Ever since 1999 when the powers that be in college football decided to come up with a controversial computer-based system to determine the best possible matchup for the National Championship, the college football season has always ended with one game that is designated as the “official” National Championship Game. It’s amazing to me that it took until the late ’90s for college football to figure this out, and it’s even more amazing that it took until 2014 for the powers that be to realize that a playoff system was actually a solid idea.
However, we’re not here to discuss the merits of these games or the playoff system itself. Instead, we’re here to talk about the best uniform matchups when it came to these particular games. I’ve tried to come up with a Top 10 list here, and while there are a few teams who make multiple appearances on the list, it’s a good thing because most of the good teams in college football actually have good uniforms, so that’s a relief. So, let’s not waste anymore time and hop right into the list, then.
#10 — Florida State vs. Oklahoma: 2001 Orange Bowl
This will be the first of multiple appearances on this list for both of these teams. Oklahoma’s uniforms are timeless classics, and they’ll probably never stray from them. Meanwhile, Florida State had classic uniforms that they finally updated over a decade later, and it’s a bit of a shame that they had to leave them behind — even if the new uniforms aren’t really all that bad at all. So, the 2001 Orange Bowl was a matchup between a vintage classic in Oklahoma and a modern classic in FSU, and it didn’t disappoint.
#9 — Florida vs. Oklahoma: 2009 National Championship Game
Florida’s uniforms are extremely easy on the eyes, and even though I prefer their orange helmets-white jerseys-orange pants combo, the all-white look isn’t bad at all. It paired well with Oklahoma’s classic uniforms, which means that it was pretty easy to put this matchup in the top 10.
#8 — Oregon vs. Auburn: 2011 National Championship Game
Thanks to Miami’s period of dominance in the early 2000s, we had a couple of matchups that served as modern design vs. retro classics, but the uniform matchups were poor because, well, Miami’s uniforms back then were pretty poor if we’re going to be totally honest. Meanwhile, in 2011 we finally got a modern vs. classic uniform matchup in a title game that actually looked good. Auburn is another one of those schools that falls into the “Change our uniforms and the fans will burn the stadium down” category, and Oregon has firmly entrenched themselves as the tastemakers of crazy college football fashion. As a result, we got an intriguing clash of styles that was surprisingly easy on the eyes. Oregon made a bad uniform choice three years later, but they made a nice decision in this game, and it helped contribute to a solid uniform matchup.
#7 — LSU vs. Oklahoma: 2004 Sugar Bowl
Full disclosure: This is actually a very similar uniform matchup to what we saw in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game between LSU and Alabama. With that being said, I decided to leave the LSU-Alabama game off of the list and replace it with the LSU-Oklahoma game because we see the LSU-Alabama uniform matchup every season, and that took away some of the novelty. Meanwhile, you definitely don’t see LSU and Oklahoma lock horns every day, so seeing these two colelge football bluebloods with classic uniforms was a pleasant surprise, and it made for pleasant viewing.
#6 — Oklahoma vs. USC: 2005 Orange Bowl
This may have been an extremely poor game, but the uniform matchup was lovely. This is Oklahoma’s third appearance on this list, and it’s their first appearance in the road uniforms. Meanwhile, this will be USC’s first appearance on their list, and fortunately, both appearances included their lovely red home uniforms, which you’ll see more of below.
#5 — Texas vs. USC: 2006 Rose Bowl
This is easily the best overall football game on the list, and the uniforms were exciting to look at as well. USC’s uniforms are modern classics, while Texas’ uniforms have stood the test of time with little updates. The mesh material on Texas’ uniforms kept this matchup from being higher, but it’s still a very good uniform matchup.
#4 — Florida State vs. Tennessee: 1999 Fiesta Bowl
The first-ever BCS National Championship Game was a pretty good uniform look. We’ve already talked about Florida State’s uniforms (which served the Seminoles very nicely over the two decades they wore them in), but we also got the treat of seeing Tennessee wear their classic home uniforms. If Tennessee was forced to wear their road uniforms back then, this wouldn’t have ranked as highly on the list. However, Tennessee’s home uniforms plus FSU’s solid road uniforms meant that the first BCS title game was a good one when it came to the uniforms.
#3 — Auburn vs. Florida State: 2014 National Championship Game
This was the last time that we’d see Florida State in their previous uniform set before Nike gave their uniforms a modern update, and these uniforms went out on a positive note — both when it came to winning the game and when it came to the uniform matchup. Those uniforms were always good, and Auburn’s classic road uniforms were a great companion here.
#2 — Texas vs. Alabama: 2010 National Championship Game
I was actually considering switching this game out with the 2006 Rose Bowl, but I put Texas’ appearance in the 2010 title game ahead of their appearance in the legendary 2006 Rose Bowl for one reason: The jersey material. At this point, Texas had switched to an updated Nike template, and it’s a stark upgrade over the mesh that they were wearing in 2006. That alone made the 2010 uniforms look better than the 2006 uniforms, and when you combine it with Alabama’s classic home uniforms, then you’ve got a uniform matchup that was very easy on the eyes.
#1 — Alabama vs. Notre Dame: 2013 National Championship Game
Good grief, what a beautiful uniform matchup. Two of the most storied college football programs in America finally linked up for a game in 2013, and the uniform matchup was outstanding. Both teams have an extremely simple look, but they managed to look good without looking boring. Both of these uniforms are classics that will never go out of style, and when you put the two looks together, you got an absolutely beautiful matchup and one that will stand the test of time when we look back on it in the future.
So, what do you think of the list? Did I leave off a game that you feel should be on the list? IS there a game that shouldn’t be on this list? Do you think that this year’s matchup between Clemson and Alabama will make the list? Let us know what you think!