The No. 4 Oregon Ducks may be concerned about their on-field game plan for Thursday night's Fiesta Bowl matchup against the No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats, but the amateur fashionistas will be more concerned with what they're wearing.
As they're wont to do, the Ducks introduced a special uniform for the Fiesta Bowl festivities. Adorned with a bright yellow helmet and jersey with a subtle secret, the brain trust at Nike who designed these digs made sure they would stand out in the crowd.
However, recent years have taught us that standing out does not automatically lead to a aesthetically pleasing design. Does this look live up to its BCS bowl distinction or fall flat on its face? Here is a complete breakdown and grades for Oregon's helmet and jersey for the 2013 Fiesta Bowl.
As first reported by Mike Grose of The Fan AM 1060 in Phoenix, the Ducks players aren't going to have trouble if they need to look into a mirror on Thursday:
Grose (@mikegrose) December 27, 2012
These particular helmets embody just about everything we've come to know about the Oregon football program. It's an increasingly flashy program that isn't afraid to take risks on the field or in what the players are wearing.
To put it mildly, if bright yellow isn't your thing, then this helmet will be a constant eyesore during the Fiesta Bowl. The helmet is the first thing that jumps out to anyone when they see the uniform, and it will (like every Oregon look) be polarizing to most.
Truth be told, I'm not a huge yellow fan in most instances. However, the risk-taking and intricate detail put into these helmets help sway me enough to give the look a solid grade.
First and foremost, the Ducks simply did not go with a drab, plain yellow look. You have to look closely, but the light shows an intricate painted feathering pattern that makes the helmet stick out even more.
And, of course, there's the mirrored feather logo. That's just the designers essentially doing jumping jacks and yelling "look at me!" It works for this helmet, but this isn't a trend that the Ducks should adopt permanently.
On first inspection, the jersey doesn't look like anything special. The design looks like your normal, everyday (so to speak) Oregon jersey—and then the light changes and you realize why these are so special.
As will be readily apparent Thursday night, the numbering and feather colors change based on what angle they're being viewed. While it certainly won't be a competitive advantage, the easily distracted among us may have to train ourselves to keep all eyes on the action rather than the uniforms.
As for whether the jersey works from a design standpoint, the answer is a resounding yes. Given the distinction of the "road" team in the Fiesta Bowl, Oregon's hands were mostly tied on the base color of its look. That meant for something to truly stand out for the special occasion, the designers would have to pull out all the stops on the secondary colors.
With risk-taking colorways and intricate design combinations, Oregon has made a name for itself in the uniform community. Nike seems willing to constantly supply the school with its latest attempts at innovation, and the Ducks are pretty much always happily wear them on the field—even when the design goes horribly awry.
This design is not one of those cases. It's a middle-of-the-road affair that combines great one-off experiences (color-changing numbers, reflective helmets) and cringe-worthy design errors (bright yellow helmets).
All things considered, that makes the Ducks' Fiesta Bowl uniform pretty typical. I mean, at the very least their helmets were impressive when Kansas State defensive back Carl Miles Jr. first took a peek (per the Fiesta Bowl's Twitter feed):
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (@FiestaBowl) December 31, 2012
If it's good enough to catch the eye of the opponent, it's good enough for me. The uniforms certainly aren't Oregon's best offering, but I have a feeling that will be a secondary concern Thursday night.
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