New year. New threads.
Remember the first day of school, when everyone and their brother broke out their shiniest, newest clothes, dressing to impress? That’s basically what this weekend is in college football fashion.
The 2014 college football season kicked into gear Thursday night with 14 games, including Texas A&M’s surprising evisceration of South Carolina, breaking the Gamecocks’ 18-game home winning streak.
Saturday will bring the first full day of college gridiron action, and with it, a number of new and different looks for college football uniforms across the nation.
This is the first opportunity for teams to display their new duds before huge crowds, and they’re ready for the opportunity.
Here’s a look at the best and brightest (and strangest) among new college football uniforms for Week 1.
Vanderbilt broke out new black jerseys for coach Derek Mason's debut against Temple, but the Commodores probably should've checked with the NCAA rulebook first. In Thursday night's game, VU had "Anchor Down" above the numbers where a player's last name normally goes. But putting a slogan there is illegal under NCAA rules, and the 'Dores were charged a team timeout each quarter that they wore the illegal uniform.
But at the beginning of the second quarter, per CBS Sports' Jerry Hinnen, VU obtained a letter from SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw that reversed the decision and restored the timeout that had been stripped. It was a bizarre way to start the year in uniform watching.
Louisville will enter the ACC with an ESPN-televised showdown against Miami on Monday night, and the Cardinals will do so in style. Louisville has a new league, a new-old coach in Bobby Petrino and a new uniform look.
Louisville is holding a “Blackout” at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and the Cardinals themselves are setting the tone with all-black uniforms that feature red numerals and a red shoulder stripe. The Cards will also have shiny black helmets with red logos on the side, and they’ll look plenty sharp for their ACC debut.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have not released their uniform combo for Monday, but they have a number of options, including new green and orange helmets.
Speaking of black, ACC rival N.C. State has unveiled a “Pack in Black” uniform combination that features a black helmet with a red lower half and, most notably, wolf eyes on the back of the shell. It’s pretty sharp, really.
Illinois has completely new uniforms that feature the same primary uniform colors (blue, orange and white jerseys) but have a sleeker, more modern look with new numerals and new orange, white and black helmets. The Fighting Illini will wear the white helmets this weekend with orange jerseys and white pants for the season opener against Youngstown State.
When Navy takes the field against Ohio State Saturday, the Midshipmen will be sporting sharp "Summer Whites" uniforms which are inspired by the Navy's Summer White uniform. They have a unique helmet which takes inspiration from the covers Midshipmen wear and include a gold belt buckle, all-white cleats and all-white gloves. The uniforms will vary slightly from player to player, with each athlete's specific rank noted on the shoulder and pant leg.
Iowa State is hoping for a new look offensively under new coordinator Mark Mangino, and the Cyclones’ lids will look sharp with new red matte helmets.
In the American Athletic Conference, South Florida will sport new green and gold helmets. The green helmets feature a matte finish and a larger version of the USF logo, while the gold helmets are a chrome motif and a smaller version of the logo.
In Conference USA, Southern Miss hopes for better fortunes after breaking a 23-game losing streak in the 2013 season finale. The Golden Eagles made a slight change to their helmets, changing the “Southern Miss” lettering on the sides from black to white, providing a nice contrast against the yellow background.
Miami isn’t the only South Florida team making uniform changes: Florida International is bringing back gold pants to wear with its blue uniform tops.
Meanwhile, UAB has perhaps the best new helmets in college football with a giant, fire-breathing dragon covering the side of the helmet. The Blazers haven’t had much success on the field lately, but they’re winning with these new lids.
Akron and coach Terry Bowden have sharp new uniforms and helmets this fall. The Zips have new black uniforms and also have white chrome and gold chrome helmets with a huge "Z" emblazoned on the side.
In-state MAC rival Toledo has updated its look, with a smaller “Toledo” across the chest of its black uniforms and yellow stripes covering the uniforms’ shoulders.
Northern Illinois played Thursday night against Presbyterian, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Huskies’ corn-themed uniforms. DeKalb, Illinois, is set smack in the middle of northern Illinois’ rolling corn fields, and NIU paid tribute to the local landscape with black “Cornfest” uniforms that were corn-kernel themed across the shoulders. They were…something.
Mississippi State is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Scott Field this fall, and the Bulldogs will do so in updated uniforms, per Gamedayr. This week, they’ll wear maroon helmets and jerseys with “Hail State” emblazoned across the front and white pants with the M-State logo wrapped around the left thigh.
Wyoming has a new head coach in Craig Bohl, but the Cowboys are going back to the future with their helmets. Wyoming is bringing back the classic white helmet with a gold stripe and the bucking cowboy logo. Pretty nice.
UCLA made a small but welcome change: This week, the Bruins will bring back the classic Clarendon lettering on their jerseys. With the Bruins poised for historical success this fall, it makes sense that they’d embrace history on their uniforms.