their teams in the midnight blue of a Buick Skylark.
27. Indiana: Kind of looks like Alabama, except for the whole having 21 consecutive number one hits on the country charts part.
26. Ole Miss: That scripted Ray-Ban red “Ole Miss” against the Rebels’ dark blue helmets is one of the most scrumdiddlyumptious pieces of headgear in college football.
25. Cal: I like bears. I like gold. I like navy blue. Cal has crafted themselves a surefire path into the top 25.
24. LSU: As mysterious as a Saturday night at a Baton Rouge Waffle House, LSU’s football helmet is full of secret messages from the Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission and the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
23. Tulane: I love you, olive and blue. I fear the wave. And I wait in joyful hope for Riptide the Pelican to free me from the clutches of the Riddler.
22. Pitt: When I put Pitt’s uniforms in the top 25, I am putting their 1970s Banana Boat Sunblock uniforms up here. I am indifferent to their gold, navy and fierce panther uniforms of more recent vintage.
21. Nebraska: I found a Nebraska football helmet shaped mug at a Salvation Army last summer and it has been my constant companion ever since.
20. Marshall: Marshall’s uniforms look refreshing enough to be a brand of toothpaste.
19. Iowa: Herky the Hawk has the highest wonderlic score of any collegiate mascot in Johnson County, Iowa.
18. Oklahoma: The interlocking “OU” would make a great Christmas ornament. The maroon uniforms are flattering on any build.
17. Tennessee: The Volunteers are creamsicles in cleats.
16. Colorado: Colorado’s interlocking “CU” is certainly reminiscent of the Sooners’ “OU.” Placing that “CU” within the Buffalo’s body on the helmet logo gives Colorado a unique and enticing look.
15. Georgia Southern: Basically a cover band. Alabama in midnight blue.
14. Rice: I know that Rice’s mascot is an Owl, but a look at their helmet always makes me think of this:
13. Boston College: The most attractive maroon and gold combination in college football loses a few points because of Baldwin, who comes off more like a crazy uncle than a mascot.
12. Penn State: Not to spoil it, but all the nice things I wrote about Ohio at No. 7 are true of Penn State’s uniforms as well. I just prefer green and white.
11. Minnesota: The Gophers’ maroon and gold is as beautiful as Goldy Gopher’s visage. Now that’s a mascot!
10. Cincinnati: In any iteration, the Bearcats’ uniforms look simultaneously approachable and striking. The current juxtaposition of red and black looks as smooth as a Bass Ale bottle.
9. Navy: Navy Blue. When you are so identified with a color that it is named after you, your sartorial sensibilities are beyond question.
8. Southern Cal: There is a sense of grandeur and glamour to USC’s entire iconography which is unmatched in college football.
7. Ohio: When I close my eyes and envision a football team, they look like Ohio University. There is a clarity of purpose in the Bobcats’ green and white. There is no ulterior motive to this team. They wear a uniform to represent their institution, which they do with a subtle dignity found in few other uniforms.
6. Alabama: That’s what a football helmet looks like. It looks like no nonsense and no quarter for your opponent.
5. Michigan State: The Spartans’ uniform combines the moral clarity of the Ohio Bobcats’ green and white with the sword and sandals splendor of Southern Cal’s.
4. UCLA: Every time a Bruin steps between the lines in Westwood blue and gold, he looks like a celebrity. He looks like he is representing something that is worth representing. Even Chip Kelly will look fantastic when he’s wearing UCLA gear.
3. Texas: Iconic logo. Unique color scheme. The burnt orange and white looks great as a football uniform, a sweatshirt, and on a leisure suit.
2. Notre Dame: Is there anything more clichéd than hating Notre Dame? If you are a fan of one of their actual rivals, go ahead and hate them. If you aren’t, you are wasting your life. Whether you like them or not, they look exquisite in their blue and gold uniforms.
1. Wyoming: The cowboy on horseback on Wyoming’s helmet is the best logo in college football. Their UPS colors are the landscape of the west. Uniforms make manifest how a team and the people they represent envision themselves. Nobody does this as well as the University of Wyoming.
Phil’s Top 30
30. West Virginia: Navy and yellow can be done right, and the Mountaineers do more so than not. Particular favorite assets include the yellow helmets and the navy caps with white trim.
29. Navy: Navy’s normal duds are forgettable but the Midshipmen do some awesome things with their helmets. The baby blue ones they wore in the Military Bowl and in the Army-Navy game were inspired and the anchor ones are all the better.
28. Vanderbilt: What can I say? I’m a sucker for teams that incorporate nautical themes.
27. Arizona: Arizona’s particular brand of red is extremely pleasing. The over-sized numbers are a unique and satisfying touch.
26. UConn: UConn may have the best helmets in the American Athletic Conference.
25. Virginia Tech: Burnt orange alternate helmets and strong striping on the shoulder pads elevate the Hokies past their maroon base.
24. Wisconsin: The Big W is solid. Red and white go well together. I just wish they incorporated the Badger more.
23. Michigan State: One of the few Big Ten teams to experiment with different looks, the Spartans really don’t even need to. The Spartan logo and green and white color scheme are splendid.
22. Florida: The Gators wiped the floor with rival Florida State in their meeting this past season. Well, not in actual football, but the orange uniforms and white helmets with Gators written in bubbly script were tremendous.
21. Georgia: The right way to do the Packers G.
20. USF: Michigan State’s cooler cousin.
19. Arkansas State: Spoilers. Red and black is an excellent color combination.
18. Boise State: So is blue and orange, especially with an enlarged bronco logo on the helmet.
17. UCLA: Its tough to be harsh on gold helmets when the jerseys are a strong shade of powder blue.
16. NC State: The all-red getup with a white helmet that features the old school Wolfpack logo decimates most other combinations.
15. Washington: UCLA but with purple and a few more exciting combos sprinkled in.
14. Louisville: The metallic red helmets are a great development.
13. Texas: The Longhorn logo is iconic and so is that burnt orange.
12. Tennessee: What I call powder orange is pretty great. Tennessee also makes gray alternates work very well.
11. Oregon: Where would college uniforms be without Oregon? Still peddling boring designs with a lot of maroon. Keep me away from the darkest timeline.
10. Arizona State: Whether they go old school or new, the Sun Devils are looking fly.
9. Oklahoma State: Ditto but in orange and black.
8. Michigan: The helmet hasn’t changed in forever and it doesn’t need to at all.
7. Miami: Already a great collection and the Hurricanes have a black alternate they wore in the Orange Bowl.
6. Memphis: The Cincinnati Bengals have the best helmet in the NFL. Memphis has the same design except in blue and silver.
5. TCU: Black. Purple. Frogs. A trio made in heaven.
4. Texas Tech:
3. Cincinnati: Am I biased here? Sure. But the Bearcats wear all-black consistently and make smart choices when the red and white in the color scheme is featured.
2. North Carolina: That Carolina blue though.
1. Clemson: The paw print logo is top notch, the orange fantastic and the purple sublime. Also, the only alternate that can compete with the black alternate is Clemson’s purple ones. Lots of teams have black alternates. Nobody has purple ones like the Tigers. Check please.