Oregon Football: Power Ranking the Ducks' Greatest Uniform Combinations Ever
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The subject of Oregon's many uniform combinations used to be a sore subject for fans.
I can recall many conversations that began with excitement over what the team would be wearing, only to hear an opposing fan retort, "that's nice, but how about you win some games?"
Well, opposing fans, laugh all you want now about the Ducks' fashion choices. Not only does the team have the most talked-about uniforms in the country, it's backing up the attention with dominating play on the field.
Four straight BCS appearances backs that point up fairly well.
But the offseason (aside from spring practice where we won't learn much until the spring game) should be a time for fun as well as the natural anxiety over the upcoming season.
So without fear of jest for once again delving into the world of fashion, let's take a look at some of Oregon's greatest uniform combinations ever. For me, many of the great ones often go hand in hand with great teams and incredible individual performances.
The subjective nature of this topic makes it impossible to come up with a perfect list, but nevertheless, here are my top five uniform combinations in Duck football history.
5. Throwbacks Uniforms Against Cal in 2009
Ed Dickson scored three TDs in a 42-3 victory over No. 6-ranked Cal
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The decision to wear throwback uniforms against Cal has to go down as one of the greatest PR moves in University of Oregon history.
The team had started the year with a humiliating defeat at Boise State but rallied to put together a couple tight victories before the No. 6-ranked Bears came to town.
The attitude around Eugene was a sort of nervous optimism, but it became full-fledged hype once rumors of throwbacks started getting around and T-shirts with the old, interlocking "UO" logo hit the shelves.
Remember that Oregon had been experimenting with uniform combinations for over 10 years too, and while many other teams had the occasional week where they donned throwbacks, the Ducks had never done such a thing.
The pure green and yellow paid homage to some of the great Oregon teams of the '90s, and the move seemed to work as the Ducks demolished Cal by 39 points that day.
Throwbacks are only cool if: 1) you don't sport them every four games and 2) the team actually plays like it's honoring the program's history (even if it is a lackluster one).
The Ducks did themselves proud that day, and fans won't forget those particular uniforms anytime soon.
4. Domination in the Big House
Jeremiah Johnson in the Big House
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The steel-plate uniform era always seemed to garner mixed reaction. On one hand, the design on the shoulders seemed to emanate toughness and, dare I say, a certain swagger. On the other hand, calling them silly would be perfectly reasonable.
There would be no mixed reaction about the Ducks' decision to go with the green-white-white combination for the visit to the Big House to face a Michigan team coming off a humbling loss to Appalachian State.
Dennis Dixon and Co. led the team to a dominating 39-7 victory that proved to be the dual-threat QB's true coming out party after a couple seasons of mediocre play.
Jeremiah Johnson came out after halftime with an Oregon sledgehammer and smashed it into the end zone as if to signal that the game was already over. The green helmets (best ever, in my humble opinion) worked well with the all white look.
Everything about this combination screamed "smooth," and the team played like it with Dixon flinging deep balls with ease and Jonathan Stewart delivering punishing blows between the tackles.
That day will be remembered for the game much more than the uniforms, but that particular color combination has always stood out as one of the best. What better time to sport it than during one of the Ducks' greatest victories ever.
3. Storm Trooper
Josh Huff scores a TD against USC
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To be clear, Dennis Dixon's 2007 team was the first to trot out the "Storm Trooper" uniforms. It wore them in a 55-34 victory over the Huskies that year.
But since then, the all-white look has become the iconic road uniform of the Oregon Ducks. They stormed Los Angeles this past season in the same garb and put on the greatest offensive show the Coliseum had ever seen.
You get the feeling that players love wearing these uniforms because it gets them even more hyped up to play the game they so love. Josh Huff had a great game as did Marcus Mariota and, of course, Kenjon Barner, who rushed for over 300 yards and five touchdowns.
I debated this selection against the very first time Oregon wore all black, but since so many other teams have since done that, I think the all-white uniforms remain in a class of their own.
They may not be completely unique to the Ducks, but when you see the team walk out in all-white, clean-looking uniforms, you know the show is about to start.
And when a particular uniform combination brings up memories of Dennis Dixon flying through the Husky secondary or Kenjon Barner scoring his fifth touchdown, you know it's a good one.
2. Gang Green
RB Dino Philyaw
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What's a list without the uniforms worn by Oregon's Gang Green teams of the '90s?
Running back Dino Philyaw was one of the leaders of the '94 offense, which helped the Ducks reach their first Rose Bowl in over three decades.
Of course, the team was led by the defense and guys like LB Rich Ruhl and Chad Cota.
The team was defined by its toughness and desire to change so many previous years of terrible football.
The green and yellow became a look that distinguished Duck fans from everybody else, too. So many teams wear red, yellow, blue or orange, but hardly anybody had that particular color combination.
Oregon has since gone away from wearing just green and yellow, but the classic look is simply one of the best.
1. Joey Heisman
The man, the myth, the legend, Joey Harrington
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I can't quite put a finger on what it is about the Joey Harrington-era uniforms that I love so much.
Maybe it's because that was when I truly started following the team, or maybe it's because "Captain Comeback" led the Ducks to so many thrilling victories.
Or maybe it's just the fact that from 1998-2001, the Ducks ascended into the realm of college football's elite and, despite a couple so-so years during the past decade, haven't looked back since.
You have the helmets, which simply cannot be beat. You have the yellow stripes down the side of the uniforms, which can be goofy, but I think work well here. And then you have the yellow numbers on both the shoulders and the jersey.
The road combination is pretty spectacular as well. I didn't want to include two uniforms from the exact same season, but they wore them during the Fiesta Bowl victory over Colorado. Seeing Joey holding up the "O" after that win is still one of the greatest football moments I can ever remember.
I understand that these aren't everybody's favorites and that fans will always have their own ties to particular uniform combinations. And that's awesome.
But seeing these uniforms takes me back to the days of Bellotti, Joey, Maurice Morris, Samie Parker, comeback victories and a rise to greatness. They also signaled Oregon's emergence as a national brand.
Perhaps more than anything else that causes me to love this combination, however, is seeing that big, yellow No. 3 hovering above the huddle, ready to lead his offense down the field.