The Complete 2021 College Football Uniform Guide
by Aaron Lynn
College football is here, which means there are plenty of college football uniform changes that happened over the course of the offseason. The 5th and Goal Thread Tracker has all of those updates for you below!
The Pirates updated their uniform set in 2018 and will do the same in 2021. The Pirates will
have a more simplified look this season with one notable difference being the wordmark on
the front of the jersey saying "East Carolina" instead of "ECU." For now, the jerseys will be
purple for home games and white for away games and can be combined with purple, white,
or yellow pants. The purple jerseys will have gold numbers instead of white. East Carolina
will alternate between purple and black helmets and don't be surprised if the black helmet
is combined with a new all-black alternate set that the Pirates have shown in previous
editions of their uniforms. There are no more somewhat randomly placed pirate emblems
on the pants and a stripe instead.
I like this look overall. The simplified number, sleeve pattern, and updated pants
give this set a clean look, and I'm a sucker for a good purple and black color scheme.
Historically, the Midshipmen have had special uniforms in their annual season finale rival game against Army. This year, Navy is debuting special threads to honor the Marine Corps in their September 11th matchup against Air Force. The design is based on the Marines' "Dress Blue A" uniforms and even features an "oo-rah" emblem above the facemask. The white helmets mimic the marine cap even to the detail of the braids, which is a really nice touch. Air Force will also have special uniforms for this contest, so you'll want to keep reading to see what the Falcons will be debuting.
Overall, this is an incredibly well-done design and does a great job of honoring the Marines. The lighter blue pants when contrasted with the navy blue jersey could look a bit strange on the field itself, but overall this set is a home run. It will be interesting to see if Navy will bring this set back in their game against Army or if they will debut a separate combination.
The Mustangs have worn a white edition of the "City of Dallas" uniforms at points over the last two seasons and will now debut a blue version of those same uniforms. It's a little disappointing the font and striping just a copy and paste from the white versions, but the script "Dallas" on the front is a nice touch and I also like the helmet, too.
Stay tuned for space-themed jerseys from the Golden Knights. This will mark the fifth-straight "Space Game" alternates that UCF has worn to honor the school's founding to help establish NASA. Pictures from past Space Games are shown below.
The conference is no longer requiring that teams display the ACC conference logo on the nose bumper, so nearly every ACC team will have their own 3-D bumper that is program-specific.
The Eagles made the transition from Under Armour (which is having financial issues; you'll notice several programs leaving Under Armour throughout this preview) to New Balance, although the football team has an exclusive deal with Adidas. Boston College has had one of the most simple (you could say bland, if you aren't a fan) uniforms and that's even more true with this set. There does not appear to be a stripe on the helmet this year, which has come and gone in various renditions of the Boston College uniform. The new set will feature the throwback logo on the both the jersey and pants.
A very small change for the Hurricanes who have updated their number font to reflect uniforms of the past. This font just screams "Miami" when I see it, so I like the change. The Hurricane logo is also centered in a shield on the front of the jersey.
North Carolina State
In one of the more unusual updates, the Wolfpack will debut the "Slobbering Wolf" alternate helmet in their season opener. The brick outline is supposed to mimic the brick featured on campus. It's a bit much, if you ask me.
No major changes in the offseason for the Big 12. Texas replaced their turf if you're into that sort of thing? Otherwise, make sure you check Thread Tracker throughout the season to see any new updates that might happen in-season!
Illinois will have a new "Block I" helmet this season that features a white facemask and a white outline around the I. In fact, the Illini have already worn this lid in their season opening win over Nebraska in Week 0.
The Terrapins will begin the season with a throwback uniform set resembling uniforms worn by the program in the 1980s. The best part of this set is the script "Terps" helmet. I really like these throwback jerseys and I truly believe these new helmets are far and away the best Maryland lids we've seen in a decade. Maryland wore these same helmets along with a similar throwback set in 2019 against Michigan, so this year's white set is essentially the road version of that set. Look, I get you like your flag a lot Maryland, but not plastering it all of your uniforms and instead going for a uniform set like this is so much better.
You might be a basketball school if you pull uniform design inspiration from your basketball team. All jokes aside, the script "State" is a good look, especially on a white helmet. The basketball program has worn this script on different jerseys for years and was most notably worn by Magic Johnson and the 1979 national championship winning Spartan basketball team.
The Golden Gophers are breaking out new black alternates when they host Ohio State to begin the season on a Thursday. The font is quite different from any of Minnesota current options which is throwing me off. You'd have a hard time knowing it was Minnesota playing on the field without a close up of the helmet or the television score bug. The helmet is probably the best part of this alternate.
The Badgers will finally be able to break out their "Forward" white alternates this
season after Covid cancelled the game (against Notre Dame) where this set
would have debuted in 2020. The font is noticeably different and the uniforms refer
to a famous archway near Camp Randall Stadium which was once used as a
training site during the Civil War. You'll also notice the word "Forward" on the
helmets. Notre Dame will also be wearing alternates for the annual "Shamrock
Series" contest which is played in Chicago this season.
The Owls have added a new red alternate that has striping matching the other uniform sets in their collection. All-red uniforms are typically a little over-the-top, and that's how I feel about these uniforms, although I do like the shoulder striping and they are an improvement from the 2019 edition.
The Monarchs might be one of the best looking teams in the conference with this powder blue set. My only suggestion would be to make the "Old Dominion" lettering on the front dark blue instead of white. Otherwise, these are fantastic.
The Eagles have a brand new uniform wardrobe to begin 2021. There's nothing
particularly special about this set, which uses many of Adidas' default fonts and
striping. I do like the white alternate helmet, which is the first white helmet in
program history, and the all-white combination is probably the best look. I'll take a
hard pass on the yellow jerseys (please stick to black at home, Southern Miss).
Overall, considering some of the other questionable uniforms Southern Miss has
had in recent history, I'd say these are a decent upgrade.
The Cougars have alternated between navy blue, royal blue, and white at different points over the last few years, but now they officially have helmets, jerseys, and pants in each color. For the white away sets, there will be white with royal blue and white with navy blue which means the Cougars have 26 different possible combinations. BYU will be able mix and match as they please (even the facemasks are swappable). BYU gets my award for the best uniform update of the offseason, and it's not particularly close.
It's time for the annual Shamrock Series game which means it's time for the annual Notre Dame alternate. This particular uniform stays more true to the traditional Notre Dame look than some we've seen in the past (and trust me, we've seen some disasters in the past). Ironically, this uniform was loosely based on the Green Bay Packers uniform, since this game was originally scheduled for Lambeau Field in 2020. That game was cancelled and the site for 2021 is Soldier Field in Chicago. Notre Dame will add the city flag of Chicago to the back of the helmet, and maybe that will help potential Bears fans look past the Green Bay (a hated Bears rival) design.
Akron has moved from Adidas to Nike this season and will have new uniforms as a result. Unfortunately, the Zips have not given us an official preview of the new set yet. All we have are three somewhat blurry pictures from MAC media day but we can see that Akron is going for a clean, simple look. Make sure to check back at Thread Tracker to see an update once the Zips hit the field!
Miami has simplified their look and removed a rather gaudy shoulder stripe. It seems as if the trend in new college football uniforms (for the most part) is a cleaner, simpler look, and I actually think the RedHawks hit that trend to a tee. I don't love the Adidas template usually, but Miami has a good set.
The school has made some interesting choices when it comes to logos and graphic design. The Bronco is no longer the primary logo. The "Block-W" now takes its place and the university has refined the school colors to... yellow and brown... probably the worst two colors to combine on a uniform (no offense, Wyoming). It's not as if the Broncos' previous uniforms were particularly pleasant either, but the program isn't giving itself much room to work. With the new logo comes new uniforms, which, like Akron, we really haven't seen outside of a short glimpse at media day. We'll obviously keep you updated on what Western Michigan rolls out onto the field this year, and we present you with the logo in the meantime.
The Falcons have a Boeing B-52-inspired set that the team will wear against Navy on the 20th anniversary of September 11th. These uniforms are incredible. From the Strategic Air Command patch to the camo to the helmets that are modeled after the plane's design, this alternate is a huge win from a visual standpoint alone. And, when you add all of the meaning behind the design, A+ to Air Force here.
The Rams traditionally wear green and orange on Agriculture Day and will do so again this year. They'll have a new look, and I kinda like it. The throwback look is nice and the white helmet helps break up what is a somewhat jarring color combination of green and orange.
Like other programs, Hawaii has moved on from Under Armour and is now an Adidas school. They'll have a brand new uniform set that already made its season debut in Week 0. On one side of the helmets are the outline of the Hawaiian islands, and the logo is on the other side. The islands design looks amazing on the helmet and, in a touching note, the program has added the number 15 to their helmets for this season to honor the live of former QB and all-time great Colt Brennan who passed away this summer.
Two new helmet options for the Wolf Pack this year. The white option is really sharp but the silver looks good too and is based on Notre Dame's famous gold helmets. Nevada even went so far as to patent that particular silver hat, so they are going all in on this design.
San Diego State
The Aztecs are bringing back what might be the best helmet in college football in a matte style, which means that Aztec "Sun Stone" design should be even more clear and visible. Everybody wins with this helmet.
Arizona wore these "Desert Swarm" uniforms in 2019 and realized that the fans liked this uniform far better than what they had been wearing (I don't blame them). So, to begin 2021, the Wildcats will return to a much more classic and refined look reminiscent of the Nick Foles era. I'm a big fan of the numbering on both the home and road jerseys. The white number on the navy blue looks especially good.
Ah yes, probably the entry you've been waiting for. Another year, another uniform set for Oregon. So far, we've seen apple green, yellow, and white as the color options which includes a green and yellow helmet. I'd expect more updates this season too, as it's very unlikely the Ducks are finished rolling out new threads just yet. It's not my favorite Oregon look ever, but it's still a sharp look, and the green helmets with the wings fading from green to yellow look absolutely amazing.
The Bruins are the most recent football team to sign with the Jordan Brand. The uniform set is very similar to what they have had in the past with Adidas and Under Armour. The helmet is a slightly different shade of gold. UCLA has one of the most classic and storied uniforms and it's nice to see Jordan do it justice. UCLA opened the season in Week 0 where they debuted that Jordan brand.
If you didn't know any better, you'd think the uniform I'm about to show
you belongs to Navy or Air Force. However, Utah will be honoring the
USS Salt Lake City, a heavily used ship that fought during World War II.
Each helmet will be custom painted to illustrate a battle that the
USS Salt Lake City participated in. I'm all for this set, which does a
nice job of recognizing the accomplishments of those who fought on
the ship. The new unis will debut on November 20th in a matchup
Missouri has updated their look, bringing a uniform set that features uniform striping pattern on both the sleeves and helmet which goes a long way. It appears that the Tigers will be using their mascot logo on the helmet rather than the "Block M" that had been featured prominently in recent seasons. Overall, there aren't a ton of huge changes, but I like what Missouri did here.
The Volunteers might have accidently leaked a black uniform option on their online store. Stay tuned.
The Commodores are yet another team who is returning to a more traditional look. For a team whose football on the field generally doesn't look very good, Vandy will at least have one of the nicest uniform upgrades we've seen this offseason. The striping on the helmet, jersey, and pants is nice and the helmet as a whole is a major upgrade from some of the options we've seen in the past few seasons. The Commodores really tried to double down on the anchor theme in previous editions but it never came together. This uniform set does.
The striping on the sleeves is ever-so-different on both the home black and road white jerseys this year. It's such a minor change, in fact, that I couldn't even find a picture of the new look. (Of course, you know by know where to look once Coastal takes the field in the new set)
And... that's it! That completes the full offseason of uniform changes. Which upgrades do you like the best? Which were a step in the right direction? Did we miss an update? Let us know! Tweet at us @5thGoalSports (and if you really wanna get personnel you can find me at @aarondlynn).