Best College Football Helmets Tournament: Round of 64

College Football Helmets
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Part of the pageantry of college football is the uniform. And, as a youngster, I was always enamored by the design of the helmet. Many people love the traditional helmets that have not changed over time. However, there is also a huge likeness for different styles, designs, and color combinations. Now, we put that to the test as we look at the best college football helmets tournament. The 64 teams or helmet tournament is broken up in the traditional 16-team and four region play. Today, we break down our first-round games with the results.

Best College Football Helmets Tournament: Round of 64

Ann Arbor Region

(1) Michigan vs (16) Coastal Carolina

For our first matchup, we have the tradition of the Wolverine helmet. Even though the facemask color has changed slightly, the wolverine design has been a constant since 1969. Even though Coastal Carolina does not have the tradition of the Wolverine, the Chanticleer logo on the full black helmet has been consistent since its first year of play in 2003.

Winner: Michigan

(8) UTEP  vs (9) Virginia Tech

The University of Texas-El Paso has had a myriad of helmet design changes over the years. Whether it is the pickaxe on either side, the Miner decal, or the UTEP lettering the helmet has always stayed true to their heritage. Virginia Tech can say that they have both a traditional and wide variety of helmets. They have over 50 variances since 1987, but most are centered around the classic VT emblem.

Winner: Virginia Tech

(4) South Carolina vs (13) Purdue

Here, we have our first upset of the tournament. South Carolina has traditionally worn a helmet with the big C with the Gamecock in the middle since 1975. But, recently they’ve adapted the cursive Carolina as a new style. Even though colors have changed, the consistency of the big P style for Purdue won over in this matchup which has been the case in West Lafayette since 1971.

Winner: Purdue

(5) Air Force vs (12) Hawaii

You don’t get much more traditional than the service academies and that rings true here for Air Force. Even though there has been some variations, when you think about the Air Force it’s hard to not envision the lightning bolts. Even with a bit of mistaken identity in going from a Rainbow to a Warrior, there’s something cool about the Hawaii helmets. Perhaps if they would have stayed with the Rainbow design that would have taken them over the top here.

Winner: Air Force

(2) Oregon vs (15) South Florida

The Ducks are about as diverse as they come in terms of the helmets. So much so that they typically have enough different combinations that they don’t wear the same one more than once each year. South Florida has only played football since 1997. However, their helmets are unmistakable with the Bull logo on each side of the helmet.

Winner: Oregon

(7) Georgia vs (10) Pittsburgh

We have two blue blood programs taking on each other in the first round. Part of what makes them blue blood is that their helmet design is traditional. Whether it’s the big G in the middle of the Georgia helmet or the Pitt abbreviation on the Panther helmet these have been mainstays of these two schools since the 1970s. This was one of the closest matchups in our college football helmets tournament.

Winner: Georgia

(3) Clemson vs (14) Colorado

The Tiger paw print logo on the helmet has been a mainstay in Death Valley since 1976. When you think of Clemson, there is no mistaking their logo or mascot. Conversely, since 1981 the Buffalo with the interlocking CU has been such a huge part of the Colorado tradition. The tradition gives us our biggest upset of the first round.

Winner: Colorado

(6) Florida vs (11) Stanford

Even though Florida has displayed an alternate helmet with the capital F, when you think of Florida you think of the Gators writing on the helmet. That has been the case since 1979. Meanwhile, on the farm, the big S has been part of the Stanford helmet since 1976. Sometimes, we have seen variations of the stand-alone S or the S with the tree in the middle.

Winner: Florida

Austin Region

(1) Texas vs (16) Washington State

Even though there have been slight variations, the infamous Longhorn emblem is what Texas is all about. Fight songs, mascots, and even hand gestures were taken from what is one of the most recognizable logos in college football. Over the years, Washington State has gone back and forth between the writing of the word Cougars or the picture of a Cougar. Even so, it’s no match for the top seed.

Winner: Texas

(8) Western Michigan vs (9) Iowa

The Big Ten conference is known for its tradition and that rings true here for Iowa. The picture of the Hawkeye has been on the Iowa helmets since 1979. Comparatively, what Western Michigan lacks in a tradition they make up for in creativeness.They have user 43 different helmet combinations since 2011.

Winner: Iowa

(4) UCLA vs (13) Vanderbilt

The blue blood strikes again. Even though the size and colors have changes on occasion, you can’t mistake the UCLA with the underlining of the team acronym as a statement. For Vanderbilt, the big V in the middle of the star has become a mainstay over the last nine years. Unfortunately, for the Vols, they haven’t made it up to UCLA’s standards yet.

Winner: UCLA

(5) SMU vs (12) Missouri

Even though neither of these teams is traditional powers, their helmets have very much been that. The red, white, and blue emblem of the pony have been a traditional look for Southern Methodist. Meanwhile, the colors do change quite often, but the M in Missouri is recognizable over the years.

Winner: SMU

(2) Alabama vs (15) Toledo

Simple, but undeniably Alabama. The red helmet with the players’ number represented on the helmet has been part of the Crimson Tide uniform since 1960. Toledo, on the other hand, has had different combinations over the years. Some helmets have had Toledo or Rockets or the interlocking UT. However, over the last 10 years, they have seemed to settle on the Rocket design.

Winner: Alabama

(7) Louisiana  vs (10) Tennessee

Louisiana Lafayette has settled on the Rajun Cajuns look over the last 20 years. A mid-major that does not have a storied tradition here against a blue blood. Tennessee must feel a little disrespected with the 10 seed. Much like the trademark big T that dominates anything you see from Tennessee, the Volunteers dominated this matchup as well.

Winner: Tennessee

(3) North Carolina vs (14) Army

Here, we have our second 14 over 3 upset in as many regions. North Carolina is certainly known as a basketball school. However, the interlocking NC is a figure known in the ACC and college football world. Over the years, Army has been quite simplistic from a helmet and uniform perspective. However, sometimes simple is better and that scores the upset here.

Winner: Army

(6) Oregon State vs (11) Charlotte

This is about as even as a matchup as we’ve seen. Both Oregon State and Charlotte don’t exude traditional helmets and many people outside of Oregon and North Carolina wouldn’t recognize their helmets. However, the Beaver edges out the victory here.

Winner: Oregon State

Coral Gables Region

(1) Miami, Fl vs (16) Kansas State

As we head to the Coral Gables region, here is a matchup that was closer than most of the experts would have thought. Kansas State does not have a ton of football tradition. However, when you think of Kansas State the Wildcat is a big part of their tradition. Often imitated but never duplicated is the unmistakable U of the Miami Hurricanes. Even though we’ve seen different combinations, the U is always the centerpiece of the helmet.

Winner: Miami, Fl

(8) Virginia vs (9) Arkansas

In this matchup, we have a rare case where fresh new designs win over a traditional power. First, you have Arkansas where the Hog has been in the figure on their helmets since the 1960s. Then, we have the Virginia helmets which are ever-changing. What was once a staple of the helmet in the V with the Cavalier swords has been traded in for an Alabama style helmet with jersey numbers on it.

Winner: Virginia

(4) Arizona State vs (13) California

Our first conference matchup happens here in this four versus 13 matchup in the PAC 12. Arizona State has evolved their helmets from a Sun Devil logo to a pitchfork and now to currently more of a numbering helmet scheme. Comparatively, with California, you have the traditional Cal script which has been part of their helmets since the late 1960s. Arizona State wins this one in dominating fashion.

Winner: Arizona State

(5) Tulane vs (12) Kansas

Here with Tulane, we have one of the few mascots that are not an animal. The Green Wave has historically gone with the T for Tulane for its helmet design for over 30 years. But, over the last 10, they have moved to more of a mean wave type of design. Whereas, with Kansas, the KU and the Jayhawk have been part of the design for many years.

Winner: Tulane

(2) Ohio State vs (15) Boston College

If you like plain, traditional helmets this is the matchup for you. They have both had very slight variations over the years. But, both of the helmets have been traditional since the 1970s. For Ohio State, you have the gray helmets with no emblem and for Boston College, there are the gold helmets with no emblem. Perhaps it’s the Buckeyes that give the edge to Ohio State in this matchup.

Winner: Ohio State

(7) Boise State vs (10) Oklahoma

Here we have a rematch of one of the best bowl games in recent memory. But, the good news for Sooner fans is they get some much-needed revenge over Boise State here. The traditional interlocking O and U have been part of the Sooners helmets since the 1960s. Conversely, after predominately using the Bronco and the Boise State lettering on its helmet they have moved to the numbering scheme as of late.

Winner: Oklahoma

(3) Florida State vs (14) Florida Atlantic

A sunshine state battle here between Florida State and Florida Atlantic. The Seminoles are aiming to be the first three seed to advance to the second round. Luckily, for Florida State fans they do so in a breeze. The sphere is such a big part of what makes Florida State such an iconic program.

Winner: Florida State

(6) Wyoming vs (11) Navy

Navy is looking to be the third service academy to make it to the round of 32. Much like Army and Air Force, the Naval Academy has a traditional look. Here the Midshipmen have the unmistakable gold helmet with the blue facemask. Comparatively, for a school that doesn’t have a ton of football tradition the helmet does. The cowboy riding the horse on the Wyoming helmet has been part of their helmet tradition since the 1960s. However, the tradition of Navy wins here.

Winner: Navy

Baton Rouge Region

(1) LSU vs (16) TCU

Our final region provides a one versus 16 matchup of the Big 12 against the SEC. Since 1977 the LSU print above the Tiger has been the focal point of the LSU helmet. This is a timeless tradition in the SEC. Although less traditional, the design of the TCU helmet doesn’t differ all that much from the Tigers. Since 2001, the TCU print along the top of the helmet with the Horned Frog has been a consistent theme.

Winner: LSU

(8) Tulsa vs (9) Louisville

Maybe it’s just a mental victory for the Golden Hurricane to make it into the field of 64. They do have the smallest enrollment of any FBS school. But, from a helmet design, the cursive Tulsa script has been part of the helmet since 1977. Much in the same way, the Cardinal has been the theme of the Louisville helmet since the early 80s. The power of the Louisville program wins here.

Winner: Louisville

(4) Michigan State vs (13) Auburn

There’s always a 13 over four upset in any tournament and it happened once again here. Although, one could argue that the seeding could have been flip-flopped. Be that as it may, we have two traditional helmet designs here. The Spartan across the green Michigan State helmet has been in place since 1965. Whereas, the interlocking A and U has been part of the Tigers helmet since 1966.

Winner: Auburn

(5) Ole Miss vs (12) Syracuse

Whether it is dark blue or baby blue, the script Ole Miss has been a huge part of Mississippi football since the mid-1980s. Even the rebel design was slick in the 60s and 70s. Syracuse has been a school that has changed identities. From 1977 to 2004 they were known for the straight orange helmets. Then, from 2007 to current the Orange have moved to the big S logo. That change is the difference in this matchup.

Winner: Ole Miss

(2) Notre Dame vs (15) West Virginia

Perhaps no school is richer in tradition than Notre Dame. And their helmet is no exception. The term Golden Domer has multiple meanings. And, the gold-painted helmets have been a key part of Notre Dame since the 60s. The West Virginia design has been the same since the 1980s and the design is very unique and identifiable to the Mountaineer program.

Winner: Notre Dame

(7) East Carolina vs (10) Colorado State

This matchup might look more like a sacrificial lamb to Notre Dame in the next round. However, both of these helmets have merit. The Colorado State Ram design is one that has been seen in the high school, college, and professional ranks many times. Meanwhile, the Pirate logo on the East Carolina helmet can be seen as intimidating as it gets.

Winner: Colorado State

(3) USC vs (14) BYU

Here we have another matchup of very traditional helmet designs. For Brigham Young, the white Y inside of the blue egg shape has been part of their tradition since 1969. And, for Southern California the Trojan is such a big part of what they are about as a program. That Trojan has been proudly placed on their helmet every season since 1972.

Winner: USC

(6) Penn State vs (11) UAB

For our last matchup of the first round, we have two programs that couldn’t be more different. Much like Notre Dame, Penn State is a blue blood and one of the most tradition rich programs in the country. The white helmet with the single blue stripe has been consistently worn since 1963. Meanwhile, Alabama Birmingham’s first season was in 1991 and they even dropped football in 2015 and 2016. But, since that time the fire breathing dragon has been on their helmets.

Winner: Penn State