Bowl review: Helmets like solar panels

LaMichael James and the rest of the Oregon Ducks probably gave Wisconsin fits with their extremely reflective helmets for the Rose Bowl. Photo by Getty Images

Now that we’ve had a week to reflect on the college football season after a dominant performance by the Alabama defense, we’ll take one last look at the uniforms for these special games.

It comes as no shock that I’ll lead off with Oregon and its very shiny helmets for the Rose Bowl. It’s a wonder Wisconsin did not complain it couldn’t see as the Ducks ran out in the Pasadena sun light wearing what more closely resembled solar paneling than a football helmet.

Overall, I thought the look was neat and innovative for even Oregon. The use of “liquid metal” for the helmets and facemasks was cool to see. It added another dimension to the beauty of the setting for the Rose Bowl.

It was also very cool to see the reflection of the field and the mountains surrounding the Rose Bowl whenever ESPN gave the audience a close-up view of the helmet.

Oregon’s helmets worked for the most part, but the one drawback was the helmet had virtually nothing to do with the uniform. I understand it would require a completely silver uniform for the Ducks that might have blinded the 100,000 in attendance, but it’s justa  pet peeve I’m airing here.

Wisconsin also brought a subtlety to the game with the helmets. If you look really close, you can see the pattern of a rose in the W of the Badgers’ helmets. It’s stuff like that, that makes the Rose Bowl great.

The game presented a contrast of style in both style of play and general style. It was neat.

There was plenty of other fashion statements made over the bowl season, and here are a few highlights in our final installment of quick hits for this season:

Virginia looked pretty gross when they took on Auburn in the Chick-fil-a Bowl and it showed in its performance on the field. Photo by Getty Images

  • Virginia went with a frighteningly bad look in a blowout loss to Auburn in the Chick-fil-a Bowl. I have no idea what the Cavaliers were going for. Maybe they thought since the game was being played on New Year’s Eve night, everybody would be too drunk to notice. Luckily for this blog, I work on Saturday nights so I noticed.
  • Oklahoma State went all-black in their Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford. I still wish they would go with orange and white one time. This look made it seem like it was Halloween, not New Year’s.
  • Baylor more closely resembled the old New York Jets than the Baylor Bears in the Alamo Bowl, but I guess it helped them score a lot of points so that’s great.
  • Notre Dame wore names on the back of their jerseys for the Champs Sports Bowl so there’s that.

BCS of uniforms: Big Ten

It's not easy to see, but adding numbers to the Michigan helmets has taken the uniform to a new level this season.

First of all, I hope everyone enjoyed the New Year’s Day bowl games, even if they did come a day later than usual. Today, we’ll look into the Big Ten’s uniform rankings, where tradition reigns supreme.

1. Michigan

The Wolverines have always had a classic, yet intricate look, but this season, they added a new feature that took the uniform to the next level. The addition of small numbers on the helmet to go along with the Wolverine claws is quite cool.

The home combination of blue and yellow is always a good look with one dark color and one light. Also, those colors are synonymous with Michigan considering all the success and tradition in Ann Arbor.

2. Ohio State

Again, the best part of these traditional uniforms comes in the details, but it is nothing new. The Buckeye helmet stickers given out by the coaching staff makes an otherwise plain helmet an interesting part of the uniform.

Again, just like the Michigan uniforms, the colors of Ohio State (scarlet and grey) are iconic in college football.

3. Illinois

The Illini don’t have the same tradition as some other Big Ten schools, but again, the combination of orange and blue works for me.

The recent addition of some unnecessary trimming along the jersey bothers me a bit and the logo of “Illinois” with an underline is a little boring, but overall, the look is stellar.

4. Wisconsin

While, the uniform might be very generic, and as my brother said, “a typical uniform for a team that wears white and red,” it is still aesthetically pleasing. The big W on the helmets fills enough of the helmet to make it cool, and the red trimming along the white pants makes the uniform work.

5. Penn State

These are the most classic or classic football uniforms. The Nittany Lions wear blue at home and white on the road. It’s that simple. If Penn State did not have any success, these uniforms would be considered boring, but now they are iconic.

Michigan State and Michigan made the biggest uniform splash of the Big Ten season in October with these two uniforms.

6. Michigan State

There’s a little bit more going on here for the Spartans. They have switched back and forth on their helmets over recent years, but the general combination of green and white has stayed consistent, save for one game against Michigan this season.

7. Nebraska

It’s still weird to include the Huskers among the Big Ten, but might as well get used to it. These are basically the same as Wisconsin’s uniforms, the only difference, the N on the helmet is small and they wear red pants on the road.

8. Northwestern

The Wildcats don’t have the tradition of most of the schools in the Big Ten, and they wear purple, so there’s that.

9. Purdue

Nothing too special here. The Boilermakers made a change to their uniforms this season (gold numbers) along with most Nike teams, but it didn’t make the uniform any more special.

10. Iowa

The Hawkeyes look like the Pittsburgh Steelers, but with the logo on both sides of the helmet. It’s not bad, but not that creative at all.

11. Minnesota

The Gophers have never really been any good. They wear maroon with yellow. It’s an all right look, but the addition of lots of trimming along the jersey has made it complicated in recent years.

12. Indiana

It feels like the Hooisers have tried to create a traditional uniform for years now, but have never been able to find the right combination. They also use a darker red than their basketball team, who has excellent uniforms.