College football is a beautiful game. You've got the picturesque campuses, spirited cheerleaders and colorful crowds. But at the center of it all are the uniforms our favorite teams wear on the field every fall.
It's beginning to look like we are moving past the age of where the alternate uniform is no long the exception, but the norm. That makes comparing and ranking uniforms a little more interesting.
Consider this the red carpet show before the main event that is the 2017 college football season.
Next up: theBig Ten.
Let's see where your favorite team’s unis land in our rankings.
— Rankings by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is also covers the Big Ten for Black Heart Gold Pants, Iowa's SB Nation blog. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott
The Hoosiers have a couple of things going against them. For starters, they are in a conference loaded with quality uniforms. Additionally, their most basic look is really just an Oklahoma knockoff. They've tried to get fancy and switch it up over the years, but in the end, every uniform IU marches out reminds us all that this is a basketball school. The powers that be need to pick one primary design – preferably with a white helmet – and make sure it doesn't look too much like some of the more iconic programs in the Midwest.
I'm not a big fan whatsoever of the new look that Adidas has given the Scarlet Knights. It's a bit too plain for a program that can't afford to be anything close to plain. My biggest pet peeve is the "RUTGERS" across the chest in place of the block "R" (right) that Nike went with. I suppose it's a nice way to help the teams running over them know who they are playing when they look down.
I'm probably going to get a lot of grief over this on social media, but I'm over Iowa's uniforms. The whole Steeler rip-off thing was fun while it lasted, but it's now just tired and outdated. A team with one of the finest logos in sports deserves an upgrade. I recommend the all-blacks they wore a couple of years ago against Minnesota. Switch to those and there's a good chance Iowa tops this list.
I'm not changing my opinion on Minnesota's uniforms. They are a little too bland and too close to Central Michigan. It's not bad when the Gophers go with the yellow helmet, but even then, I feel like they can do better. If they switched to a more metallic gold in place of the yellowish deal the currently have going on, these unis would be straight fire!
The Maryland unis are growing on me. I just needed some time, but the more I look at them, the more I love the flag design on the helmet as long as they keep the jersey fairly simple. The away uniform with black pants is one of the better looking road kits in the conference.
Normally I like a plain, basic look, but like Iowa, I feel Nebraska's uniforms have a dated appearance to match the hardware in their trophy case. The stripes on the sleeves and pants give the uniform too much of a 1970s feel. They've changed the uniforms in the past, and there's nothing besides a stubborn fan base in the way of changing them again. If they could somehow work Herbie into the helmet design and cut back on the stripes, Nebraska would score some points in my book if it was done right.
8. Michigan State
There's nothing wrong with Michigan State's uniforms, it's just that they are limited by the color and in part by the iconic mascot. I think they could toss in more silver in a lot of places without it looking tacky. They are going to march out an all-white look against Western Michigan early on this season. I like the idea of a white helmet and think it would definitely improve Sparty's standing on this list if it were adopted full time.
I finally have a reason to separate Wisconsin from Nebraska after the two teams essentially had the same uniform for years. Under Armour tweaked the numbers to make them look more like those that appear on the Badger basketball uniforms and raised the stripes on the shoulders. It's a much more distinctive, cleaner look than the old Adidas uniforms they had and that Nebraska still wears.
6. Ohio State
I've given the Buckeyes love in the past for the classic look of their threads, but truth be told, I'm starting to crave something more from them. I still love the uniforms they wore in the College Football Playoff during their championship run a couple of years ago with black numbers on the shoulder. I'm also a fan of the wider stripe they wore on one of their alternate unis a while back. For now, their clean, traditional look is enough to keep them in the top half of the conference.
Northwestern's uniforms are the perfect blend of classic and modern. The Wildcats are one of the more creative teams in terms of designs and combinations, but the best thing the program has going for it is the purple. As Kansas State and TCU shown us in the Big 12, it's easy to make purple look good on a football uniform.
Purdue's clean, black jerseys with the thick gold numbers are pretty amazing. Like with purple, it's tough to mess up black and gold. I'm a big fan of the gold helmet, but for my money, it doesn't get better than when the Boilermakers go all-black – helmet included.
The Fighting Illini had one of the better rebrandings in recent memory a couple of years ago. The switch to a brighter orange and a clean design centered around a bold, block "I" was brilliant. The design looks fantastic with all three helmets (orange, white and navy.) Now if the team wearing the uniform would play as sharp as it looks, we might have something.
The solid maize pants against the navy blue jersey is a timeless combination that will never go out of style. But let's be honest here: it's all about that helmet when it comes to Michigan's uniforms. The Wolverines may not have coined the design, but they've made it famous, and there is not a better looking helmet in all of football – college or pro, American or Canadian.
1. Penn State
The most iconic uniform in college football. White pants, no stripes. Navy blue jerseys, plain white numbers. And speaking of helmets, let's talk about the cleanest, whitest, brightest helmet in college football. There aren't many scenes in sports quite as cool as watching those helmets bounce up and down in the tunnel before taking the field at Beaver Stadium.
I liken the Penn State uniform to a luxury sedan: clean, sleek and without a need for any after-market tweaking. It's a functional uniform beautifully designed to play football in and look good doing it.